Concentration Curls and Preacher Curls are both curl variations that put an emphasis on eliminating momentum from the movement. Swinging the weight at the bottom of a rep is easily one of the biggest mistakes I see constantly in the weight room.
Concentration Curls utilize a dumbbell and your own thigh to lock the elbow in place while a Preacher Curl uses a preacher curl bench and an EZ curl bar to do the job.
In this article, I’ll compare Concentration Curls and Preacher Curls including the benefits and proper technique. In a few minutes, you should have a good understanding of the differences between the two movements and which one may be best suited for your training goals.
- Flat Bench (although almost any kind of chair or box that you can sit on will work)
- Start in a seated position on the edge of a bench, knees bent with feet flat on the ground slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Hold a dumbbell in the right hand, lean slightly forward and rest the right elbow on the inside of the right thigh.
- Now, curl the dumbbell up to shoulder level by flexing the biceps. Palm should finish up, facing the shoulder.
- Squeeze the biceps at the top of the rep and then lower back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps and then switch to the other side.
The biggest mistake I see with Concentration Curls is bad technique stemming from trying to use too much weight. If you need to swing the dumbbells or contort and twist your body to curl the weight up – it’s too heavy. Lower the weight and use proper form.
Benefits of Concentration Curls
As the name would suggest, Concentration Curls allow you to concentrate on one arm at a time. This can help to prevent muscular imbalances to occur in your development.
By wedging the elbow into the thigh and locking it in place you prevent swinging and the use of momentum. This places (dare I say, concentrates) the focus directly on the biceps itself to create the movement.
RELATED –> The 10 Best Concentration Curl Alternatives
- Preacher Curl Bench (or an adjustable bench)
- Barbell or EZ Curl Bar
- First, adjust the preacher curl bench so that the bench sits comfortably into the armpits.
- This position should allow the triceps to lay flat against the bench.
- Grab the bar (barbell or cambered bar) or have it handed to you by a partner.
- Flex the biceps and curl the bar towards the shoulders, squeezing the biceps at the top of the rep.
- Lower back down under control and stop just short of lockout.
- Raise the bar back up and continue until all reps are completed.
Stop the arm short of locking out at the bottom. Fully extending the arm at the bottom of a Preacher Curl rep can place a lot of unnecessary strain on the elbow. Stop just short of lockout each rep and then curl back to the top.
There are several benefits to incorporating preacher curls into your workout routine, including:
- Isolated muscle activation: Because the upper arms are rested on a preacher bench during the exercise, preacher curls allow for a stricter range of motion and more isolated muscle activation, particularly in the biceps brachii and the brachioradialis muscles in the forearm. This can help to build and strengthen these specific muscles more effectively.
- Increased biceps strength and size: As with any resistance training exercise, regularly performing preacher curls can help to increase strength and size in the biceps muscles. This can improve overall upper body strength as well as enhance athletic performance.
Overall, preacher curls are a valuable exercise for building and strengthening the biceps.
Concentration Curls vs Preacher Curls: Which is Better?
Now, let’s take a side-by-side look at the two biceps exercises and discuss if one is better than the other for some common lifting goals.
Better For Developing Strength and Size: Preacher Curls
Generally speaking, barbell variations allow you to move more weight than dumbbell variations when comparing similar movements. And, generally speaking, the more weight you can move the more strength (and muscle mass) you can develop.
This concept holds true when comparing Concentration Curls and Preacher Curls.
Preacher Curls also have the advantage of being able to create more leverage with a preacher curl bench than you can by simply using your thigh. This all leads to me giving the edge for strength and size development to Preacher Curls.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean you should abandon Concentration Curls and only do Preacher Curls. Concentration Curls have their own advantages and periodically including both in your workouts is the best way to achieve a well-rounded strength program.
Finally, Concentration Curls are actually one of my favorite Preacher Curl alternatives. If you don’t have access to a preacher curl bench, I would definitely consider giving them a shot.
Better For Beginners: Toss Up
When I program exercises for beginners I opt for movements that are safe, easy to learn and easy to execute. In my opinion, both exercises check all three boxes.
Just remember to always focus on technique first and foremost, start light and then gradually increase in weight once your technique is proficient.
I just spent the back half of this article comparing which is better, Concentration Curls or Preacher Curls. The truth is, assuming you have the proper equipment, there is no reason you can’t have both exercises in your strength training program.
Both exercises are effective curl variations. Plus, by utilizing both exercises you can add variety to your workouts and keep them from getting stale.
So, my final suggestion is to figure out how you can incorporate both Concentration Curls and Preacher Curls into your training.