Muscles Targeted: Cable preacher curls is one of the best isolation exercises for developing strength and size in the biceps. Although the primary muscle group targeted is the biceps, this exercise also hits the secondary muscle group of the forearms very effectively and builds stability and strength in the wrists.
Exercise Instructions: Place a preacher bench in front of a pulley machine and attach an EZ curl bar to the low pulley. Just like a regular preacher curl, curl the weight up toward your shoulders and squeeze your biceps at the top for a one-count for maximum stimulation of the biceps. Lower the weight back down to the starting position in a slow and controlled fashion and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Why This Exercise is Important: Building massive arms is usually one of the primary goals of regular gym-goers as well as serious bodybuilders. Blame it on Arnold Schwarzenegger who is best remembered posing with his big guns in full display. With cable preacher curls, you can successfully isolate the biceps and work this smaller muscle group of the upper arms. At the same time, the bicep muscle is used in a lot of everyday activities. With strong biceps, you can easily carry the groceries, move furniture around, and pickup your children. For women, well-developed and toned biceps is a license to wear sleeveless tops.
Things To Avoid: Before training your biceps, always do a proper warm-up set first to avoid injury and to get blood into the muscle. Avoid overtraining your biceps while neglecting your triceps. With cable preacher curls, you need to check your form and overall technique carefully. Choose the height of the preacher bench carefully, neither too low nor too high. The angle of the bench creates significant tension in your arms when fully extended. It is advisable to start this exercise using moderate weight and gradually increase it as you become more experienced. Lifting the correct weight will ensure that you place proper tension on the biceps while not injuring your arms, especially your wrists.
Make sure to avoid fast and jerky movements during the exercise. Do not contort your whole body to lift the weight up. Take advantage of the isolation style technique of cable preacher curls by using the biceps only. Do not rock back and forth as you are liable to throw out your back. Use your body for balance but not leverage. Nonetheless, watch out for your elbows. Straightening your arms does not mean snapping your elbows into a fully straightened position. Keep your elbows still. Some people use their elbows to lift more weight. This is incorrect form, as you are merely using them for leverage, and therefore you are not developing strength in your arm muscles. As you do this exercise, you will have the tendency to pull your arms and elbows forward to lift the weight. While this is unavoidable, keep the extra movement to a minimum.
Reps and Sets: Since your arm muscles are smaller than your shoulders, chest and back muscles, there is really no need to spend a lot of time training them. If you want to develop your arm strength as well as tone them, 1-3 sets at 10-12 reps is sufficient. But if you aim for a significant increase in size and strength, you need to do 5-8 sets per arm muscle but do not exceed this amount due to the smaller size of this muscle. Remember the old saying, “stimulate, don’t annihilate”. Take your entire program in consideration when deciding on the number of reps and sets that you will do.
Other Exercises To Use: If you want well-developed arms, you need to spend equal time on your biceps and triceps. Ironically, while biceps get the most attention, it’s the triceps that make up most of the mass of your upper arms. If one muscle group is stronger than the other, you will be prone to elbow injuries. Aside from cable preacher curls, you can also do barbell curls or alternating hammer curls. If you want to use your bodyweight as tension, do some chin ups. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the biceps.