T Nation

(Preacher Curls) Full Flexion = Wrong?


#1

I did a search and can't really seem to find anything regarding this.

Today at the gym I was doing barbell preachers. There is something I have noticed when doing preachers that I think may be hindering the exercise. It seems as though that once your forearms break the vertical plane your biceps are no longer fighting the gravitational resistance and actually become relaxed. In a standard curl with a proper stance, even at full flexion your bi's are still fighting that gravitational pull.

I've never really thought about it too much, but does anyone else think that this hinders what they could actually be gaining from the exercise? Perhaps bring the bar up to the exact moment before the vertical plane would produce better results?


#2

I think a lot of may have to do with bicep insertion points.

I remember seeing a video one time where Pwrbarboy (he is insanely jacked, insanely huge and insanely shredded) was doing strict EZ bar preacher curls. He mentioned that he would never do them any other way, and that he fully believed that it was a key contributor to his success in growing monster arms.

Now I, on the other hand, am not as jacked, huge, or shredded as this fella, but have a decent set of arms that I'm sporting. I feel the complete opposite as him, similar to you. When I hit the real "hole" of the movement it feels like the entire arm basically goes loose, and that I have to jerk the bar up from that position to get it up. Not only that, but then I never feel much soreness afterwards. Keeping that constant tension on the muscle seems to be the best way to approach the exercise for ME, and of course making sure to get a huge squeeze.

But I'm also going to surmise that this may many times be an individualized thing, as well as be dependent on the shape, length, and insertion of someone's arm.


#3

@OP: Yes I see where your coming from with this. My thoughts are of a similar line to yours, I think they are a good exercise but not a great exercise for that very reason. Time under tension must be a consideration when bodybuilding, like squats for instance, I have found I get more out of squats when I don't fully lockout at the top and keep tension on my muscles, the only exception to this rule for me is deadlifts, I pause at the bottom of each rep (to reset my form, but I always go as heavy as I can on deads). I think standing barbell or dumbell curls are better, and if you stand against the wall when doing them it stops the cheat and isolates the bi's a bit better.
Would be good to read what some of the more experienced lifters think of this.


#4

If you squeeze at the top there's no reason for you to be going loose. That being said, do the exercise however you feel it best works for you. There's no single right way to do an exercise, they are simply tools to get you huge so whatever works for you man


#5

Damn you and your thoughts OP! I already think too much and now you just gave me another thing to throw around in the back of my head! lol


#6

This is why a lot of lifters recommend the preacher curl machine or moving the preacher bench over to the cable rack - to keep constant tension.
I don't really know, there's other shit I'd rather be doing as an "alternative" to barbell curls, but a large reason that preachers at the end of my bicep repertoire is just like you said, once you reach that point there's not a whole lot of resistance. Try them in front of a low cable attachment if you're able to.


#7

I've always seen preacher curls as a 'finisher' exercise, rather than the main mass builders like your standard curls.

It's an exercise which is supposed to hit the biceps in the stretched position (supposedly hitting the "lower half")...I get the feeling this is more bro-science and probably one of the best ways of getting an injury due to the sheering action? lol. In the past, I never had a problem with my elbows until I started doing standard preacher curls.

There are different type of preacher curl though; one type (more vertical) gives the biceps greater tension at the fully contracted position (resistance, due to gravity/forearm position, is greatest when biceps are shortened/fully contracted) which is far superior IMO.

Many advanced lifters do this automatically when they do curls (keep load/tension on the biceps at the fully contracted position) which may involve some elbow drifting rather than so called text-book form.

IMO, the biceps are either fully contracted/fatigued, or they're not; there is no lower half/upper half to train (other than the brachialis). The best movement is the one that allows progression over time without hurting the joints/tendons. At the end of the day, you need to figure out what feels right for your body, and try to reduce redundant exercises as much as possible.


#8

Sounds like you need a steeper preacher bench.


#9

If I extend the whole way I feel my biceps is gonna fall apart.


#10

i think of the very top as an opportunity to squeeze squeeze squeeze then fight the negative on the way down. perception can be a funny thing, if you're thinking the movement isn't helping or "oh, i'm resting," well, that alone will fuck it up for you.

the science of it will allow a rest at the top but i've always used preacher as a real mental exercise, used for creating connection. i like to use it near the end to pump blood and focus on the pump.

the plate loaded preacher benches are nice because i'll use drop sets until the finishing weight is small, then i'll do single arms, back to 2 arms, then manipulate my hands to create a focus and burn in different spots along the muscle belly.

again, i don't think of it as a mass builder per se, but then again if done to create a maximal stress or pump, who is to say it's not a great exercise for growth.

additionally i like to steal a mat of some sort to put on top of the preacher padding, something spongy like a yoga mat, this allows me to dig in better and go a bit heavier without worry that my elbows will slide out of posititon. lastly, i like to keep overtop the pads not leaning away or back, keeping my shoulders out of the movement. this anatomical set up allows for less angle for rest at the top as well.

i suppose you could rest at the top but the hope w/ all movements is that we think and our instincts evolve, causing us to act in ways which make movements more challenging and not easier.


#11

I believe CT wrote an article (can't recall the title) about curl technique. In it he describes the way you should extend the wrist/hand at the top of the curl to keep tension on the biceps in the vertical plane.

This same technique works very well in Preacher Curls too.


#12

Scott curls?