Aditya Sahu ‧ CPT & Head Coach
Aditya is an ACSM certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist with more than 7 years training various people and transforming people's lives. He has written various publications for various sports and fitness magazines.
Growing huge biceps is every gym-goer’s dream! For that, it is essential to do all the target exercises correctly. There are many exercises that specifically target the biceps and its muscles.
However, understanding which exercises target which muscle and how is crucial. Otherwise, getting your desired results will take longer than usual.
In this article, our primary goal is to introduce you to some of the best long-head bicep exercises to help you grow the biceps you always wanted.
In addition, we will be explaining briefly the biceps muscles and how they work.
Hence, to learn all about targeting the long head and the most effective long head bicep exercises, keep reading till the end!
Understanding The Bicep Muscles
To work on your biceps in the most effective way, you must first understand the functions of the bicep muscles.
Here’s a brief explanation of all the three muscles essential for the growth of the biceps.
The Biceps Brachii
The biceps brachii is a muscle on the upper arm’s anterior side. It is further divided into two muscles, the long and short heads. Both of these heads together make the whole biceps brachii.
The long and short heads of the muscles converge on the same part but have different starting points. They work together for the elbow flexion and the forearm movements.
When you target the long head, it gives the biceps its peak. In contrast, the short head contributes to the width of the bicep.
There are almost four primary functions of the biceps brachii. They are,
- Elbow flexion and bending the forearm
- Movement of the shoulders to raise the upper arm
- Movement of the upper arms
- Keeping the shoulder joint stabilized while moving the arms
The Long Head Of The Bicep
The long head of the bicep is located on the outer part of the upper arms. It is an essential muscle for providing the biceps with strength and their peak.
Working on the long head muscle will give you that big biceps look professional bodybuilders have.
The long head of the bicep brachii is hard to differentiate, but once the arm is flexed, it can be felt and seen on the bicep. Its most effective function is giving the bicep its length and peak.
That is why it is crucial to target the long head. Otherwise, you will not see any progress.
The Short Head Of The Bicep
The short head of the bicep is located on the upper arm’s inner side. It is much broader than the long head and is connected with it at the end.
The short head is most effective in giving that wider bicep look. After working on the short head, your bicep will look thick and wide once it is flexed.
Although it is tough to isolate the short head of the muscle, some exercises primarily target this head. In this article, our main focus will be on exercises targeting the long head.
Best Long Head Biceps Exercises
If you have achieved that broad look of your biceps but can not achieve the bigger bicep peaks, it's time to work on the long head muscles.
Although, all the biceps exercises isolate every bicep muscle. Still, some exercises help activate the short or the long head more. Most of the exercises that target the long head are dumbbell exercises.
Here are the most effective long head biceps exercises to work on the long head of the biceps. These biceps exercises use minimum body weight to target the muscle group. You will get to know their functions, instructions, and training tips.
1. Incline Dumbbell Curls
You can efficiently target your long head bicep muscles with the incline dumbbell curl. This exercise requires your arms to be in a straight position down the sides. Hence your long heads will be stretched throughout.
- Position the bench at an angle of 45 to 60 degrees.
- Sit on the bench with your back completely resting.
- Hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip from each hand, and then position your hands straight downwards.
- Keep your elbow joint fixed in one place, and then bring the dumbbells up slowly. Your upper arm should be completely perpendicular to the floor.
- After reaching the peak of the curl, return to the original position gradually.
- Further, correct your form by watching this video.
2. Close Grip Barbell Curls
The close-grip barbell curl is one of the best long head biceps exercises to train your biceps. However, you can also target the long heads by doing the bicep curls exercise with a closed grip. This is because there will be shoulder rotations involved then in this exercise.
Another great thing about the close grip barbell curls is that it gives excellent results with heavy weights and a low number of reps.
Still, we recommend starting with lighter weights and more reps, then gradually increasing the weights as you go.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and back completely straight.
- Then hold the barbell with a closed hand grip and slowly curl the barbell up. Do not move your elbows at all while doing this.
- Once you reach the top, slowly lift your elbows a little for extra tension and squeeze the long head bicep muscle.
- Bring the barbell back to its original piston and repeat this movement.
- Verify whether you are doing this exercise correctly or not from here.
3. Close Grip Preacher Curl
A preacher bench is a great machine for bicep training. If your gym has one, then definitely do this exercise.
Preacher curls are excellent in activating the long head muscles and stretching them to the maximum.
A preacher bench also does not let you cheat your way out. It is very restricting and effective because it keeps your elbows fixed in one place. This bicep exercise uses an EZ bar for effective bicep curls.
- Sit straight on the preacher bench.
- Rest your upper arm on the pad of the preacher bench. This way, your forearms will be free to move while the elbows are fixed in one place.
- Hold the EZ bar with a closed hand grip, and with your arms fully extended, start curling the weights till your arms are completely straight and perpendicular to the floor.
- Squeeze your bicep muscles at this point.
- Now, gradually return to the starting position after completely stretching your biceps.
- Repeat this movement to complete the rep.
- Learn more about this exercise from this informative video.
4. Drag Curl
A drag curl allows the perfect isolation of the bicep muscles without the rear delts interfering. Long heads are targeted mainly by the positions of the elbows.
Keeping them fixed in one place will allow long heads to stretch, thus activating and isolating them completely.
This exercise is best for contracting the bicep muscles as well. We highly recommend that you include this exercise in your bicep workout routine.
This exercise can be performed with a dumbbell, EZ bar, or a barbell.
- Hold the dumbbells with a closed underhand grip.
- Position your hands such that the dumbbells are in line with your shoulders by keeping them shoulder-width apart.
- Now gradually move the dumbbell up slowly in a straight range of motion by moving your elbows back. It is essential to keep in mind that the higher you move your elbows, the more effective this exercise will be. Do not forget to keep your shoulders completely back and down throughout the exercise.
- After reaching the entire peak, hold the position and squeeze the biceps.
- Gradually return to the starting position and repeat for more reps.
- Correct your formation and learn some training tips from here.
5. Bayesian Curl
This long bicep head exercise is pretty similar to the inclined dumbbell curls. With this exercise, you target your long head muscles by keeping your elbows behind you while doing the dumbbell curls.
This isolates and effectively works on the long head muscle.
For this exercise, a cable machine is required. This machine provides constant tension, unlike dumbbells which are affected by gravity.
- Start by positioning the cable to the lowest point on the cable machine.
- Stand with your back facing the machine.
- Hold the handle with an underhand grip so that your hand is extended behind you.
- Do a curl without moving your elbows.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
- Watch this video to check your formation.
6. Dumbbell Hammer Curls
The Dumbbell hammer curls are popular among powerlifters and professional bodybuilders to build those big biceps. But it is also a great exercise to work on those important long head bicep muscles.
This is because the hammer curls also use a narrow neutral grip, which is perfect for targeting the long heads.
You can do the hammer curl in two positions: sitting or standing. The sitting one is more restricting and effective.
While in comparison, doing hammer curls in a standing position is a relatively easier option, suitable for beginners.
It is also not compulsory to do the hammer curls for both biceps. You can do it alternatively if that's more comfortable for you.
- Start by sitting with the correct posture, with your back straight and rested against a wall or a backrest.
- Now take the dumbbells and hold them so that the arms are entirely parallel to the body.
- With your palms facing inwards, curl the dumbbells up while keeping the elbows fixed in one place. It is important that your elbows don't move while curling.
- After you feel that the muscles are tensing up, go back to the original position gradually.
- Repeat this movement with the other hand as well.
- Follow this video to learn more about this exercise.
Another option is this exercise, which also explicitly targets the long head muscles.
Although it is pretty similar to some other pull-up exercises, some differences separate it from the others.
By doing chin-ups, you are entirely isolating your long head muscles by a large motion range. As this exercise requires a very narrow grip, you are also effectively working on the long head.
This exercise is one of the most effective bicep exercises. You will achieve those huge dreamy biceps by gradually increasing the weights and number of reps!
- Hold the pull-up bar with a narrow grip, such that your hands are only a few inches apart.
- Slowly allow your body to hang from the bar completely.
- Now back your shoulders and squeeze the shoulder blades. This step is crucial for proper tensioning of the muscles.
- Start targeting your long head muscles by pulling yourself up till your chest is close to the bar.
- After this position, squeeze your biceps and return to the original position.
- Repeat this exercise till the desired number of reps.
- From this video, you can check if you are doing the chin-ups right or not.
8. Neutral Grip Pull Ups
Neutral grip pull ups effectively target a lot of muscle groups but most importantly they are best for working upon your long head muscles.
The neutral grip provides the bicep muscles with more stress and capacity to gain maximum muscle mass and strength.
For this exercise, the only equipment needed is a pull-up bar.
- Jump and hold the pull-up bar using a neutral grip, which means that your palms should be facing each other.
- Allow your body to hang from the pull-up bar and slowly perform the pull ups, at least till the bar is at your shoulder level. At this point, squeeze your shoulders and bicep muscles.
- Return to the starting position and complete the reps.
- You can watch this video to learn more.
9. Zottman Curls
The Zottman curl is one of the best exercises to target almost all of the biceps muscles, especially the biceps brachii and the long heads.
You just need a pair of dumbbells to perform this exercise wherever you want, using both of your arms simultaneously or alternatively. As you perform the curls, it strengthens and builds your biceps by isolating the whole muscle group.
- Stand completely straight with your feet hip-width apart.
- Grab two dumbbells and hold them in your hands with your palms facing each other.
- Gradually pull the dumbbells upwards and stop when the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Now rotate your palms, such that you are now holding the dumbbells with pronated grips.
- Slowly return to the starting position and make sure that your palms are facing each other again at this point.
- Watch this video to correct any formation mistakes.
10. EZ Bar Reverse Curl
Another really easy exercise to target the long heads of your biceps are the EZ bar reverse curls. They are excellent at isolating and targeting the long heads and the biceps brachii.
This exercise is different from others because the EZ bar is held with an overhand grip instead of a supinated grip. This directly puts more force on the biceps, making them reach their full potential.
You can perform this exercise easily at home because it just requires an EZ bar.
- Start by standing with your feet at least shoulder-width apart and holding the EZ bar with both of yours using an overhand grip.
- Now, slowly pull the EZ bar upwards until the forearms form an angle of 90 degrees or less with the biceps.
- Pause at this point and squeeze the biceps. Now return to the starting position and complete the reps.
- Here’s an instructional video on the EZ bar hammer curls.
11. Resistance Band Hammer Curls
The resistance band hammer curls specifically target the biceps making them stronger and huge by gaining muscle mass. They are easy to perform and are very similar to the hammer curls.
The resistance band hammer curls provide your muscles with additional tension that helps them a lot in gaining that extra muscle mass and reaching their maximum potential.
- Grab a resistance band with both of your hands and hold it under your feet such that a U shape is formed.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and make sure that the faces of your palms are towards each other.
- Now, perform the hammer curls by bending your elbows and curling the resistance band towards your shoulder with an inward grip. Before lowering your arms, do not forget to pause and squeeze your biceps.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
- Watch this video to get more information about the formation.
Common Biceps Training Mistakes
Most people keep on making the same mistakes while training their biceps. These mistakes, if made frequently, can completely stop or delay the growth of the biceps.
To form the best well-formed and peaked biceps, you must properly do all the exercises for biceps training.
Here we are pointing out the three most common mistakes related to biceps training, so make sure to avoid making them!
People love to show off their weightlifting skills at the gym, which results in grabbing the heaviest weights.
Most people doing biceps training believe that heavy weights will help build the biceps peak and the width.
However, most of the time, this causes muscle strains and excessive muscle stress instead of gains.
Proper formation and correct range are much more important than the amount of weight being lifted.
Doing more reps with lighter weights is much more effective for your muscles than fewer reps with heavy weights.
Hence, avoid this mistake if you want to rightly isolate and grow your muscles without straining or injuring them.
Less Focus On Tension
To build massive arms and huge biceps, it is essential to target the muscles effectively. For this, applying proper tension to your muscles is crucial.
While training the biceps, the most crucial step is lowering the weights. This is the point when your muscles are strained.
You can learn how to apply enough tension to your muscles by understanding how the exercises work. This will tell you the point where you need to put your focus.
Hence, you can use tension to isolate your muscles properly instead of putting on too much weight or exercising a lot.
This will result in the achievement of your fitness goals in a lesser time.
Lack of variation is one of the biggest training mistakes. When a person performs the same exercises without any changes, it causes hypertrophy, inducing muscle damage. This means that the body and the muscles are now used to the strains and the tension being applied.
If you are comfortable with performing those exercises, then make sure to vary your grips. This will help tension your muscles differently each time.
We are not asking you to change your workout routine a lot. Instead, switch your workout routine once in a while to keep your body and muscles working.
Cheating Your Way Out
Here, cheating means easing your way out of a point of tension in an exercise by adding a movement. In biceps workouts, there are many points where arms feel too exhausted and strained.
Hence, most people add a swinging motion or a strong pull to get it over with.
Using motion or momentum where they are not needed will prevent your muscles from growing and building muscle mass.
You can correct this mistake by allowing other body parts to relax so that your total energy and strength are applied.
For example, you can relax your back by standing closer to a wall to keep your shoulders from getting fatigued.
Common Bicep Injuries
The bicep muscles are one of the most used muscles of our bodies. Our arms, elbows, and shoulders depend on these bicep muscles for their turns and movements. In addition, they are strained further in the gym during intense bicep exercises.
Hence, due to constant activities, there is a high chance that they can get badly injured, torn, or strained.
Below, we have discussed four common bicep injuries. If you notice any symptoms, we recommend treating them immediately.
Strained biceps occur when people exercise too much at once or lift some heavy weight, tearing their muscle fibers.
This injury causes acute pain and swelling in your biceps.
Partially Torn Tendons
Partially torn tendons are caused when the proximal tendon gets slightly torn from its connection points, which are usually the shoulders or the elbows.
This usually happens after repetitive tensioning on an already strained muscle.
You will start to feel pain and swelling in your upper arm.
Completely Torn Tendons
This injury is caused when the bicep muscles are strained so much that their tendons get completely torn and disconnected from their connection points.
When this injury occurs, you will notice a slight sound followed by sudden sharp pain and weak arm movements.
This is also referred to as abnormal bulging. This happens when the muscle behaves elastic and returns to its original position from its incision point.
You will notice an unusual bulge in your bicep.
In conclusion, work on your short and long head bicep muscles to get the desired peak and the perfect width. Make sure to exercise correctly to save yourself from any painful bicep injuries.
When performed correctly, long head exercises will explicitly isolate your long head muscle and give you well-formed and big biceps as a result!
Training your long head muscle will also make your biceps stronger and less vulnerable to injuries and excessive strains. There are many people who exercise extensively but never seem to get the shape they desire.
Not targeting the specific muscles, i.e., short and long heads, is the reason why.
Also, eat healthy and good food to remain energetic and strong throughout your workout sessions.
Remember to always be safe and healthy on your fitness journey. Good luck!