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What Is a Preacher Curl Bar?

Preacher curl bars are popular for working the biceps.
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  • Written By: J. Schuessler
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2014
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A preacher curl bar is a specialized type of weightlifting bar that is commonly used to perform preacher curls, a popular exercise for the bicep muscles of the upper arm. It consists of a metal bar, about 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) in length, with a series of undulating curves in the middle section, allowing the user a choice of grips for performing preacher curls or other exercises. Like a standard barbell, a preacher curl bar is designed to have weights loaded onto both ends. Special collars are then affixed to the ends of the bar, keeping the weights from sliding off during exercise.

The preacher curl bar is most commonly associated with the exercise of the same name. In the preacher curl exercise, the exerciser sits at a preacher bench and rests his or her upper arms on the bench’s raised, downward-sloping armrest. From this position, the exerciser can pick up the bar and curl it upward toward his or her chin, thus working the bicep muscles. The preacher curl bar also can be used in a number of other exercises, mostly those involving the upper arms.

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Most preacher curl bars provide the user with two basic grip options: a wider grip and a narrow grip. When performing curl exercises, both grips allow the user to rotate their wrists slightly inward, which some users consider to be more comfortable than using a flat barbell grip. The wider grip is often used in preacher curls and standing bicep curls, and the narrower grip is suitable for exercises such as triceps presses or upright rows. The narrow grip also is sometimes used in curl exercises when a different angle of muscle stimulation is desired.

Preacher curl bars are relatively inexpensive, and most gyms have them in good supply. When a preacher curl bar is not available, other exercises can be substituted for those usually performed with one. For instance, many gyms are equipped with preacher curl machines that mimic the motion of a standard free weight preacher curl. Weighted cable and pulley systems can also be used in place of a bar in conjunction with a preacher bench. Finally, exercises such as peak curls, in which the exerciser sits with the upper arm propped against the inner part of the leg and curls a dumbbell toward his or her chin, can provide a similar workout experience to that of performing a traditional preacher curl with a bar.

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