Concentration Curl vs Preacher Curl: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?

Preacher curl vs concentration curl

What is a Concentration Curl?

A standard concentration curl

A concentration curl is a variation of a bicep curl performed with a dumbbell. It is performed while sitting and requires only one dumbbell.

What Does the Concentration Curl Work?

The concentration curl works the bicep brachii or your biceps muscles. This exercise is an isolation exercise so it isolates the biceps working them almost exclusively. 

Perhaps this is why it is called a concentration curl because it concentrates on your biceps and only your biceps.

Which Bicep Head Does the Concentration Curl Work Best?

Although this curl variation does work on both heads of the biceps the concentration curl works the long head of the bicep best.

This is the outside head of your bicep that gets shown off during the back double bicep pose.

It is also the bicep head that is mostly visible while performing the exercise and a good rule of thumb is the muscle seen is usually the muscle most worked and this is true here.

How to Perform the Concentration Curl and Concentration Curl Technique

To perform the concentration curl you need a dumbbell and a place to sit. While sitting have your legs spread and rest one of your elbows on the inside of your thigh.

While holding a dumbbell with that same hand perform curls while keeping your elbow pressed against the same spot on the inside of your thigh the entire time.

When you are done performing your repetitions switch arms and move to your other thigh to repeat the same movement.

Why and When to Do the Concentration Curl

The concentration curl is an isolation exercise and isolation exercises are far and few in between so when you are looking to build your biceps in particular this is a great time to do concentration curls.

Furthermore when you are looking to build the long head of your biceps to look better in back poses this is one of if not the best option for you.

Benefits of Concentration Curls

Minimal Equipment

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the concentration curl is the lack of equipment that is required to perform the exercise.

The only thing required to do this exercise is a weight you can hold in one hand. Whether that be a dumbbell a kettlebell or even an everyday object with a good grip it does not matter it will all work.

It is commonly believed the other thing you will need for this exercise is a place to sit.

Having a place to sit is highly beneficial although not required as the exercise can simply be done by squatting down or bending over slightly just enough to get your elbow on your thigh.

Famous bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger made this non-seated variation of the exercise extremely popular so much so that some even refer to it as the Arnold curl.

Isolation Excercise

The concentration curl is an isolation exercise, specifically an isolation exercise for your biceps.

This is highly beneficial for someone who wishes to develop their biceps as they can do so with complete confidence that they will be solely and exclusively targeted.

Improves Strength

Although the concentration curl is an isolation exercise it can still be used to gain strength if strength in your biceps is what you seek.

By simply raising the amount of weight used and in turn decreasing the number of reps performed you can easily turn this exercise into a difficult but high reward strength building exercise.

What is a Preacher Curl?

The preacher curl is a variation of a biceps curl that is executed while your arm or arms are supported in front of you, typically by a preacher bench.

Why is it Called Preacher Curl?

It is called a preacher curl because the position it puts you in mimics someone who would have their arms out preaching.

The way the underarm is rested on the cushion and arm fully extended only allows the wrists or a bit more to hang off the edge and in some cases not even that.

What Does the Preacher Curl Work?

The preacher curl works the bicep brachii or your biceps muscles. This exercise is another isolation exercise for your biceps so it isolates the biceps working them almost exclusively. 

Which Head Does Preacher Curl Work Best?

Perhaps one of the best things about the preacher curl is it has the ability to work either head of the bicep best depending on slight changes in how you perform the exercise.

If you perform the exercise with your elbows closer together you will better target the long head of the bicep but as you move your elbows further and further apart you will continue to better target the short head of the bicep. 

A common even ground would be keeping your elbows somewhere in between.

How to Preacher Curl

The preacher curl can be performed while either standing or sitting up. It can also be performed with a single or both arms.

Either way, the arm is rested on top of the cushion or the support equipment that is being used to the point that the underarm is touching the nearest part of the said cushion.

Sometimes the entire arm is rested here but if not only the wrists are hanging off the end leaving just enough room to grab the weight.

Then the curl is simply performed in this position with elbows and upper arm staying against the bench. Actively pushing down on the cushion with your upper arm while curling can help ensure keeping its position.

Why Preacher Curl and When to Use it

Preacher curls can and should be used when you want any kind of development at all in your biceps. Whether it is strength or size and even small head or large head you can always turn to this exercise.

You should use the preacher curl because of this reason and because everyone at some point needs some form of bicep development.

Benefits of Preacher Curls

Equipment Versatility

Preacher curls can be done with a variety of types of equipment but the most commonly used are dumbbells and barbells especially ez-curl bars.

Multiple Angles

As discussed the placement of how you do this exercise and the angles you use to perform it can provide multiple outcomes and greater benefits to different parts of the biceps.

Range of Motion

Another thing that is often overlooked about the preacher curl is the excellent range of motion it provides.

The preacher curl starts off with the arms fully extended and biceps fully stretched and ends in a position where the biceps are fully flexed.

Main Differences Between The Concentration Curl and Preacher Curl

The main difference between the preacher curl and the concentration curl is that preacher curls are hardest in the fully stretched position at the bottom of the lifting motion whereas the concentration curl is most difficult in the fully flexed position at the top of the rep.

Another key difference is that a concentration curl can only be performed with one arm and can not be performed with a barbell. 

Which is Better Concentration or Preacher Curl?

When choosing between two exercises it is usually hard to decide which is the better pick but in this case I believe there is a clear answer.

The preacher curl is a better choice than the concentration curl as it offers a wider variety of equipment, better forms of variation based on which biceps head you wish to target, and overall just better suited to meet your specific bicep related goals whatever they may be.

The only case in an argument I can see for the concentration curl is that it may still be doable with no or next to no equipment but if that is not an issue for you and you only choose one choose the preacher curl.

Should You Do Concentration and Preacher Curls?

The biceps are small muscles that recover fast (see Wat Muscles Recover the Fastest?) if you are looking for the best results and to achieve your goals as fast as possible it is always good to approach your goal with different tactics and as often as you can. 

So if including both concentration curls and preacher curls into your routine is doable then it is definitely not a bad idea and worth a go. Just ensure that you get the proper recovery and are not overtraining.

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