01/06/2022

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by: Rebecca Guterman

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Categories: Exercises

8 Best Preacher Curl Alternative Exercises For Bigger Biceps (With Videos)

If you want a set of biceps with peaks bigger than Everest, that Arnold himself would be envious of, it’s important to vary your training and perform the right exercises.

There are many different exercises out there that are perfect for building big biceps, yet the preacher curl is one that is often overlooked, and we can’t understand why that is.

Preacher curls are great for isolating the biceps, they add mass and definition, they really hit the short head of the biceps and they’re simple to do.

Preacher curls are all well and good, but if you want a set of big guns you can’t base your workouts solely around them, which is why it’s important to find some suitable alternatives.

Variety is the spice of life and varying your biceps training will pay dividends in months to come, when your arms are bursting from your sleeves.

To help you mix up your bicep training, here’s a look at the best preacher curl alternative exercises.

First off, What The Heck Are Preacher Curls?

Before we can offer you some alternative exercises to this fantastic exercise, it’s important to understand what preacher curls actually are.

A preacher curl is a bicep exercise that involves a preacher curl bench, and an EZ bar, if you’re going for the free-weight version.

There are also preacher curl machines that mimic this exercise, except that the participant will curl the weight using a bar attached to the machine, and will add weight in the form of adding plates, or from a stack.

Performing preacher curls with an EZ bar requires you to place your elbows and your chest firmly onto the pad while holding the bar as you would if you were going to curl it.

Now, you lower the EZ bar down until your elbows are nearly fully extended, but not quite, before curling the bar back up until it is just under your chin, making sure to keep your chest and your elbows securely on the pad.

What makes preacher curls especially beneficial is the fact that you can’t cheat to curl the weight because your elbows are placed securely on the pad at all times during the exercise.

Because you can’t lean back or swing to perform a rep, you are able to fully isolate the biceps and give them one heck of a workout in the process.

Even though the range of motion is limited as you are only curling the bar around 45 degrees because you can’t cheat as your joints are locked into place.

If you feel your biceps are lacking in size, or if you simply want to add mass to them or increase your bicep peak, an isolation exercise such as preacher curls will work wonders.

What Are Some Of The Main Benefits Of Preacher Curls?

Preacher Curl Alternative Exercises For Bigger Biceps

If you’re looking to incorporate preacher curls into your routine, as well as the alternatives we’re covering today, it’s vital that you understand why they’re so beneficial.

Not only do preacher curls eliminate the chance to cheat, but they’re also great for isolating the bicep and are ideal for hitting the short head of the muscle.

If that wasn’t enough, preacher curls also force the biceps to work harder on the negative (eccentric) portion of the exercise as you lower the bar down.

This is great for TUT (Time Under Tension) training and really works the biceps differently from other curls.

Here’s a look at several key benefits of preacher curls:

  • Helps to isolate the biceps
  • Eliminates the opportunity to swing the weight and cheat to gain momentum
  • Great for adding mass to the biceps
  • Great for hitting the short head of the biceps
  • Works the biceps harder during the eccentric portion of the exercise
  • Focuses on the contraction and getting a good squeeze on the muscle
  • Helps target additional muscle fibers
  • Can be done on a machine or with an EZ bar

What Are Some Of The Best Preacher Curl Alternative Exercises?

We know we’ve hyped up preacher curls, and rightly so, but they can only do so much and sometimes we need to find alternatives, which is exactly what we’ll be doing today.

Below, you’ll find our list of some of the best alternative exercises guaranteed to really pump up the biceps and give you one heck of an arm workout in the process.

So, in no particular order, here are some of the alternatives you can do the next time you’re in the gym.

1. Incline Dumbbell Curls:

How To: Seated Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curl

If you want a bicep exercise that requires nothing more than a set of dumbbells and an adjustable weight bench, this is the perfect exercise to perform.

Incline dumbbell curls are great because they support your back so you can’t lean back or rock backward and forwards to gain momentum.

By adjusting the incline of the bench as well, you can also adjust the range of motion so you can hit different heads of the muscle.

Here’s what to do:

  • Begin by taking a seat on an adjustable weight bench, setting the back at roughly 55 degrees.
  • Now, taking a dumbbell in each hand, sit back, let your arms hang freely, and slowly curl the dumbbells up until they are level with your chest
  • Hold at the top for a second, and then slowly lower then back down and repeat for as many reps as required
  • You can do double-arm curls at the same time, or alternate single-arm curls if you wish.

Recommend Reps: 8-10 Each Side

2. Concentration Curls:

Concentration Curls Aren't Working for You (HERE'S WHY!)

Perhaps the closest exercise to a preacher curl in terms of body mechanics is the concentration curl.

Concentration curls are fantastic for isolating the bicep and for adding a noticeable bicep peak.

Arnie was a keen fan of concentration curls, and as you know, he had bicep peaks like mountains, so they obviously worked for him.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start off by taking a seat on a chair or a bench placing your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Now, pick up a dumbbell you can control comfortably, and, keeping your palms facing away from you, lean forwards and place your elbow onto the base of your knee.
  • Slowly curl the dumbbell up towards your shoulder.
  • Once you reach the top of the movement, hold and squeeze for a second, and then slowly lower the dumbbell back down.
  • Repeat for as many reps as required and then repeat the exercise with the opposite arm.

Recommend Reps: 8-10 Each Side

3. Standing Barbell Curl:

How To: Barbell Bicep Curl | 3 GOLDEN RULES

Okay, this next exercise won’t give you as much control over the weight as the previous exercises, but it is still a truly fantastic exercise for anybody looking to add muscle mass to their arms.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Begin by taking a barbell, gripping it with an underhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Next, standing up straight, allow your arms to hang freely in front of you whilst you have hold of the barbell.
  • Now, slowly curl the barbell and bring it up into the air, until the bar finishes just below your chin.
  • Hold for a second and squeeze, making sure to keep your back nice and straight.
  • Slowly lower the barbell back down and repeat for as many reps as required.

Recommend Reps: 10-12

4. Single Incline Bench Dumbbell Curl:

Incline Bench Dumbbell Curl

One of the only downsides to preacher curls is the fact that you cannot perform them unilaterally (one arm at a time) and so both arms work at the same time.

This next exercise, however, is the best preacher curl alternative exercise as you can work one arm at a time.

Here’s how the single incline bench dumbbell curl is done:

  • Start off by setting a bench at a 45-degree angle, and taking a dumbbell in just one hand.
  • Next, firmly place the back of your arm against the bench and slowly extend your arm out until your elbow is nearly fully extended.
  • Now, securing your body against the bench with your free arm, slowly curl the dumbbell up towards you so that it nearly grazes your chin.
  • Hold at the top for a second and feel the bicep squeeze and then slowly lower it back to the start position.
  • Repeat for as many reps as necessary and then switch arms and go again.

Recommend Reps: 8-10 Each Side

5. Wall Curls:

Wall Support Bicep Curls

If you think bicep curls are easy, just wait until you try wall curls.

Wall curls are basically curls that are performed with your back firmly against a wall to stop you from cheating or leaning back.

Here’s what to do:

  • Take a set of dumbbells, or a barbell, or an EZ bar, and then back up against a wall so that your back is firmly against the wall.
  • Allow your arms to hang freely in front of you and then slowly curl the weight up towards your shoulders/lower chin, making sure to keep your back pressed firmly against the wall at all times.
  • Focus on really driving the weight up with your biceps so that your back remains secure against the wall.
  • Hold at the top of the exercise, slowly lower the weight and repeat for as many reps as needed.

Recommend Reps: 10-12

6. Spider Curls:

How to Perform Spider Curls - Big Biceps Arms Exercise

Spider curls may sound complex, but in reality, they are decidedly easy to do.

They get their name from the fact that your body sort of resembles that of a spider when you perform them, even though you obviously don’t have 8 legs.

Here’s what to do:

  • Take an adjustable bench and set it to a 45-degree incline.
  • Next, take a barbell, EZ bar, or set of dumbbells and lower yourself into the bench so that your chest is pressed against the pad, your feet are planted securely on the floor, and your chin is hanging off the edge of the bench.
  • Now, with your arms hanging freely, curl the weight up towards your chin as you would normally, hold at the top, and then slowly lower it back down.
  • Repeat for the required amount of reps.

Recommend Reps: 10-15

7. Cable Concentration Curls:

BICEPS DAY! - CABLE CONCENTRATION CURLS!

If you struggle to keep yourself steady when performing concentration curls, or if you simply wish to use a cable machine instead, this is one of the best alternatives that you could ever wish to perform.

Here’s what to do:

  • Set a cable machine to its lowest setting and attach an EZ bar to it.
  • Next, with an overhand grip, shoulder-width apart, grasp the bar and then squat down until your backside rests on your heels
  • Now, resting the back of your arms on your knees, slowly curl the bar towards your body until it is fully contracted.
  • Hold for a second at the top of the exercise and then slowly lower the weight back down.
  • Repeat for as many reps as needed.

Recommend Reps: 8-10 Each Side

8. Prone Incline Curls:

How To: Prone Incline Curl With Dumbbells (Spider Curl)

Last, but by no means least, we have prone incline curls.

These require nothing more than a bench and set of dumbbells and are great for isolating the biceps.

To perform prone incline curls you should:

  • Start off by grabbing a set of dumbbells with palms facing away from you, and lowering yourself chest-first, onto a bench set at a 45-degree angle.
  • Now, with your chest pressed against the pad of the bench, curl both dumbbells up until they’re level with your shoulders.
  • Hold for a second and then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for as many reps as required.

Recommend Reps: 10-15

Final Thoughts:

As you can see, as beneficial as preacher curls are, there are also heaps of alternatives, which is why we’ve looked at the best preacher curl alternative exercises you could ever wish for.

If you want to build up your biceps and add size and definition to them, any of the exercises above will work wonders.

Don’t believe us?

Just go ahead and see for yourselves.