If you’ve ever had to stop your arm workout and tell your lifting partner that “preacher curls hurt my forearms,” you’re probably searching for a solution.
The forearms muscles are made up of the superficial, intermediate, and deep compartments. The superficial compartment is what is mainly utilized in the preacher curl.
It contains the flexor carpi ulnaris, palmaris longus, flexor carpi radialis, and pronator teres. You don’t need to know this but what is important is their functions to help understand their role in the preacher curl.
They are responsible for flexion and adduction of the wrist and pronation of the wrist. So, if you are twisting your wrist you will be engaging your forearms muscles a lot more.
The goal is to keep the wrists stationary, this way you will only activate the bicep muscles.
Why Do Preacher Curls Hurt My Forearms?
Most likely your form is slightly off. Try to keep your hands straight throughout the movement by not curling from your wrists. Lighten the weight so that your biceps are doing all the work. Proper warm up and stretching is also a key factor. Switching the bar or machine you are using can also reduce forearm pain.
1. Your Need To Implement Proper Preacher Curl Form
Incorrect form is the main reason for injury in the gym. Sit at the preacher curl machine and adjust the height so that your armpits are touching the top of the pad.
With an underhand grip, grasp the handles and rest your elbows on the pad. Your elbows should be about shoulder width apart and your hands just slightly inside that. The same is true for holding an EZ Bar.
While keeping your elbows pressed against the pad, curl your hands up towards your head while contracting your biceps. Hold for a second at the top before returning to the starting position.
If you are curling using your hand or wrist, this may cause forearm pain. Try to curl from your elbow and bicep. You should only feel the movement in your biceps, not your forearms.
Your forearms shouldn’t be flexed during the movement, but rather neutral or slightly extended.
Make sure not to squeeze the bar hard, as this will engage the forearms a lot more.
2. You’re Using Too Much Weight
You don’t need to use a high amount of weight on preacher curls to train the biceps. If the weight is too high, you may be using momentum and your front delts to swing the weight up.
This can cause your forearms to take over the movement.
If you have any underlying forearm injury, and still wish to train, light weight is the best way to go. Do high reps and focus on form and contractions.
This will prevent pain and allow you to keep doing preacher curls.
Luckily the biceps aren’t a huge muscle group and will actually grow more by using less weight and proper contractions.
Using weight that is too heavy can lead to injury, which will put you out of the gym. This results in no gains being made at all.
Heavy weight will also cause you to curl your wrists in order to force the weight up, further placing stress on the forearms.
3. You Aren’t Warming Up Properly
Warming up is the best way to prevent easily preventable injuries. Unfortunately, many people don’t warm up properly, or at all.
10 minutes of warming up before exercise doesn’t take long and will prevent you from injuring yourself and potentially setting yourself back weeks in the gym.
Stretching before a workout will increase flexibility, range of motion, and prevent tight muscles.
For biceps, try placing your hand with your palm down against a flat wall. Press the entire inside of your arm and shoulder against it while turning your chest away from the wall. Hold for about 20 seconds and then switch arms.
A rowing machine is good to get your arms prepared for a lifting session. Low to medium resistance for 5 to 10 minutes is all that’s required.
The standing bicep stretch is a super easy one that can be done anywhere. Star with your hands behind your lower back and then interlace your fingers. Straighten your arms and lift them as high as you can without your hands separating.
4. Try A Different Preacher Curl Variation
A straight barbell may provide less forearm pain than an EZ Bar, for example. This is because the straight bar makes it easier to keep your wrists straight.
If an EZ Bar is making you curl your wrists, then this can be the cause of your forearm pain.
A machine preacher curl may also help prevent pain. Since then bars are stationary, it makes it harder for your forearms to curl the weight up. As long as your elbows are planted firmly and the weight isn’t too heavy, you should only feel the movement in your bicep peaks.
Using a single dumbbell on a preacher bench machine may also be a great way to prevent forearm pain. Since you are only focusing on one arm at a time, it’s easier to focus on strict form.
You will also get the added benefit of addressing any strength imbalances in your arms. You will be forcing each arm to do their own part whereas in a 2 arm curl, the stronger arm can take over the movement.
With so many preacher curl variations, choose the one that you feel in your biceps the most and in your forearms the least.
5. You Have Forearm Splints Or Other Injury
Similar to shin splints, we can also get forearm splints. When the joints, tendons, or other connective tissues get strained from overuse they occur.
Forearm pain, tenderness, tightness, redness, or swelling are all symptoms. It’s always best to check with a doctor to get to the root of your pain, as you could also have tendinitis, a stress fracture, or a muscle tear.
If you have injured your forearms, there are a few ways to help them recover quicker.
A massage is a great way to reduce the tightness and tension that causes pain.
Stretching is another great way to reduce tightness and also prevent injury, increase range of motion, and decrease pain.
Try using a trigger point ball. They’re a cheap option that can break down tension, tightness and restriction in our muscles. It is rolled along the forearm muscles and is easy to use. They are also very cheap. Try out a cheap one from Amazon here.
Apply ice gently to the forearm for 10 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and inflammation. A compression sleeve or wrap may also help relieve pain symptoms.
Try elevating your forearm to further help reduce swelling.
Most importantly, rest and take a break from training. Attempting to train your biceps will only further aggravate your injury.
Train your forearms more. The stronger your forearms are, the less stress will be placed on them during bicep exercises.
Try the seated dumbbell wrist flexion. Sit with your forearm resting on your leg, with your hand and wrists hanging off the edge of your knee.
Without lifting your arm off your leg, curl your palm up towards your bicep. Slow and controlled reps with LIGHT weight.
Reverse curls are also great forearm builders. Grasp an EZ Bar with an overhand grip and squeeze the top of your forearms as you bring the bar straight up. Keep your elbows tucked to your sides.
Forearms do not require heavy weight to grow. Otherwise, you will injure yourself.