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preacher curl pain

hey guys - I 24 and have been training reguarly throughout my 20’s. I’ve done preacher curls off and on and never had any problems. Recently I completed my first HST cycle. The weight I was able to preacher curl shot up dramatically (from 75x5 to 100x5). I was doing preacher curls as someone recommended on this site - keeping elbows close to the top of the pad. This is something I have never done before. Towards the end of the HST cycle, I began experiencing a lot of elbow pain. Is this because of my increase in weight? Possible muscle imbalances? Or maybe the advice I read on the site didn’t work for me? I’m not sure but 4 weeks later I still am avoiding preachers because of the pain and am focusing on incline curls instead. I suppose there are lots of possibilities, but any thoughts are welcome.

BTW, what’s up with tribex burps? Just had one. God I hate those :slight_smile:

Thanks guys

  • GTJason

Years ago, I had my own preacher bench, and like you, I had progressed and worked at it. Then I started having the same pain kinda like at the insertions at the top of the forearm where it meets the lower biceps. I thought it was becasue I didin’t warm up enough, but I never got rid of that pain, until I stopped preacher curls altogether. I have been convinced since then, that they’re not for me, and I can do barbell/db curls freestanding and work it just as effectively. Also Zottman curls, incline db curls, etc.

It sounds as though you are not letting your upper arms rest on the pad as you normally would during a preacher curl. Lay off the preacher curls for a while, ice around your elbows 2-3x a day. And when you come back to the preacher curls use the pad to support your arms, and make sure your wrists are neutral and not bending towards you. That sometimes can cause forearm pain. As for the burps take tribex before you eat that gets rid of the burps…not sure which is worse tribex or the fish oil…

A little kinesiology and biomechanics lesson might explain this one, fellas. In all, the two heads of the bicep brachii combine to cross three joints: the humeroradial and humeroulnar (elbow), and the glenohumeral (shoulder). The biceps brachii are most commonly viewed as elbow flexors, but what most trainers don’t realize is that they have several other functions: supination of the forearm and transverse flexion at the shoulder. And, of most importance to this discussion, the biceps brachii (especially the short head) also contributes to shoulder flexion.

When the shoulders are more flexed (as in a preacher curl), the biceps are put in a state of active insufficiency. Active insufficiency is the limited ability of a muscle that crosses two or more joints to produce optimal force when a specific joint position places the muscle on ?slack.? Active insufficiency explains why we can lift more weight on a standing barbell curl (shoulder extended) than we can on a preacher curl (shoulder flexed). That being said, in a preacher curl, you put the muscle at a mechanical disadvantage: something that we are programmed to avoid subconsciously. Since it is essentially an unnatural position for us, it puts us at an increased risk of injury, so moderation in usage is best for keeping the tissues involved in elbow flexion healthy. The preacher curl is still a great exercise; it?s just that some people can tolerate it for prolonged periods better than others.

I?m willing to bet that you?ve got a case of bicipital tendonitis, the causes of which include: Poor lifting techniques, chronic repetitive upper extremity activities (e.g. overhead throwing athletes), overload (usually eccentrically), lack of flexibility, anatomical abnormalities (eg, fractures, first rib subluxations). Ice it for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 3-4 days or until the pain goes away. Be sure to avoid any activities that aggravate it, too.

How can you not like tribex burps?:slight_smile:

Not to lessen the importance of Eric’s mini-dissertation above, but there could be a simpler explanation for the pain. Are you using free weights or a machine? If it’s a machine, then make sure that your elbows are lined up with the rotational axis of the machine’s “joint”. In other words, there’s going to be a hinge of some sort connecting the bar to the weight stack; make sure that your elbow(s) are lined up with that hinge so that you’re forearms are tracking the same arc as the machine’s bar.


About 95% of the people who use machines for preacher curls don’t have themselves lined up correctly. And of course this leads to problems eventually.