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Are Preacher Curls Dangerous? (Can They Cause Bicep Tear?)

If you’re wondering whether preacher curls are dangerous, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we look at preacher curls in terms of the risks associated with them, safety considerations, and why preacher curls might hurt while you’re doing them.

man doing preacher curls

Are Preacher Curls Dangerous?

No exercise is 100% safe.

The whole point of training is to put added stress onto your body, so that it gets bigger, stronger, fitter, and better adapted to the things you want it to do. 

There are some exercises that have an increased risk factor to them and you could argue that preacher curls are one of them.

The main reason for this is that using the incorrect technique or too much weight can put a serious strain on your shoulders and bicep tendons.

Preacher curls are better suited to lighter weights and a large range of motion.

The technique is important to get right to avoid placing excessive stress and strain on your joints, muscles, and tendons.

Can Preacher Curls Cause Injury?

Any exercise can cause injury if not performed correctly. 

While preacher curls are no exception to this, they also have a slightly elevated risk factor due to the position you have to take while performing the exercise.

Your biceps are placed under a lot of stress during preacher curls, so if you’re not careful, you can pick up a muscle injury fairly easily.

Also, your elbows and shoulders are placed in vulnerable positions so you may pick up a joint injury in these areas.

That said, preacher curls are unlikely to cause injury if your technique is correct and the weight you’re lifting is appropriate for your fitness level.

Care needs to be taken though to minimize the risks associated with preacher curls.

Safety Considerations When Performing Preacher Curls

A road with the words Safety First painted on in yellow paint next to double yellow lines

Use The Correct Technique

Technique is important in any exercise, but it’s especially important for exercises with an increased risk factor such as preacher curls.

Using the correct technique can make a huge difference in ensuring you’re as safe as possible during your training. 

Even small errors in technique can result in pain, discomfort, or injury.

Lift An Appropriate Weight

Trying to lift heavy weights during preacher curls is usually a bad idea.

It’s far safer to use lighter weights and perform the exercise with a large range of motion.

Heavy weights significantly increase the risk of injury through poor technique and excessive strain placed on the working muscles and joints.

Can Preacher Curls Tear Your Biceps?

Bicep tears commonly occur when an elbow is pushed straight against a heavy weight. 

As this can happen during preacher curls, during the lowering phase (if you overextend your elbows), it’s possible that preacher curls can tear your biceps.

However, if you’re doing preacher curls in a safe, controlled way, your biceps are unlikely to tear during the exercise.

Should You Fully Extend On Preacher Curls?


Locking out any joint during exercise is usually a terrible idea.

It becomes even worse of an idea when that joint is under stress from a weight too.

Locking out your elbows during preacher curls significantly increases the risk of a torn bicep, as well as other muscle and joint injuries.

Stopping the lowering phase of the movement before your elbows lock out also helps keep the working muscles under tension.

This typically results in more gains in size and strength.

Why Do Preacher Curls Hurt?

Preacher curls can hurt for a number of reasons and knowing which one is relevant for you is crucial for training benefits.

Preacher curls are designed to cause micro-tears in your biceps in order for them to repair and grow.

This obviously causes some mild discomfort, so you might experience some level of soreness if you’re performing preacher curls effectively.

Other reasons could be due to negative influences, such as an injury in your biceps, poor technique, too much weight being lifted, or an injury in the muscles or joints surrounding the biceps.

If you’re experiencing anything other than mild discomfort during or after preacher curls, it’s a good idea to speak with a medical professional to rule out any injuries.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Do Preacher Curls?

Despite the popularity of preacher curls, they aren’t suitable for everyone.

Here’s a breakdown of who should and shouldn’t do preacher curls:

Who Should Do Preacher Curls?

  • Intermediate and Advanced Lifters: Preacher curls are best suited for intermediate and advanced lifters who have a good foundation of overall strength and fitness.
  • Individuals with Healthy Elbows and Wrists: Preacher curls can put a lot of strain on the elbows and wrists, so it’s important to have healthy joints before attempting this exercise.
  • Those with a Specific Training Goal: If your goal is to improve your biceps strength and aesthetics, preacher curls can be a beneficial exercise to include in your training routine.

Who Shouldn’t Do Preacher Curls?

  • Beginners: If you’re new to strength training, it’s important to build a solid foundation of overall strength before attempting isolated exercises like preacher curls.
  • Individuals with Elbow or Wrist Injuries: Preacher curls can exacerbate existing elbow or wrist injuries, so it’s important to avoid this exercise if you have any pain or discomfort in these areas.
  • Those with Limited Range of Motion: If you have limited range of motion in your elbows or shoulders, preacher curls may not be suitable for you.

Alternatives to Preacher Curls

If you fall into any of the “shouldn’t do preacher curls” categories, there are still plenty of other exercises you can do to target your biceps.

Here are some alternatives to preacher curls:

  • Standing Barbell Curls: Standing barbell curls are a classic biceps exercise that targets the entire biceps muscle.
  • Hammer Curls: Hammer curls are a variation of biceps curls that target the brachialis muscle in addition to the biceps.
  • Chin-Ups: Chin-ups are a compound exercise that target the biceps, back, and shoulders, making them a great overall upper body exercise.

Consult with a Professional

As with any new exercise, it’s important to consult with a qualified fitness professional before attempting preacher curls or any other exercise.

They can help you determine if this exercise is suitable for you based on your individual fitness level, goals, and any existing injuries or conditions.


In summary:

  • Preacher curls aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can be riskier than other bicep exercises.
  • As long as you use a suitable weight and don’t lock out your elbows, you should be able to do preacher curls safely.

That’s all for this article, but what head do preacher curls work? Or perhaps you’re interested in spider curl vs preacher curl?

Hope this helped!