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Few body parts draw attention quite like a strong set of biceps. 

If you don’t have well-sculpted biceps, you want them. And if you do have them, you want more of them. 

But what does it actually take to build a great set of arms? This was one of the most-asked questions I have had in my time as a personal trainer.

A great set of arms can give us a feeling of confidence, with the bonus of improved function and strength.   

Now, let’s unpack what it takes to build a solid set of arms with my top long head bicep exercises for a massive peak.

Let’s Break Down Bicep Anatomy

Long Head Bicep Exercises

Here, I will break down the anatomy of the biceps. This will help you understand their function and help you to target them more effectively.

Located at the front of our arms, the biceps is made up of two heads.

Anatomy

  • Biceps Brachii Long Head (Outer side)
  • Biceps Brachii Short Head (Inner side)

Biceps Brachii Long Head

  • Originates from the anterior-lateral scapula (front and outer side of the shoulder blade)
  • Inserts into the radius (lower arm bone)
  • Flexes elbow, supinates, abduction  

Biceps Brachii Short Head

  • Coracoid process (front of the shoulder blade)
  • Inserts into the radius (lower arm bone)
  • Flexes elbow, supinates, abduction  

Based on the biceps origin and insertion points, you’ll get a better understanding of the biceps’ function and how to train them.

As you can see, both heads of the biceps originate from above the upper arm at the front of the shoulder blade. It inserts into our lower arms bone, the radius.

Based on the anatomical layout of the biceps, we can target each head with a variety of exercises by changing the position of our arms, targeting each head differently.

Benefits of Training the Long Head Bicep

Related: Dumbbell Back Exercises

Build Large Peak

Training the long head of the biceps is a fantastic way to increase the overall size. In particular, growing the peak.

The long head of the biceps is positioned on the outer side of our arm. 

For reference, go ahead and flex your elbow. Then, run your fingers from the middle of the bicep to the left and right sides. 

You will be able distinctly to feel both short (inside) and long (outer side) heads.

Notice that the long head, while on the outside, also feels like it is slightly elevated compared to the inside (short head). 

This is the peak.

By specifically training to stimulate these fibres, we can increase the overall size of the muscle and the look. This makes for a more aesthetically pleasing set of arms. 

Build Biceps Width

Training biceps is a great way to increase the size of the upper arm, with both heads of the biceps playing an important role in the size and width.

The short head of the biceps is typically seen to be responsible for the overall width of the bicep.

However, by building both the long and short heads, we can really fill out the arms.

Improve Arm Definition

Building the long head of the biceps improves overall definition. Given its positioning, the long head sits alongside many other muscles on the upper arm including the triceps and deltoid.

By training the long head directly we can aim to improve muscle separation between the two heads (short head), as well as the other muscles of the upper arm.

Improves Bicep Strength

Training the muscles of the body is a great way to increase strength, and the long head of the bicep is no different.

We also strengthen another muscular link within the body, thus improving other exercises in the gym such as rows and pulls, as well as daily activities that require pulling or lifting motions.

Long Head Bicep

Improves Performance

Improved performance is another of the many benefits of training the long head of the biceps. 

By training the muscles of the body and their specific parts (long head), we can reach our full potential.

Biceps are responsible for so many movements both in and out of the gym, and having all heads firing can help to improve overall performance.  

From movements in the gym like deadlifts and Olympic lifting to sporting rowing or pulling down a rebound in basketball, the biceps play a vital role in our performance.

Follow These Simple Long Head Bicep exercises Tips to Maximize Growth 

Related: Why Are My Arms So Skinny?

Repetitions 

Training for muscle growth requires a repetition range of 6-12. 

By working within this range, we aim to promote muscle hypertrophy. Muscle hypertrophy is the key to muscle growth. 

Volume  

Training volume varies depending on your experience level. 

  • Beginners: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Intermediate: 3-4 sets of 6-12 repetitions
  • Advanced: 4+ sets of 6-12 repetitions 

For beginners, moderate weight with a great number of repetitions is seen to be ideal for those starting out. 

Whereas heavier weight, lower rep ranges, and more sets are more suitable for intermediate and advanced lifters to accommodate for great levels of resistance.  

Tempo

Research indicates that greater time under tension can result in improvements in muscle growth. 

Focusing on a 2-4 second count through each repetition, with a 1-2 second lower phase and 1-2 second lifting phase is seen to be the most effective.

While this is ideal, it’s understandable that these targets are not always favourable in your typical gym session.

Rest Period 

Rest periods of 30-45 seconds have been noted as the most effective for muscular growth. 

Working within these rest times allows your body to recover its energy source between sets. This challenges and fatigue the muscle, leading to great muscular growth. 

11 Top Long Head Bicep Exercises 

Related: Dumbbell Tricep Exercises

1. Supinated Dumbbell Curls

Target Muscles

  • Biceps (long and short head) 

Benefits

  • Builds long head of biceps
  • Improves definition

How To Perform Supinated Dumbbell Curls

  • Begin in the standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. Arms relaxed at the sides, palm facing forward (supinated).
  • With elbows tucked to your sides, curl the dumbbell up toward the shoulder.
  • As you curl, focus on continuing to rotate the wrists outwards (supinating).
  • Once you have completed the contraction, gradually lower the dumbbell to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • Start with a lighter weight and focus on outward rotation of the wrist at the top of the curl. This will help to increase long head contraction.
  • Aim to keep the elbow tucked to the side of your body. This will help to isolate the biceps
  • Avoid swinging or generating momentum when performing the movement.

2. Barbell Drag Curl

Target Muscles 

  • Biceps (Long and short head)
  • Rear Deltoid (shoulders)

Benefits

  • Builds long head biceps
  • Takes long head through a great stretch
  • Great exercises to finish when biceps are fatigued

How To Perform Drag Curls

  • Start in the standing position, holding a barbell in the reverse grip, arms relaxed at the waist.
  • With elbows tucked to the side and in extension, drag the barbell back, lifting the weight up towards your shoulder
  • Once you have completed the curl, gradually lower the barbell to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • For beginners, start with a lighter weight as the movement and positioning are slight variations of a curl and row.
  • Concentrate on actively contracting the biceps.
  • Focus on breathing and bracing your core. Breathing in as you lower the resistance, and out with effort. 

3. Reverse Grip Chin-Ups

Target Muscles

  • Biceps (Long and short head)
  • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
  • Rear Deltoid (Shoulders)
  • Core

Benefits

  • Great for building strength
  • Great for mass and width 
  • Full Body Exercises

How To Perform Reverse Grip Chin-Ups

  • Using a chin-up bar, begin by grasping the bar in a narrow and reverse (supinated) grip. 
  • Lift yourself up toward the bar, until your chin or collarbone meets the bar.
  • From here, gradually lower yourself down to the starting position. Repeat.  

Pro Tips

  • For beginners, you can start the movement from the top by using a step or a bench. This will allow you to begin the movement from the strongest position.
  • Beginners may also use assisted chin-up machines. 
  • To maximise contraction, pause for a second at the top of the chin-up, and gradually lower the body down. This will increase tension on the biceps and promote growth.

4. Incline Dumbbell Curl

Target Muscles

  • Long head of biceps (focus)
  • Short head biceps

Benefits

  • Great for long head of biceps
  • Puts long head of the biceps on full stretch

How To Perform Incline Dumbbell Curl

  • Starting by lying on your back on an incline bench.
  • Have your dumbbell in each hand, arms relaxed and hanging down with palms facing forward (supinated).
  • With elbows tucked to the side, curl dumbbells up toward the shoulder.
  • Once you reach the top, gradually lower the dumbbells to the starting position. Repeat. 

Pro Tips

  • If you are new to the movement, start with a lighter weight as the position can be uncomfortable.
  • Focus on technique and contracting the muscle, and gradually lower with every repetition. 

5. Bayesian Cable Curls

Target Muscles

  • Biceps long head (Focus)
  • Biceps short head
  • Core

Benefits

  • Targets biceps long head
  • Puts biceps long head on stretch 

How To Perform Cable Curls

  • Using a cable machine, start in the standing position.
  • Grab cable grip in each hand in the reverse grip, arms relaxed and extended behind the body.
  • To begin, have your elbows tucked to the side and curl the cables up toward your shoulders.
  • Once your curls are complete, gradually lower to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • Similar to incline dumbbell curls, starting with a lighter weight is important as positioning can be uncomfortable at first.
  • In the standing position, try standing in a split stance. This will allow you to brace and stabilize the body while you perform your repetitions.

6. Cross-Body Dumbbell Curl

Target Muscles

  • Biceps long head
  • Biceps short head

Benefits

  • Great for mass and definition
  • Can really focus on biceps contraction

How To Perform Cross Body Dumbbell Curl

  • Begin in the standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. Arms relaxed at the side, palm facing forward (supinated).
  • With elbows tucked to your sides, curling one dumbbell at a time up toward the midline of the body.
  • As you curl, focus on continuing to rotate the wrists outwards (supinating).
  • Once you have completed the contraction, gradually lower the dumbbell to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • For your initial sets, use a lifter weight, focus on rotating your wrist outward and squeeze your long head of biceps.
  • Once you have completed your initial sets, you can load up the weight and really test your biceps.
  • Aim for controller curls, and avoid using momentum to perform the movement.

7. Barbell Narrow Grip Curl

Target Muscles

  • Biceps long head (focus)
  • Biceps short head

Benefits

  • Great for building a long head of biceps
  • Can load up weight for heavier bicep work

How To Perform Barbell Narrow Grip Curls

  • Begin in the standing position holding a barbell in the underhand position (supinated). 
  • Have arms relaxed, with the back of palms resting on the front of thighs. 
  • With elbows tucked to your side, curls the barbell up toward the shoulders, focusing on squeezing the bicep muscle.
  • Once you reach the top, gradually lower the barbell to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • If you’re new to the exercises, start with a lighter weight and focus on technique.
  • If you find using a barbell uncomfortable, you can use an EZ curl bar. The inner handles offer a medium neutral grip that is easier on the wrists.

8. Seated Concentration Curls

Target Muscles

  • Biceps long head (Focus)
  • Biceps short head 

Benefits

  • Great for developing the long head of biceps.
  • Working one head at a time allows you to concentrate on the quality of your repetitions.

How To Perform Seated Concentration Curls

  • Start by sitting at the edge of a bench with legs a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab one dumbbell, lean forward, and place the back of your tricep into the inside of the same side thigh.
  • To begin the movement, press the tricep into the inner thigh, and curl the dumbbell up toward your shoulder.
  • Once you reach the top, gradually lower the dumbbell to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • Start with a lighter weight and focus on technique. 
  • Before starting the exercise, be sure to set up positioning. This will allow you to focus more on your lift and performance

9. Preacher Curls

Target Muscles 

  • Biceps long head
  • Biceps short head

Benefits

  • Great for isolating the biceps
  • Great for loading up and building size

How To Do Preacher Curls

  • Using a preacher curl, take a seat and adjust the height so that elbows comfortably rest on the pad.
  • Stand up, and with both hands grab the barbell or EZ curl bar, and then take a seat with elbows bent resting against the pad.
  • To begin, gradually lower the barbell to the floor. Aim for 135 degrees bent at the elbow.
  • Once you have reached this position, curl the bar upward until it returns to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • Be sure to set your seat height for a comfortable range for both your elbows and seated position.
  • When performing preacher curls, do not go into full elbow extension. This will put too much pressure on the bicep tendon. 
  • Keep the elbow tucked toward the midline of the body; this will help isolate the biceps.

10. Dumbbell Spider Curls 

Target Muscles

  • Biceps long head
  • Biceps short head

Benefits

  • Great for building mass
  • Can load up weight 

How To Perform Dumbbell Spider Curls

  • Lie face down on the bench, legs straight with chest positioned off the top of the bench.
  • Pick up both dumbbells, holding them in a reverse grip with straight arms. Shoulder blades are slightly back and engaged.
  • To begin, curl dumbbells up toward the shoulder, focus on keeping elbows tucked into the side.
  • Once you reach the top, gradually lower the dumbbell down to starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • Before starting the exercise make sure that your position on the bench is correct and comfortable. This will allow you to focus on your lifts and lift greater weight.
  • Focus on curling the dumbbell, squeezing the biceps muscle, and gradually lowering the weight. This will help you get the most out of every repetition.

11. Cross Body Hammer Curls

Target Muscles

  • Biceps long head
  • Biceps short head
  • Brachialis

Benefits

  • Helps to build brachialis, the muscle beneath the biceps
  • Great for definition
  • Helps to create separation between the biceps, tricep, and deltoids

How To Perform Cross Body Hammer Curls

  • Begin in the standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. Arms relaxed at the side, palm facing inward (neutral).
  • With elbows tucked to your sides, curling one dumbbell at a time, up towards the midline of the body.
  • As you curl, focus on holding the dumbbell in the neutral position.
  • Once you have completed the contraction, gradually lower the dumbbell to the starting position. Repeat.

Pro Tips

  • Begin by using a lighter weight and focus rotation and squeezing the brachialis.
  • Once you have completed your first set, gradually increase the weight.

Bicep Peak Workout 

Related: 3 Day Workout Split

Beginner

ExerciseSetsRepetitionsRest Time
Reverse Grip Chin-Ups38-1245 – 60 secs
Supinated Concentration Curl38-1245 – 60 secs
Bayesian Cable Curl38-1260 secs
Barbell Narrow Grip Curl38-1045 secs
Cross Body Dumbbell Curl38-1245 secs

Advanced

ExerciseSetsRepetitionsRest Time
Reverse Grip Chin-Ups4845 – 60 secs
Incline Dumbbell Curl4845 – 60 secs
Supinated Cross Body Curls 4860 secs
Barbell Drag Curls 4845 secs
Pronated Cross Body Curls31245 secs

Avoid These Mistakes with Biceps Peak Exercises

Over my time working in gyms I have witnessed some poor lifting habits when it comes to training biceps. 

From the swinging ego-lifter who has gone too heavy too soon to the lifter who just can’t seem to nail their technique.

Here, I am going to share with you the most common mistakes I see when training biceps, and how to avoid them. 

Swinging Repetitions

Swinging when lifting is one of the most common mistakes in the gym. 

When it comes to training, we must focus on the contraction of the muscle, rather than just performing the movement.

Performing a swing during a lift often comes from our desire to complete the movement, regardless of how our muscles are working.

A great solution to this is to lower the weight for our remaining sets when we are fatigued and can no longer lift the weight we began with. 

This will allow us to perform the movement correctly and accurately contract the muscle. 

Curling the Wrist

This is one mistake I have seen in the gym a lot.

Typically, when people are getting close to the end of their working sets, they begin to tire and start recruiting from different muscles and joints to get the job done. 

Curling of the wrist is one of the most common I see, and it is when weight is too heavy or the body is tired and the person begins to curl the wrist to move the weight. 

While this may get the weight to move, it draws resistance and technique away from the target muscle. 

To remedy this, we can simply lower our weight and focus on accurately squeezing our muscles. This will allow us to continue to work our biceps and stop reinforcing those bad habits.

Not Squeezing Biceps

Long Head Bicep Workout
Squeezing The Bicep

Like many lifts in the gym, training biceps can quickly become an ego-driven pursuit. 

Often, when people lift for bicep gains, I see them do all the mistakes on this list just to push a little extra weight.

People become focused on the movement rather than the muscle, sacrificing contraction for the lift.

By focusing on squeezing the biceps during our sets, we can improve our mind-muscle connection, ensuring that we are getting the most out of each repetition.

While this may not do anything for the ego, the results will speak for themselves as you continue to effectively build a strong set of arms.

Not Keeping Elbows Locked

Not keeping elbows locked to the side when your training biceps can often go hand-in-hand with many other items on this list. 

When we choose to untuck our elbows, we reduce the chance of proper isolation, as we allow momentum and other muscles such as our shoulders to kick in and help move the weight.

A great way to combat this is to choose the appropriate weight that allows us to perform the exercises correctly throughout our entire set. 

Additionally, we can stand with our back against the wall, leaning firmly into position. This prompts us to maintain our position and stick to the correct technique. 

Going Too Heavy Too Soon

Going too heavy too soon can make or break not only a lift but might even cause injuries such as torn biceps or an inflamed bicep tendon that could set your training back months.

As previously mentioned, biceps workouts are about as ego-driven as they come, and with that comes bigger weights and an ever worse technique.

A simple solution is to stick to a weight that allows you to perform the movement correctly. 

While this may seem boring to begin with, it allows you to focus on your target muscle and its contraction, leading to greater results in the future.

How do I train the long head of my biceps?

Long Head Bicep Muscle

Training the long head of the biceps can be done by changing hand position and the position of the body in relation to the shoulder.

This is due to the attachment points of the long head of the biceps, as the muscles originate from above the shoulder and insert into the radius (forearm).

The biceps are responsible for many different movements of the arm. By working with these movements, we accurately target different parts of the muscles.

Can I target just the long head of my biceps?

The long head of the biceps, while an individual head of the bicep, cannot be targeted without involving the other muscles of the upper arm. 

Many other muscles and their attachment points are located in the same area and are responsible for movements of the upper arm, such as the brachialis, coracobrachialis, and supinator. 

Lifting with a focus on a long head of biceps can be done. These other muscles will still play their part through the movement.

Hand Positions to Target the Long Head Bicep

Changing hand position is a great way to target the long head of the biceps. As the bicep flexes the elbows and supinates the wrist (turns wrist outward) we can aim to stimulate long head fibres by working into this movement.

A good example of this is the cross body dumbbell curl.

When we perform this, we can emphasize supinating the wrist and shortening the muscle at the shoulder joint. This increases long head contraction.

When it comes to targeting the long head, stacking both elbow flexion and supination is your best bet for maximizing long head bicep contraction.   

Can you work out your biceps every day?

While training your arms every day is possible, having at least one day’s rest between sessions is highly beneficial for muscle growth and recovery.

This allows the body to replenish energy stores and is essential to optimizing performance and overall improvement.

Bicep Long Head vs. Short Head

To build a great set of arms, we want to be sure we are spending our time on the head that produces the best results,

So, I’ll break down the long head and short head, showing you why they are both important to improving gains.

LONG HEAD Bicep

The origin and size of the biceps’ heads are what differentiate their function and overall look of the muscle.

The long head of the biceps originates from above the elbow at the supraglenoid tubercle (front and outside of the shoulder blade), with insertion at the radial tuberosity (upper end of the forearm). 

These attachment points allow the muscle to flex the elbow and supinate the forearm (turn the palm upward).

While the insertion point at the forearm remains largely the same for the two heads, there are some subtle differences that alter the level of elbow flexion and forearm supination. 

It’s this origin and its lateral positioning (outer) that allows us to target the muscles by extending the elbow to create the full length of the long head, and cross-body flexion to increase muscular contraction.

The long head of the biceps’ origin point creates stability, as the tendon runs over the humerus. This supports the ball and socket joint during powerful elbow flexion and supination movements. 

Biceps Short Head

The short head of the biceps originates from the coracoid process (the front boney process of the scapula) and attaches to the radial tuberosity (upper end of the forearm).

Similar in its function to the biceps long head, the short head is responsible for flexion of the elbow and supination of the forearm. 

However, due to some minor insertion point variations at the upper forearm, the short head of the biceps function is slightly different.

Research indicates that the short head is more efficient in elbow flexion and supination.

The short is also the larger of the two, and training it specifically can increase overall size and width.

Exercises that require a supinated grip (reverse grip), such as the outward bicep curl, may be more favorable for targeting the short head of the biceps.

Final Notes

With benefits such as improved physique, strength, and performance, there are a lot of reasons to target specific muscles.

Training the long head of biceps can be incredibly satisfying when we start to notice our gains. 

The key to effectively building a massive peak is to start slow and focus on contracting the long head during your repetitions.

By doing this you will be able to avoid injury and improve your results.

So, are any of your favorites on this list? Do you have one you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.