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Spider Curls vs Preacher Curls (For Building Huge Biceps)

If you’re looking for a spider curls vs preacher curls comparison guide, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we look at the differences of spider curls and preacher curls, which one is best for biceps, which one is best for forearms, and more.

What’s The Difference Between Preacher Curls And Spider Curls?

Both preacher curls and spider curls use a bench to support parts of your body. This is to put your working arm muscles under greater stress.

During preacher curls, the backs of your upper arms are supported while during spider curls, the front of your upper body is supported by an incline bench. 

Your body position is very different for both of these exercises.

Preacher curls are performed sat down on a preacher bench whereas spider curls are performed with you almost laying on your front on an incline bench.

Spider Curls vs Preacher Curls: For Building Biceps

Pretty much exactly the same muscles are worked in both preacher curls and spider curls.

The main point to consider when deciding which one is better for building biceps is the point in the exercises where your biceps are placed under the most stress.

Spider curls are most challenging at the highest point of the exercise (concentric) but preacher curls are hardest at the lowest point (eccentric).

It’s widely believed that the eccentric phase of an exercise (the lowering movement) is the most effective for building bigger muscles (hypertrophy) as it is this part that causes more damage to your muscles and needs more muscle fibers to perform.

With that in mind, it could be argued that preacher curls are better at building biceps because they challenge your muscles more during the most effective part of the exercises when it comes to increasing muscle size.

Spider Curls vs Preacher Curls: For Building Forearms

Spider curls and preacher curls work your forearms into play a little bit although neither will be enough to build forearms on their own.

The movement, grip, and equipment used in both exercises are all pretty much identical so your forearms are activated equally during each exercise.

Difficulty Level

Preacher Curls

When it comes to the movement needed to perform preacher curls, your body is very well equipped and can usually do it fairly comfortably.

Flexion of the elbow generates the movement of preacher curls and this is something that most of us can do with ease.

Preacher curls can be a bit uncomfortable to begin with so you do need to make sure you use an appropriate weight.

If you get the weight right though, preacher curls have a low difficulty level.

Spider Curls

Spider curls put your biceps in a weak position throughout the movement. So they’re actually quite a challenging exercise.

Your biceps are a reasonably small muscle group compared to others in your body. So getting them to lift anything in isolation is challenging.

Putting them in a weak position and then adding the stress of moving a weight too – spider curls are by no means easy.

The Verdict

Although preacher curls and spider curls are similar in terms of movement, spider curls are harder as they force your biceps to work in a weaker position.

Your body position in spider curls can make them a bit more uncomfortable than preacher curls too.

Ease of Access

Preacher Curls

To add preacher curls to your workouts, all you need is a preacher bench and weights (dumbbells or a barbell).

These are commonly found in gyms giving preacher curls a good ease of access.

Spider Curls

To perform spider curls, you need weights (dumbbells or a barbell) and an incline bench.

In most gyms, incline benches will be easy to get hold of as will dumbbells or a barbell.

As all of the equipment you need for spider curls is standard gym gear, spider curls are a very accessible exercise.

The Verdict

Preacher curls and spider curls both have good levels of accessibility.

The only reason why spider curls have a slightly better ease of access is that they require an incline bench instead of a preacher bench.

Incline benches are usually more common in gyms than preacher benches.

While lots of gyms have preacher benches, they usually tend to have more incline benches.


Preacher Curls

You can do preacher curls with dumbbells, a barbell, or even an EZ bar.

If you choose to use dumbbells, you could do preacher hammer curls, preacher zottman curls, as well as standard preacher bicep curls.

As you have so many options, preacher curls have great levels of variability.

Spider Curls

Spider curls can be performed using dumbbells, a barbell, or an EZ bar.

This gives you a lot of options to challenge your muscles in different ways simply by varying the way you perform spider curls.

The Verdict

Both preacher curls and spider curls offer great levels of variability.

Being able to use different equipment to perform the same exercise can make it easier to find the equipment you need in busy gyms, as well as providing different challenges for your working muscles.

As the same equipment is needed for the standard versions of preacher curls and spider curls, both have very similar numbers of variations.

Should You Do Both Spider Curls And Preacher Curls?

It’s a great idea to do both exercises because they prioritize opposing parts of the lifting motion. Preacher curls focus on the eccentric part of the movement giving your biceps a better stretch. Whereas spider curls give your a better pump because they focus on the contracted part of the movement.

By doing both exercises, you’ll naturally recruit a wider range of muscle fibers.

You can also click to learn the difference between concentration curls and preacher curls and see which one is best for building big biceps.

Which Exercise Should You Do First?

You could argue that you should do preacher curls before spider curls since preacher curls allow you to lift more weight.

Whereas you could argue that you should perform spider curls first since spider curls stimulate the biceps more where they’re at their weakest.

I personally recommend starting with preacher curls so that you can overload your biceps with maximum tension.

Spider Curls vs Preacher Curls: Which Is Better?

Preacher curls and spider curls use pretty much the same equipment, have similar ease of access and variability, and provide a great workout for your arms.

If you’re looking to build your biceps, then spider curls could be more beneficial for you as they put greater stress on the muscle during the lowering phase of the movement.

As this is considered to be the most effective part of an exercise for hypertrophy, spider curls can help build big biceps.

If you’re more focussed on strength, then preacher curls could be a better choice.

Preacher curls allow you to lift more than spider curls which gives you the opportunity to effectively overload your muscles more to help encourage gains in strength.

Preacher curls and spider curls are both great exercises, so depending on your goals, both make great additions to your training program.

That’s all for this article, but do preacher curls work short head? Or can you get a bicep tear from preacher curls?

Hope this helped!


Preacher Curls Muscles Worked

Spider Curls Muscles Worked