November 07, 2021 7 min read

Preacher curls are a classic type of resistance training exercise you can do to train your bicep muscles. It is important to follow the correct formwhen you decide to do preacher curls or any of the alternative exercises we discuss here.

Preacher curls offer many benefits but you may want to try a few other options. If you are looking for some alternatives to preacher curls with similar benefits, we’ll give you a list of seven of them. But first, a few words about those benefits.

Benefits of Preacher Curls

When doing preacher curl exercises, you generally sit with your arms extended on a preacher bench with some type of weight in each of your hands.

 

The idea is to slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you possibly can. After doing that, you can then carefully lower them back into the starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle.

One of the reasons many weightlifters think about looking for a preacher curl alternative is that their local gym does not have a specialized preacher bench.

However, a lot of people don’t know that they can actually do preacher curls without a machine by simply using an incline dumbbell curl instead.

A major benefit of preacher curls is that they help you avoid using the rest of your body to lift the weights. This leads to a far greater challenge for your bicep muscles.

Focusing the muscles in such a discrete way can often lead to faster and more muscle growth compared to only doing simple bicep exercises like regular curls.

Most of the alternatives below will be described with dumbbells since they are so common for bicep exercises. The dumbbell preacher curl can certainly give you an effective biceps workout.

However, you can also use other free weights like barbells, kettlebells, or even cable machines for most of the exercises. Cable curls can be some of the best ones for beginners.

Preacher Curl Alternatives

1. Concentration Curl 

For concentration curls you don’t need a preacher curl bench but you do need something to sit on at about knee height, such as a regular weight lifting bench. 


    • Sit on the bench with your upper legs at about a 90-degree angle. 
    • Hold a dumbbell in one hand, slightly tilt your upper body forward while keeping a good posture, and place the lower back of your upper arm on the inside of your leg on the same side. 
    • Slowly bend in your arms at the elbows as far as you can. 
    • Keep your upper arms in the same position for the entire exercise. 
    • Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    With concentration curls you make your biceps work harder by avoiding momentum and using the rest of your body. The position of your upper arm to your body is also similar to a preacher curl. Like many of the exercises on this list, you can also use other equipment to do concentration curls. 

    2. Wall Curl 

    Stand up straight with your back against a wall with your arms hanging at your sides. 

    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a supinated grip (with your palms facing forward) in the starting position. 
    • Slowly bend in your arms at the elbows as far as you can. 
    • Keep your upper arms in the same position for the entire exercise. 
    • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    Because you stand with your back against a wall, it is easier to keep your upper arms and the rest of your body in the same position during the curl. 

    3. Seated Curl 

    To do the seated curl, you will need a flat weight bench or something else narrow to sit on. 

    • Sit down on the weight bench so that you can let your arms hang beside you. 
    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward in the starting position. 
    • Slowly bend in your arms at the elbows as far as you can. 
    • Keep your upper arms in the same position for the entire exercise. 
    • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    Similar to a preacher curl, by doing a regular dumbbell curl sitting down you avoid using your legs to move the dumbbell. This leads to more focus on your biceps which help you grow more muscles faster. 

    4. Spider Curl 

    For spider curls, you need an incline bench that you should set up at an angle of about 45 degrees. Just make sure it is an adjustable bench so that you can customize it to be at a 45 degree angle.

    • Lie on the bench on your chest. 
    • Let your arms hang down with a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward in the starting position. 
    • Slowly bend in your arms at the elbows as far as you can. 
    • Keep your upper arms in the same position for the entire exercise. 
    • Lower the dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    In the starting position of the spider curl your upper arms are at about the same angle as a preacher curl. It is also harder to use your body to lift the weights since it rests against the incline bench.

    One downside of the spider curl compared to the preacher curl is that your upper arms are still relatively free during the curl. Keep your upper arms in the same position to target your bicep muscles.

    5. Supine Bicep Curl 

    For this exercise, you will need a flat weight bench. 

    • Lie down on your back on the weight bench. 
    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, let your stretched arms hang down slightly more than a horizontal line. 
    • Slowly bend in your arms at the elbows until your forearms are pointing straight up. 
    • Keep your upper arms in the same position for the entire exercise. 
    • Twist your hands 90 degrees throughout the movement so that at the top of the movement your palms are facing backward. 
    • Lower the dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    This can be a good alternative to the preacher curl because it is hard to use your body to lift the dumbbells. A downside is that your upper arms can still move freely.

    Supine bicep curls work your biceps like incline bicep curls but with a smaller range of motion. This position of the upper arm makes the supine bicep curl focus more on the long head, the outer part, of the bicep muscle compared to the preacher curl.

    6. Reverse Curl 

    Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. 

    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a pronated grip (with your hand palms facing backward) in the starting position. 
    • Slowly bend in your arms at the elbows as far as you can. 
    • Keep your upper arms in the same position for the entire exercise. 
    • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    The reverse curl is another way to focus on a different part of your upper arm muscles. By changing your grip compared to a preacher curl you target your brachialis muscle more. This muscle helps your arms achieve more power and look bigger. 

    7. Drag Curl 

     

    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward in the starting position. 
    • Slowly bend in your arms at the elbows as far as you can and move your elbows back. 
    • The dumbbells should basically follow the same line as your body. 
    • Lower the dumbbells back into starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    The drag curl is an alternative to preacher curls because it engages your biceps brachii in a slightly different way. By moving your elbows back, you focus more on the long head (the outer part) of the muscle.

    This is a similar process to the action performed during hammer curls, which are also considered a viable preacher curl alternative.

    Even More Choices

    If those great alternative exercises still are not enough for you, there are two others you can try too. These are the crossbody curl and the wide-grip barbell bicep curl. Both of these variations change the upward angle compared to regular bicep curls and preacher curls.

    Crossbody curls allow you to focus on the long head of the brachii bicep muscle, the outer of the two brachii muscle heads. 

    • Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. 
    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward in the starting position. 
    • Slowly bring the dumbbell of one side to the shoulder of the opposite side as far as possible by folding your arms at the elbow. 
    • Keep your upper arm as much in the same position as possible except to do the movement. 
    • Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 
    • Repeat with the dumbbell on the other side. 

    For a wide-grip barbell bicep curl, stand up straight with your arms at your sides and hold a barbell with your hands a little further than shoulder width apart with a supinated grip (with your hand palms facing forward) in the starting position. 

    • Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. 
    • Keep your upper arms in the same position for the entire exercise.
    • Lower the barbell back to the starting position in a controlled motion so that you are building muscle. 

    By shifting the position of your hands, this barbell preacher curl allows you to target the short head of the brachii bicep muscle, the inner of the two brachii muscle heads. You can also perform this exercise with an EZ bar (or EZ curl bar) if that is more convenient for you.

    More About Weight Training  

    If you are going to be doing a lot of reps to work your arms, remember that your entire upper body including your core muscles will also get a lot stronger as you are doing your toning.

    Another benefit of all of these exercises is core strength training.

    Doing arm exercises regularly can build bigger biceps and triceps, and otherab exercises like  cable crunches can help you feel younger, make your day to day tasks more manageable, and improve your overall health.

    Increasing your general  strength and mobility can help relieve any pain that you might have.

    Warm Up and Start Exercising!

    As with other exercises, do a proper warm-up to avoid any type of risk of injury. Warming up properly for arm workouts andfollowing a regular  diet plan are some vital factors that many athletes sometimes overlook when they are starting a new training routine.