Spider Curl

Spider Curl

These backward preacher curls may garner some suspicious stares from those not in the know, as they look quite odd.

Building bigger, stronger biceps lies high on the list of weight training priorities for gym-goers. While accumulating muscle strength typically requires heavy curls, it truly takes a good variety of arm movements to really get that chiseled definition. If you are looking to successfully and holistically build up your upper body, you should take the spider curl into consideration.

The spider curl is one of the most effective isolation strength training exercises for triggering and stimulating the biceps. It can help build lean muscle strength and introduce a creative new way to work out your arms.

Bicep Anatomy

The biceps brachii is a two-headed muscle between the shoulder and elbow, featuring:

  1. The Bicep Short Head: This muscle head is best targeted when your arms come in front of your body. This occurs in exercises like concentration curls, preacher curls, and spider curls. 
  2. The Bicep Long Head: When your arms are down at your sides, you are working the long heads. This occurs in barbell curls and dumbbell hammer curls, to name a few. 

As the spider curl targets the short head, it is considered a detailing move that works well as a finishing cool-down exercise. Although it targets the shorter portion of your bicep, it is critical to helping balance the larger muscle as a whole. 


While there are no specifics to be found on the invention of the spider curl, it was likely formed by a weight-training innovator while fooling around one day with the preacher bench. 

So, instead, lets trace where the preacher curl comes from, as it very clearly seems like a variation of this.

We see the dawn of the preacher curl traveling back to the 1960s as the Mr. Olympia competition was just gaining mainstream popularity, 

Known as the ‘Iron Guru’ among the weight training community, Vince Gironda arrived on the scene just as steroids began ballooning in popularity in the powerlifting community. This was before we completely understood the harmful effects of steroids, and they were considered relatively benign.

Gironda was known for being an innovator, both in experimental weightlifting procedures and experimental performance-enhancing drugs. He began searching for a better way to isolate the brachialis, or bicep peaks, and the best way he found was through the unique incline of the preacher curl.  

It is entirely possible that Gironda created the spider curl during this highly experimental phase of his life, but unfortunately, that information is not currently available. 

How to Perform Spider Curls

This exercise is typically performed on a preacher bench. 

Step 1: Set the bar on the set of the preacher bench, making sure it is balanced so it stays put.

Step 2: Moving to the front of the preacher bench where your arms typically go, lay down at a 45-degree angle and press your stomach against the front of the bench. Position your feet on the floor and your arms on the inside of the preacher bench. 

Step 3: Using a supinated grip (palms facing you), grasp the barbell at shoulder-width and slowly raise it up as you exhale. 

Step 4: Hold the contraction for 2 counts, squeezing the biceps. 

Step 5: Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position in a controlled motion as you inhale. 

Step 6: Repeat until the desired number of reps has been achieved. 


  • Increases range of motion in the arms
  • Builds muscle mass
  • Increases arm strength
  • Increases muscle symmetry


  • Dumbbell Spider Curls
  • Cable Curls
  • Concentration curls
  • Preacher curls
  • Barbell curls
  • Hammer curls

Don’t Fall off Your Spider Web!

Due to the unnatural and awkward positioning of the spider curl, it can be easy to lose your footing and fall off balance. 

In order to prevent possible injury and probable embarrassment, forcefully drive your feet into the ground to ensure you do not tilt off-kilter and tumble off the preacher bench.

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