Preacher Curl vs Barbell Curl [Sculpting Your Dream Arms]

There are multiple exercises available for the biceps that will help you get a big upper body. As an example, preacher curls and barbell curls are two of the most popular ones.

Although both exercises are good if you want to gain muscle mass, they vary in some important ways that make them more appropriate for various objectives and body types.

To help you in deciding which exercise fits you, we’ll explain and then compare preacher curl vs barbell curl in terms of benefits, and muscle activation, effectiveness.

so, let’s dive in!

What is a Preacher Curl?

A preacher curl is an isolation exercise that targets the biceps. It’s performed using a preacher bench, which is a bench with a padded surface and angled support for the arms.

To perform a preacher curl, you sit at the preacher’s bench and place your arms on the angled support. You then curl a dumbbell or barbell up towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows stationary.

This exercise can be done in a standing position as well.

Preacher Curl Benefits

  • More effective: Preacher curls are more efficient at targeting the biceps than other workouts.
  • More bicep isolation: Supports your arms, allowing you to isolate your biceps while using less of your other muscles. This will speed up the process of biceps growth.
  • Reduce tension on the wrists: other bicep exercises, like barbell curls, may cause discomfort and tiredness in your wrists.
    By keeping your wrists in a neutral position during preacher curls, you may lift higher weights with a lower chance of injury.
  • Increased size and strength: Preacher curls, like all other resistance training exercises, can help the biceps muscles get bigger and stronger.
  • Improved mind-muscle coordination: Preacher curls are isolated exercises, thus they require more focus and effort, which is crucial for increasing muscular development and strength and improving as a result.

What Is A Barbell Curl?

The barbell curl is one of the major exercises for big gains since it is recognized as the gold standard for adding significant bulk to the biceps. It is also challenging because you can add as much weight as possible just like bench presses, barbell rows, shoulder presses, and squats.

This exercise is considered an advanced variation of dumbbell curls in which you lift the weight with your arms using a barbell.

Barbell Curl Benefits

  • Engage many muscle groups at the same time: Barbell curl works the forearms and shoulders in addition to the biceps. This will help you improve your posture and enhance general upper body strength.
  • More challenging: barbell curls are that you can lift higher weights than with other bicep workouts. you can lift more weight than you could with dumbbells or other equipment since you’re using a barbell, as a result, you develop bigger biceps faster.
  • Improved grip strength & forearm: Curling with a heavy barbell demands a lot of grip strength that leads to enhanced grip strength and forearm growth over time.
  • Versatility: this exercise can be done in different positions, including standing, sitting, and with a narrow or wide grip. This adaptability enables a variety of variations to target various areas of the biceps and supporting muscles.

Preacher Curl vs Barbell Curl: Muscle Activation & Effectiveness

Now, we’ve discussed the benefits of preacher curls and barbell curls, let’s compare the two workouts to discover which one is better for developing stronger biceps.

Muscle Activation:

Preacher curls and barbell curls both work the biceps when it comes to muscular activation, but preacher curls do it more effectively.

A study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that preacher curls more effectively work the biceps than barbell curls do. Thus, preacher curls might be a better exercise for you if your goal is to develop bigger and stronger biceps.


Both preacher curls and barbell curls are effective for building muscle, but they target the biceps in different ways.

Preacher curls are more effective at isolating the biceps and reducing the involvement of other muscle groups. This can help you build bigger biceps more quickly.

On the other hand, barbell curls engage several muscular groups simultaneously, which can you increase your total upper body strength.

You might also enjoy reading our other curl exercise comparison Hammer Curl Vs Reverse Curl

Which One Is Safe Preacher Curl or Barbell Curl?

If performed correctly with a  good technique, preacher curls, and barbell curls are safe.

however, if you use too much weight, your elbows may become sore as well as you can feel uncomfortable in your wrist.

But for those who are prone to wrist injuries, preacher curls might be a better option because they put a smaller load on the wrists.

Barbell Curl VS Preacher Curl: Which Is Better?

Which workout is best for you, then? Your body type and goals will determine this. Preacher curls could be a preferable workout for you if your objective is to develop larger biceps and you’re less concerned with general upper body strength.

Barbell curls are a great exercise if you want to strengthen your entire upper body and correct your posture.

It’s essential to take your body type into account. Preacher curls could be a better choice for you if your wrists are weak or you frequently get wrist pain.

on the other hand, barbell curls could be a better choice for you if your wrists are strong and you can lift higher weights.


In summary, preacher curls vs barbell curls are two powerful biceps-building exercises. Barbell curls activate more muscle parts simultaneously and let you lift greater weights. 

Moreover, preacher curls are better at isolating the biceps and minimizing the participation of other muscle groups. preacher curls can be a preferable workout for you if you want to develop stronger biceps while lowering your chance of wrist injury.


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