Standing Preacher Curl: How To Do, Form & Alternate

Standing Preacher curls are a biceps isolation exercise. Performed with your upper arms fixed to an incline bench, they’re a very strict movement, and it’s almost impossible to cheat the weight up.

With your arms stand at about 30-45 degrees in front of your body, the long head of your biceps is not much active during preacher curls as it is in other biceps exercises. This puts more tension on the short head, which is what gives your biceps their thickness.

The standing preacher curl, as the name implies, is the standing version of the basic seated preacher curl. You may also stand on the reverse side of the bench to execute the movement similar to a spider curl.

Standing Dumbbell Preacher Curl

The standing dumbbell preacher curl is an isolation exercise that targets the biceps, but the forearms, brachialis, and brachioradialis muscles receive stimulation as secondary movers.

It is usually performed by using a incline bench and a dumbbell.

Standing Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Muscles Used In The Preacher Curl

The preacher curl is going to primarily work the biceps, particularly the short head. The biceps are comprised of two heads (bi=two), a long head and a short head.

The muscles used in the preacher curl are:

  • Biceps Brachii (Short Head)
  • Biceps Brachii (Long Head)
  • Brachialis

Secondary stabilizing muscles worked during Preacher Curl: Core, Back and Leg Muscle.

Depending on the angle of the preacher curl, the hardest point of the preacher curl may be different. 

Execution Technique
  1. Adjust the bench to an incline level so that you can comfortably rest your arm down the back of the headrest.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in one arm and extend it over the bench so that your forearm and tricep are rested upon the bench.
  3. Hold on to the top of the bench with the opposite arm to stabilize your body and to balance the weight.
  4. Slowly curl the dumbbell up towards your shoulder, isolate the bicep and squeeze your muscle.
  5. Hold the position for 1-3 seconds and then lower the bar so that your arms are again fully extended.
Standing Dumbbell Preacher Form & Tips
  • Make sure to keep your upper arms flat on the bench during the exercise to eliminate cheating.
  • Perform this exercise in a slow, controlled manner for best results.
  • Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your biceps.
  • Your body should remain fixed. Only your biceps should be used to move the weight.

Standing Barbell Preacher Curl

The body should be positioned to allow the armpit to rest near the top of the pad. The back of the upper arm should remain on pad throughout movement.

Standing Barbell Preacher Curl
Execution Technique
  1. Standing with a staggered stance close to the preacher curl bench. Placing the back of your upper arms on the preacher bench pad, grab the barbell or EZ bar
  2. Curl the EZ bar until it reaches your shoulder level and get maximum contraction at the top.
  3. Hold the position for 1-3 seconds and then lower the bar so that your arms are again fully extended.
  4. Repeats the desired number of sets.
Standing Barbell Preacher Form & Tips
  • Do not lift off the back. Use your biceps only.
  • Keep the motion slow and controlled throughout the set.
  • Squeeze the biceps as hard as possible as you get the weight to the top.
  • Don’t go heavy. Choose a lighter weight and focus on perfecting your form.
  • Use a wide grip to work the inner biceps and a close grip to work the outer biceps.

What Are The Best Preacher Curl Alternative

Before we deep dive into the best preacher curl alternatives. We must remember, a good preacher curl alternative will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

1. Activate the bicep muscle groups which is trained in the preacher curl

2. Isolate the muscle groups during execution

3. Train the bicep muscle through a longer range of motion

Best Alternate of Preacher curl

The preacher curl is one of the most effective exercises for building the bicep muscle because the stability of the pad really lets you isolate the target area. But what if you don’t have a preacher curl bench?

Well, you needn’t worry. There are a variety of preacher curl alternatives that you can do without a bench.

Here are the 3 Alternate of Standing Preacher curl that you can do without bench at home or at Gym.

1. Zottman Curl

The dumbbell zottman curl is one of the best variations of the standard bicep curl. The Zottman curl utilizes different hand positioning at different portions of the lift.

The first portion, the regular curl, focuses on bicep strength. You can perform Zottman curls with both arms at the same time, or alternate the arm you lift with.

Zottman Curl
Execution Technique
  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells to your sides.
  2. Keep your palms facing up as you curl the weights up to your shoulders. Pause at the top of the movement.
  3. Slowly rotate your grip so your palms are facing downwards. Lower the dumbbells slowly back to the starting position using an overhand grip.
  4. When the dumbbells are close to your thighs, again turn your hands while returning to the starting position.

2. Concentration Curl

Concentration Curl is one of the best bicep exercises to build a biceps peak and thickness. This exercise should be a part of your arms exercise, as peaked biceps are very impressive to look at.

This exercise is done by bending at the torso using a dumbbell. Resting the upper arm against the thigh prevents movement at the shoulder and is an excellent way to isolate the biceps.

Concentration Curl
Execution Technique
  1. Bend down at your torso holding a dumbbell in your hand and resting your other arm on your thigh.
  2. Curl your arms to the maximum and twist your wrist. The little finger should be at an upper level than the thumb.
  3. Curl the dumbbell back to start position.
  4. Repeat the exercise with your opposite arm.

3. Standing Inner Biceps Curl

There are many possible variations for this movement. For instance, you can perform the exercise sitting down on a bench with or without back support.

You can (and should) turn your hands from the position when palms are facing each other to the position when palms are facing upwards.

Standing Inner Biceps Curl
Execution Technique
  1. Stand up with a dumbbell in each hand being held at arm’s length. The elbows should be close to the torso. Your legs should be at about shoulder’s width apart from each other.
  2. Rotate the palms of the hands so that they are facing inward in a neutral position.
  3. Curl the weights out while contracting the biceps. Your wrist should turn so that when the weights are fully elevated you have a supinated grip (palms facing up).
  4. Continue the movement until your biceps are fully contracted, and the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Hold for a second.
  5. Slowly begin to bring the dumbbells back to the starting position. Remember to rotate the wrists as you lower the weight in order to switch back to a neutral grip.

4. Barbell Curl

The barbell curl is a highly recognizable biceps exercise that builds biceps muscle mass. It’s a great exercise for seeing results in strength and definition.

A barbell curl is a pull-type, isolation exercise that works primarily on your biceps and also trains the muscles in your forearms. A wide grip focuses effort on the inner biceps (short head), whereas a narrow grip arks the outer biceps (long head).

Wide Grip Barbell Curl
Execution Technique
  1. Hold a barbell at arm’s length, using a shoulder-width underhand grip.
  2. Curl the bar up to shoulder level by bending your elbows.
  3. Lower the bar back down to the arms’ extended position.
  4. Repeat for desired reps.

No preacher curls bench? No problem! Use any of these alternatives to build your best biceps ever.


After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of how to do standing preacher curl and what makes up a proper preacher curl alternative.

As mentioned above, it’s important to isolate your arms and focus on the negative contractions when completing these exercises. By going slow, you’re able to add tension onto your muscle fibers to increase size and strength.

Are preacher curls safe?

Yes.  Preacher curls are safe.  Some will raise a concern due to the stress that it can put on the elbow. Now, there is some truth to this, but it doesn’t mean it’s dangerous, just that you need to follow precautions.  The main point is to use light weight.  This is an isolation movement.  Don’t try to use excessively heavy loads.  80%1RM (8 rep max) should be the max weight you should use.

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