Are Concentration Curls And Preacher Curls The Same?

concentration curls
September 22, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “are concentration curls and preacher curls the same?”. A lot of people think the two exercises are exactly the same. However, this is not the case.

The article will explore both exercises and also discuss how useful they are in the bigger picture when it comes to building bigger biceps.

Are Concentration Curls And Preacher Curls The Same?

The answer is no, concentration curls and preacher curls are not the same. Both are isolation exercises for working the biceps. However, there is an important distinction between the two.

Concentration curls generally involve using dumbbells and are done seated on a bench. You rest your elbows on your inner knee and place your other hand on your other leg. You then perform strict curls from this position.

Preacher curls are typically done on a preacher bench. You rest your chest on the vertical part of the pad and your elbows on the downward sloped part of the pad. You can use either dumbbells or barbells for preacher curls. It is more typical for barbells to be used.

The angle of a preacher curl pad varies. It typically ranges from 30 degrees to 60 degrees. Preacher curls target the lower biceps more whilst concentration curls develop the peak.

Targeted Areas Of Both Exercises

While both concentration curls and preacher curls are isolation exercises to work the biceps, each exercise targets different areas. 

Preacher curls stimulate the forearms and lower bicep to a greater degree. Concentration curls on the other hand are fantastic at building a bigger bicep peak. Concentration curls were commonly used by old school bodybuilders like Arnold back in the day. 

Building A Good Base With Your Bicep Training

Like with building a house, you must lay the foundations first. The same is true with training your biceps. If you want to build very big biceps you shouldn’t start with these two exercises.

It would be better to utilise bicep exercises where you can use a lot more weight. Power exercises like barbell curls and dumbbell curls are some of the best for building a good base with your bicep training.

Weighted chin ups with an underhand grip is one of the best bicep exercises out there. You are moving your body through space and this exercise hits the biceps really hard. If you focus on progressing on the weighted chin up your biceps will grow substantially!

To learn more about the mistakes that you may be making in your biceps training check out this article I wrote here. You will find out what you need to do to rectify any mistakes and progress with your training. 

Preacher Curl Injury Concerns 

The preacher curl as an exercise isn’t the safest. This is because your biceps are positioned at an angle that makes them more vulnerable.

Many injuries have been reported on the preacher curl. These can range from very mild bicep tendonitis all the way up to a double bicep tear! It has to be said that many injuries on the preacher curl are caused by going too heavy or using too much body english.

The preacher curl is not an exercise that lends itself to the use of super heavy weight. The injury risk is simply too great. I would advocate using the preacher curl with moderate weight and focusing more on time under tension. 

The video below shows a bicep tear from doing the preacher curl. These guys were engaging in a competition to see who could preacher curl the most weight. There is being brave and then there is being stupid. You have to always carefully evaluate the risk to reward ratio when deciding to take any risk.

There is a fine line between success and failure. The video below is a good illustration of this. Ego lifting in general is the cause of many injuries in the gym and I have discussed this before in a previous article.

How Heavy Should You Go?

This is a great question as it pertains to the preacher curl and concentration curl. It should be re-iterated that both exercises are not outright power movements. It is far better to focus on time under tension training.

Treat the preacher curl and concentration curl as bodybuilding isolation exercises. Definitely try out some tempo reps on these exercises. You will find that this will elicit greater growth in the biceps than risking injury by going super heavy.
concentration curls

My Experiences

As someone who has experience performing concentration curls, free weight preacher curls and machine preacher curls, I am well placed to share my experiences.

The funny thing is that the concentration curl is one of the first exercises that I discovered in my training journey. My school friend got me interested in lifting weights and I would follow his workouts initially.

He was very much a fan of doing concentration curls and I became a fan also. I performed this exercise religiously for a long while. I found it to be really good at isolating the biceps and pretty safe.

Later on down the line I discovered the preacher curl and machine variation. I have tried them both and would say that machine preacher curls are safer. My advice would be to go with machine preacher curls over the free weight version to reduce the chance of injury.

Overall, I personally prefer the good old fashioned standing dumbbell curl, hammer curl and zottman curl over concentration curls and preacher curls nowadays. If you want to build great biceps and forearms, those three exercises will give you a fantastic base!

Final Thoughts

Are concentration curls and preacher curls the same? The answer is clear that they are not the same. Preacher curls focus more on the lower biceps and forearms, while concentration curls target the bicep peak to a greater degree.

Both are great isolation exercises, however the focus shouldn’t be on going super heavy. The risk of injury is too great with heavy weights on these type of movements – especially with preacher curls.

My advice would be to build a good base in your biceps training first. The concentration curl and preacher curl exercises are icing on top of the cake. 

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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