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Practising perfect form is of prime importance when lifting weights in the gym. For habitual or irregular fitness enthusiasts, even a single mistake can leave you with aches and pains that can last for days - weeks if you’re unlucky.

Many Indian gym trainers might call the EZ bar a “zig-zag bar”, and just like its colloquial name, that zig-zag-shaped steel bar in your gym is a formidable piece of equipment while working on the muscles in your biceps. Bring the preacher bench into the equation, and you have a solid isolated exercise designed to build the upper arms.

Where it scores over the run-of-the-mill dumbbell or barbell curl (standing up or sitting down) is that it isolates your upper arms from the rest of your body. You would have seen several people straining every fibre of the muscles in their arms, raising their elbows, extending their backs and tilting their bodies in the opposite direction just to get the weights up to complete a rep. The preacher curl ensures you do not let those additional movements creep into your technique.

While Louis Dymeck introduced the EZ bar back in the 1950s, it wasn’t until another decade had passed when acclaimed bodybuilder and trainer Vince Gironda created the preacher bench. Around the time bodybuilding competitions like Mr Olympia were taking over, it was made popular by Gironda’s understudy Larry Scott, and a certain Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Target muscles worked:

Main muscle group: Biceps

Other muscle groups: None

  1. Benefits of EZ bar preacher curls
  2. How to do an EZ bar preacher curl for bigger muscles
  3. Precautions while doing EZ bar preacher curl
  4. Tips to do EZ bar preacher curl correctly
  5. Alternative exercises to build bigger biceps

Most arm exercises look simple: this is where the EZ bar preacher curl sets itself apart. It might look easy (pardon the pun), but it is far from it. As your arms are locked from your armpits, gaining leverage becomes impossible, unless you decide to get up from the bench altogether.

By anchoring the shoulders on top of the bench and locking the elbow on the resting pad, the range of motion of your arm becomes instantly limited. The elbow acts as leverage, while the forearm moves up and the wrist can stay locked.

One may find it easier to lift heavier weights during the standard dumbbell or barbell curls standing up, but when it comes to the preacher curl, the amount of weight may come down, as no other part of the body can be engaged in the process. The preacher bench cuts out the possibility of swinging your arm back up if the weight is too heavy - hence the lesser weights on the bar.

Performing the exercise using an EZ bar makes it doubly efficient: the zig-zag shape of the bar allows you to grip it in different ways: the closed grip to work the outer biceps and the wide one for the inner bicep muscles.

Another benefit of the EZ bar preacher curl is the emphasis on negative movement; with free weights, one tends to let go of the weight on the way down. Negative movements - dropping your arms after the curl, bringing the barbell back onto the chest - build more strength and promote muscle growth to its full extent.

The EZ bar is one of the best types of equipment to work with for your biceps, especially on a preacher bench, as it allows you to have a neutral, inward-facing grip which puts less strain on the wrists.

The only drawback of the exercise is that it requires a piece of specific equipment. Although it is available in gyms, performing this exercise at home or otherwise isn’t as convenient.

Experience level: Intermediate.

Those accustomed to the bicep curl would be able to perform it better than someone new to weight training exercises.

Equipment required: A preacher bench and an EZ bar

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

It is advised to perform this exercise under the guidance of a certified trainer, at least in the beginning. To do an EZ bar preacher curl, following the steps below. 

  • Sit down on the preacher bench with your arms over the cushion in such a way that your armpits lock the shoulders into position, and your entire upper arm is resting on the cushion.
  • Load the EZ bar with a pair of desired weights.
  • Pick up the EZ bar in one swift motion with an underhand grip, your arms shoulder-width apart and back straight, exhaling as you lift the weight towards your chest.
  • Inhale while slowly going back down to the resting position.
  • This is one rep. Repeat 10-12 times for a full set.

As the exercise isolates your arms and limits the movement of the rest of your body, there aren't many precautions that you need to keep in mind. 

  • While starting every repetition, the resistance is intensely high, therefore avoid swinging your arm in order to lift the weight.
  • Focus on the contraction in your bicep muscles. Start with weights you can manage to get 10-12 repetitions out of, and do not get up from the sitting position to gain momentum.

While the exercise might look easy, it requires a great amount of focus to get the best results possible from it. 

  • Choose a set of weights you’re comfortable with on the EZ bar, and that you can perform 10-12 reps with.
  • Do not try to stand up while picking up the EZ bar. It can put unnecessary strain on your lower back.
  • Focus on the negative movement and do not let the bar fall back down to the resting position.

No gym routine is complete without performing a collection of exercises. If you’re new to the preacher curl, find it difficult or don't have the right equipment, here are some alternative exercises:

  • Standing dumbbell curl
  • Standing barbell curl
  • Hammer curl
  • Incline dumbbell curl

It is always advisable to perform exercises like the EZ bar preacher curl in the presence of a certified fitness trainer or someone familiar with gym exercises so that they can correct your form and technique while you’re performing them and reduce the chances of an injury.

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