As its name suggests, the bicep is a muscle with two heads: a short and a long one. Training both heads evenly is necessary for optimal muscle growth and strength gain.
This post will show you several long head bicep exercises, the importance of balanced training, safety tips, and much more.
Let’s dive in.
Long Head vs. Short Head Of The Biceps
As mentioned above, the bicep has a short (inner) and a long (outer) head. The two heads run parallel to one another and work together to produce elbow flexion (bending of the arm).
Most exercises you do will train both heads of the biceps, but each will emphasize one over the other. Balancing between movements that focus on the short and long head is necessary for developing your biceps optimally and making them appear great from all angles.
Three Long Head Bicep Exercises
1. Narrow-Grip EZ Bar Curls
Using a narrow grip on bar curls is beneficial for placing the long head of the biceps at a mechanical advantage. An EZ bar is helpful because it keeps your wrists in a semi-neutral position, reducing the risk of stress that can lead to aches.
2. Seated Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curls
The bicep originates from the scapula and crosses the shoulder joint. Sitting on an incline bench and having your arms to your sides is an excellent way to pre-stretch the muscle and promote better activation.
3. Dumbbell Hammer Curls
Dumbbell hammer curls are another effective exercise that develops the long bicep head, along with the brachialis and brachioradialis. Having your wrists neutral (facing your body) puts the long head at a mechanical advantage, allowing it to do most of the work. (1)
Other long head bicep exercises can contribute to optimal growth, but the three we saw are some of the most effective ones you should add to your training.
Bicep Workout Safety Tips And Considerations
The bicep is a relatively small muscle prone to detachment, which can be incredibly painful and keep you out of the gym for a long time. Two ways to avoid that from happening are:
- Warm up well before training
- Lift weights you can control well
Begin each session with a short warm-up sequence consisting of light cardio, dynamic stretching, and elbow flexion (curling) with lighter loads. Doing so is necessary for warming up your muscles and protecting your joints.
You must also pick weights you can control and move through a full range of motion without resorting to swinging your body and using momentum.
Bicep Workout Programming Ideas and Recommendations
The biceps is part of the muscle groups that ‘pull.’ It assists the back and forearms in activities where you pull weight to your body or your body in a specific direction (e.g., during a pull-up). As discussed above, the biceps’ primary function is elbow flexion, which occurs on 99 percent of back exercises: lat pulldowns, barbell rows, etc. (2)
A practical way to program your bicep training would be to pair it with your back exercises. That way, your biceps get trained better and can grow more effectively. Alternatively, you can dedicate one workout to training your arms: biceps, triceps, and forearms. Doing so is beneficial for training your biceps in a more recovered state and doing more high-quality sets.
Click to read more about bodyweight exercises.
- MD, J. V. (2022, July 6). Brachioradialis muscle. Kenhub. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/brachioradialis-muscle
James Myhre & Dennis Sifris, M. D. (n.d.). What do the biceps muscles do? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/biceps-anatomy-4688616#:~:text=Also%20known%20by%20the%20Latin,to%20form%20a%20muscle%20mass.