Cable Preacher Curl Exercise Guide
Cable preacher curl 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.
Most gyms have cable pulley stations with adjustable weight stacks. You can choose a desired weight increment to perform biceps curls using pulley attachments such as small handles, straight bars and E-Z curl bars that have angled hand placements to help reduce the stress a straight barbell can place on the wrists.
Continued resistance throughout the full-range-of-movement is why you might choose cable preacher curls over E-Z bar preacher curls, or dumbbell preacher curls. Most bicep curl machines are set up in a similar way also. Ideally, the slope of the arm rest should point toward the lower part of the pulley to prevent it from getting in the way of the cable.
How To Perform Cable Preacher Curl Exercise?
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Place the preacher bench in front of a low cable pulley. Attach a short straight bar to the low pulley cable and select the weight you want to use on the stack. Sit on the bench with your upper arms on the pads and grasp the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing up) at about shoulder width.
ACTION (EXECUTION): While keeping your upper arms against the pad, pull (curl) the weight up towards your shoulder, squeezing your biceps hard at the top of the movement. Exhale as you do so, holding for a second at the top. Slowly lower the weight to the starting position.
Cable Preacher Curl Tips & Key Points
- Adjust the seat height so that your armpit is snug against the upper edge of the pad.
- Keep your upper arms fixed on the pads, and don’t lean back as you curl the weight up.
- Keep your elbows in line with your body.
- Control the weight during the set, especially on the way down.
Muscles Involved in Cable Preacher Curl Exercise
By doing biceps curls on a 45-degree angle you can shift more of the stress to the lower biceps. Now, while you can’t physically lengthen your biceps (length is genetically determined) you can give the lower biceps and upper forearms a thicker appearance.
- Main muscles: biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis
- Secondary muscles: pronator teres, extensor carpi radialis longus, flexor digitorum superficialis, flexor carpi radialis
- Antagonists: triceps, anconeus
Cable Preacher Curl Substitutes
Spice up and intensify your routine with these variations. These five variations will help take your biceps workout to the next level.
- E-Z bar preacher curl
- Barbell (straight bar) preacher curl
- Machine preacher curl
- One-arm cable preacher curl
Cable preacher curl is one of the best biceps exercises for several reasons.
First of all, the preacher bench serves the same purpose as the Arm Blaster: It keeps your elbows stable and helps prevent you from cheating. In other words, you can’t swing the torso and cheat like you can on standing barbell curls. That’s why the preacher bench is a favorite of many top bodybuilders. In particular, it helps develop the lower biceps near the elbow. Use a light enough weight so that you can keep your arms firmly against the pad without rocking your body.
In addition, using a low cable pulley for the biceps curl offers you a steadier (equal/uniform) and more stable resistance through the movement than is not possible when working with a barbell or dumbbells.
The standing barbell curl is probably the best exercise for building the belly of the biceps. However, to really fill in the lower biceps and brachialis (the muscle that connects the upper arm to the forearm) you’ll have to incorporate the cable preacher curls and reverse curls into your arm training. Generally speaking, basic compound exercises are best for the larger belly of the muscle and isolation exercises work for the origins and insertions.