Bicep Preacher Curls Done Right!

One of the best bicep isolation exercises that you can do is the Preacher Curl.

However, most people do this exercise WRONG…
But I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, because up until very recently I was one of those people who screwed up and made a critical mistake when doing preacher curls.

Part of the problem with preacher curls is the actual preacher bench itself.
Most gyms have benches with flat angled arm pads such as the ones pictured below:
Typical Preacher Benches That You’ll Find In Most Gyms…

Preacher Curl Bench Preacher Curl Bench

These “modern” preacher benches are NOT designed the way the preacher bench was intended to be, they both have 1 major flaw…

You see old time bodybuilding legend Vince Gironda (aka The “Iron Guru”) made the Preacher Curl popular way back in the mid 1900’s. And the original preacher benches did NOT have flat arm pads like the benches shown above.

But rather the preacher bench is supposed to have a rounded arm pad such as the old-school preacher bench pictured below:
Old School Preacher Bench With The Rounded Arm Pad…
Old School Preacher Bench With Rounded Pad

Having the rounded pad helps you to maintain proper upper body position as you do preacher curls. But regardless of what type of preacher curl bench you have at your gym, you can still make do and correct your technique using the tips that I cover in the video clip below…


Click PLAY To Watch Video

Note: If for some reason you can’t watch the embedded video here on this page,
then you can watch it directly on my YouTube Channel at:

Basically, the big mistake most people make is they round over too much on the bench and rest the back of the arms totally flat against the pad. Now granted you can still work the biceps by doing this, but you are limiting the amount of weight you can lift, and you are also limiting the range of motion for the exercise.

However, if you keep your chest held high and hold your elbows just over the edge of the pad (as shown in the pictures and video) you’ll get a much better muscle pump throughout the biceps and you may actually find that you can handle more weight with stricter form!

Preacher Curls Proper Form

Give this preacher curl variation a try in your next bicep workout, and then leave me a comment below letting me know how it works for you… 😉

And if you want to get some more interesting old-school bodybuilding tips & tricks, be sure to pick up a copy of the Vince Gironda Program at:

This book is jam packed with 334 pages of absolutely inspirational and fascinating info for any bodybuilding fan. It’s one of those books that you can just get lost in…
Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down, it’s that good!

And right now you can download a copy of this for yourself over at:

Vince Gironda - The Iron Guru
Vince Gironda – The Iron Guru & Trainer Of Champions!

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Leave A Reply (24 comments so far)

  1. mike
    4 years ago

    Wouldn’t the two versions of the preacher curl you display here work a different part of the bicep? Upper vs lower?

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  2. Casey Butt
    4 years ago

    Actually, Vince Gironda DID NOT invent the Preacher Curl bench.

    The Preacher Curl bench was invented by Harvey and Dale Easton of Easton’s Gym in Hollywood (which is still open today). Gironda trained at Easton’s gym in his early-20s and copied the bench when he eventually opened his own gym in 1948. The bench became famous because of Larry Scott’s use of it and association with Vince’s gym.

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  3. Steve
    4 years ago


    You’re absolutely right, Mike. The first method is like doing concentration curls with a barbell and is very good at working the bicep’s peak.

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  4. Nelson
    4 years ago

    Great info Lee, Like you I was taught the wrong way, Back in the 60’s we called The Preacher Curl ( The Larry Scott Curl ) who made it famous. Like you mentioned the arm rest were different in those days. I like doing the bent over hanging dumbell curls along with Hammer curls and Straight bar curls…Thanks for the tip Lee. Stay Strong Herc.

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    4 years ago

    But like Vince Gironda says in his book, “THERE IS NO WRONG WAY” when it comes to bodybuilding, both are good in there own way

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  6. leehayward
    4 years ago

    Casey Butt:
    Actually, Vince Gironda DID NOT invent the Preacher Curl bench.

    The Preacher Curl bench was invented by Harvey and Dale Easton of Easton’s Gym in Hollywood (which is still open today).Gironda trained at Easton’s gym in his early-20s and copied the bench when he eventually opened his own gym in 1948.The bench became famous because of Larry Scott’s use of it and association with Vince’s gym.

    Thanks for pointing that out, a lot of people mistakenly associate Vince Gironda as the inventor of the preacher bench.

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  7. Gil
    4 years ago

    Hey Lee, Thanks for the info. I actually discovered the proper technique you’ve just mentioned by accident. I was doing preacher curls and was actually doing them the way you demonstrated was the “wrong” way and it just didn’t feel comfortable for me. So, I did just as you mentioned and straightened up with my chest higher and my elbows at the top. I felt a much better stretch and the technique was just much more comfortable for me to do and just did them that way ever since …go figure. I actually did something correct for once. Thanks for All That You Provide Lee. Take Good Care.


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  8. Mike B. Sullivan
    4 years ago

    Hi, Vince. But, I can swear that at my gym and at other gyms the actually preacher curl bench is set the other way around than the way it’s shown in your photo above. In other words, the slope part or the part that’s at like a 45 degree angle is in the front & the elbows are rested on the slope version. Now, I may be wrong. But if I’m not, what do you suggest, to take out the adjustable preacher curl bench and slide it in the other way so that the slope part/angled part is in the back? Thanks, Lee. You provide such useful info. not just here but on other parts of your website. Hope to hear from you. Thanks, again. :)

    –Mike from San Diego

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  9. Mike B. Sullivan
    4 years ago

    Mike B. Sullivan,

    Correction: Sorry, I meant “Hi, Lee”. I’m really sorry I was thinking about Vince Gironda & this guy who has been e-mailing me on bodybuilding mass secrets (“Skinny Vinny” Vince).

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  10. Alex
    4 years ago

    I still call them scott curls.. and i usually perform them facing the machine the opposite way that you are performing them.. might give it a try on that way just to hit them from another angle..
    Whenever i use too much weight when curling i tend to get pain on my elbow so i strive for lower weight higher concentration and rep range.. this might be helpfull

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  11. Mike B. Sullivan
    4 years ago


    Hi, Alex. Thanks for your input since preacher curls or scott curls can be very hard on the elbows. I’ve been doing heavy weights & low reps since I’m a hard-gainer trying to put on mass quickly. But, the risk of an injury isn’t worth it, so I will do like 9 or 10 reps for 3 sets on the preacher curl from now on, instead of 4 to 8 reps.

    Question: So, Alex, you too have the scott curl at your gym the other way than it’s pictured in the photo here? Then, it IS possible to slide out the preacher curl and have the slope part inward towards the chest, right?

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  12. Alex
    4 years ago

    Mike B. Sullivan,

    Hi Mike. The most of the problems i had on the past on my elbows were due to heavy standing full range of motion straight barbell curls.. wich then transferred to all my curls.. i solved it by only using the EZ bar and totally erradicating straight barbell curls.. same goes for when im curling on the preacher bench.. i also did a lot of hammer curls while working around the injury, they are much better on the elbows.
    In my gym i have a preacher machine that only works one way, and a preacher bench wich can be used both ways, thats the one in wich i will try to do it this new way.
    As for reps what i usually do is start with 12 then 10 then 8 and then 6 for my working set, in wich i will try to curl my fists a bit in, wich seems to help.
    Hope i could help, keep strong !!

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  13. Mike B. Sullivan
    4 years ago


    Thanks so much, Alex. You answered my question very thoroughly leaving no stone unturned. It’s so amazing that you kind of knew I had tennis elbow. I recently purchased an elbow wrap, glucosamine vitamins, learned a few tennis elbow stretches on & also bought a vitamin supplement called Arnica Montana. Arnica Montana is almost like a miracle vitamin. It provides almost instantaneous relief and it has been around for centuries like Ginseng. Arnica Montana not only cures part of the pain and provides relief and better range of motion, but it also speeds up healing time. College-league baseball pitchers have used it. I STRONGLY suggest people use it for tendonitis in areas like the elbow (tennis elbow). Tennis elbow is a common injury for high intensity bodybuilding.

    Thanks, again Alex and I hope you always find the time to warm up with doing the 1st set of any exercise with low weights & high reps (like 15 reps for the 1st set of any exercise). It may be an extra thing to do, but it will prevent injuries which are so much of a let down. Sure you can learn from your injuries after you get them (and that’s the only positive thing about injuries), but it’s infinitely better to learn to avoid them! Stay healthy and injury free! :)

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  14. Thomas J Ahern(Irish)
    4 years ago

    I don’t know how “handy” anyone is,but I am 67 yrs of age & have a home in W Melbourne Fla (winters) but am a NH resident.Money is tight(fixed income-retired),so I made my own Preacher Benches out of 2 by 6s & padding.Not as fancy as the professional ones but it’s amazing how many things you can make if you have a home gym & need two of everything! Just a helpful idea but if you make things yourself,they needn’t be adjustable,because they are made only for you.Try it,all that you need buy are the basics.Wts,etc. Irish(nickname)

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  15. leehayward
    4 years ago

    Some folks refer to preacher curls done on the flat side of the pad as “spider curls”. But regardless of what side of the pad you use the exercise is very similar, basically just a stricter way to do bicep curls.

    I personally like using the flat side of the pad, but others may prefer to use the 45 degree angle side. What I suggest is try both ways, see which one you like the best and which one gives you the best arm workout.

    However, one thing you’ll find with this technique of just resting your elbows over the edge of the pad and not resting the triceps flat on the pad is that it really doesn’t matter that much which side you use. I’ve done this move on both sides and there isn’t a lot of difference between the two sides in how the biceps work with this technique.

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  16. Ali
    4 years ago

    I have always done it the “right” way.. it has somehow always felt much better.
    I do the preacher curls sitting down, though i think i’d be able to use much heavier weights if i did it standing up.
    Lee, which would you recomend? standing up or sitting down?
    You seem to have the seat missing on your machine lol.

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  17. Steven
    4 years ago

    Great tips.

    Doing preachers is the only time I injured myself in the gym (knock on wood) and I haven’t done them since.

    I’ll give your variation a try and see how it goes.

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  18. Gince Vironda
    3 years ago

    @Casey Butt Lee NEVER said Vince INVENTED the preacher curl, he said, “VInce MADE THE PREAcHER CURL POPULAR”

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  19. anthony
    3 years ago

    Wouldnt it be beter to ajust the preecher bench to the proper hight i found that was my prolem of doing them ronge

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  20. Casey Butt
    3 years ago

    @Gince Vironda That’s exactly what he said. Watch the video. “For those who don’t know, Vince Gironda actually invented the preacher curl machine, so he’s the man to know how it’s supposed to be done.”

    It’s not a big deal, many people believe that… but I bet it irritated the Easton brothers. 😀

    Gince Vironda,

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  21. leehayward
    3 years ago

    Casey Butt,

    Yeah, I made that mistake in the video. But the exercise info is still the same regardless.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  22. Ayan Patra
    3 years ago

    I’m very much pleased to know about the right way rather procedure of Preacher curl seriously.if you tell me the more about those right or wrong way of practices biceps & triceps workout,it will be very much helpful for me.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  23. Jason
    3 years ago

    You ever worked out at Stern’s Gym on Grenada ave.?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  24. Jerry
    9 months ago


    >”a lot of people mistakenly associate Vince Gironda as the inventor of the preacher bench”

    Mistakently? Perhaps not.

    Unless someone can say in a credible way that when Vince Gironda was hired by the Easton brothers to be a trainer in their gym, Harvey and Dale Easton already had a preacher bench in their gym, then the answer is not clear. There are several factors to indicate that Vince Gironda actually invented the preacher bench that was used by him as a training aid in the Easton gym before going out on his own where he could practice his own methods without interference and without compromise.

    The purpose of the preacher bench is to allow a person to isolate certain muscles while exercising. Who promoted the concept of isolating muscles after Gironda left the Easton gym? Harvey Easton? Dale Easton? Or Vince Gironda?

    Gironda was opposed to conventional squats and conventional bench presses. Such exercises don’t isolate the muscles in the manner that Gironda wanted. What about the Easton brothers? Can it be said that they opposed squats and bench presses in their gym? Can it be said that they wanted to isolate the muscles in the same way that Gironda did?

    Of those who trained in the two respective gyms, who came out of the gyms with arms that looked like they had trained on the preacher bench? If the Easton brothers actually invented the preacher bench instead of Gironda while employed as a trainer in their gym, why didn’t they pride in inventing it and in promoting it in their gym, like Vince Gironda, so that they had people like Larry Scott, Don Howorth, Bill McArdle, and others?

    The invention of the preacher bench was innovative. After it was invented, who came up with similar innovations? The Easton brothers? Or Vince Gironda?

    When Vince Gironda was alive and it was commonly thought that he invented the preacher bench, did the Easton brothers ever express their objection to such belief? Gironda regularly wrote a column in Iron Man for years. Did the Easton brothers even once express an objection to such a belief in Iron Man magazine? And when he wrote for Robert Kennedy’s magazines in Canada, did they ever express such an objection?

    The Easton brothers hired Vince Gironda as a trainer for a good reason. He knew what he was doing. He left their gym and started his own gym for good reasons. He could promote his own ideas, such as isolating the muscles, and do so without others interfering with his actions and claiming to innovate any of the concepts that he did.

    I suggest, that after the preacher bench was invented, the subsequent actions of Vince Gironda and the Easton brothers when Gironda was alive indicates that Gironda, not the Easton brothers, invented the preacher bench.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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