The preacher curl is an isolation exercise that focuses on the muscles in your upper arms. The exercise is normally performed on a preacher’s bench, which stabilizes your upper arms and removes the momentum that you would use for a regular biceps curl. If you don’t have a preacher’s bench, you can perform the exercise using an exercise ball and a pair of dumbbells.
Kneel on the floor with a stability ball in front of you. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing up. Lean over the stability ball, fully extend your arms and rest the back of your upper arms on the ball. Adjust your position so your armpits rest near the top of the ball. Contract your biceps and bend your elbows until your arms are at a 45-degree angle. Squeeze your biceps and raise the dumbbell, then slowly lower them until your arms are back in the starting position.
The preacher curl is a biceps exercise that primarily targets the brachialis muscle, or lower biceps. The brachialis originates at the front of the humerus bone and inserts at the ulna, or elbow bone. The brachialis is responsible for elbow flexion, or bending your arm. The biceps brachii and brachioradialis are synergist muscles, so they assist in the movement and are also strengthened in the process. The wrist flexors serve as the stabilizer muscles.
If you don’t have two dumbbells, this exercise can also be done with a straight barbell, an EZ-bar or a cable machine. You can also do the exercise with alternating arms so that when one arm is going up the other is going down. Bringing your elbows closer together targets your outer biceps; moving your elbows further apart targets your inner biceps.
Sets and Reps
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing two to four sets of any resistance exercise to improve strength and power. For each set, perform eight to 12 repetitions to improve strength and power, or 15 to 20 repetitions to improve muscular endurance. Older people or those new to exercise can start with 10 to 15 repetitions. Stop exercising when you can no longer perform the exercise with proper form or if you feel sudden or sharp pain.
- Weight Lifting for Women: Step-By-Step Exercises for Weight Loss, Body Shaping, and Good Health; Leah Garcia, pg 90
- exRx.net: Dumbbell Preacher Curl
- WeightTraining.com: Swiss Ball EZ-Bar Preacher Curl
- American Council on Exercise: Dumbbell Preacher Curl
- Mayo Clinic: Weight Training: Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Technique
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
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