Long head bicep exercises: 11 powerful curls

You bicep is more than a single muscle. This is your insight to the long head bicep.

Long Head Bicep Exercises

11 Bicep Movements

The best long head bicep exercises use a mixture of barbells, dumbbells and body-weight. The top 5 long head bicep exercises for your bodybuilding needs are:

  • Incline curls
  • Drag curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Concentration curls
  • Close grip preacher curls

This is the article Long head bicep exercises: 11 powerful curls.

In today’s article I am going to teach you all about your long head biceps and also give you eleven optimal short head bicep exercises to do at the gym. With all these exercises to add to your gym routine, be sure you understand how often you should train biceps for optimal growth.

What is your long head bicep?

The long head bicep makes up one part of the biceps brachii, while the short head bicep makes up the other. The long and short head biceps not only make up your bicep muscle, but they also enable the function of elbow flexion and forearm/wrist supination.

The long head bicep is located on the outer side of the arm, and is what gives your bicep that tall “bicep peak” when flexed or contracted. Conversely, the short head bicep is located on the inner arm, and is what gives your arm width and girth. The long head bicep is the larger of the two bicep heads, which means you should pay extra attention to the strength and health of your long head.

Your brachialis muscle is also a part of the bicep tendon, and is located underneath the two bicep heads. The main function of your brachialis muscle is to operate the flexing motion in your elbows.

Why is it important to target the long head bicep?

The long head bicep is what makes your bicep peak. If you desire to have bigger and more ripped arms, then targeting the long head bicep muscle needs to be a top priority. If you want your sleeves to fit tighter when you wear your favorite t-shirt, then you need to target your long head biceps more often.

Working both your long and short head bicep muscles is extremely important for building bigger arms, however, the long head bicep is usually less developed in new or casual weightlifters and thus may require extra attention.

It is important to isolate both the long head and the short head separately with different exercises as you build your bicep. By using different movements, grips, and hand positions you can maximize the growth of your long head bicep and finally get that round bicep peak that you’ve desired.

What exercises target long head bicep?

Bicep exercises that use a narrow or neutral grip position are the most effective when attempting to target the long head bicep. Narrow grip barbell curls, neutral grip chin ups, and narrow grip cable curls are all examples of some of the best long head bicep exercises. Below we outline 11 of the best long head bicep exercises that you can start doing today to grow your arms and to reach your goals.

11 Best long head bicep exercises

Here are the 11 best long head bicep exercises you can do at your gym or while working out at home if you have the equipment. To get full rounded biceps take a few of the exercises from our short head bicep exercise guide.

Narrow/close grip barbell curls

Using a close grip when doing barbell curls will target the long head bicep and outer arm, conversely, doing wide grip barbell curls will actively target the short head bicep and inner arm. If you want to get bigger bicep peaks, then you can look forward to doing a lot more close grip barbell curls, which is a great exercise for adding mass to your arms.

How to do narrow grip barbell curls:

  1. Grip the barbell with a supinated underhand grip. Position your hands in a narrow/close grip that is well within your shoulder width. Experiment with different grip positions and see what works best for you.
  2. Pick up the barbell and stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and firmly planted on the ground.
  3. Keep your elbows fixed and tucked to the side of your body while you slowly curl the barbell towards your upper chest.
  4. At the top of the lift, squeeze your bicep muscle, all while keeping your elbows fixed at your side.
  5. Lower the bar back down in a controlled manner until the barbell is back near your thighs. Do not completely extend your arm and lock your elbows.
  6. Repeat until failure.

Incline dumbbell curls

Incline dumbbell curls are an exceptional way to grow your long head and get bigger bicep peaks. The extended range of motion and bicep stretch that occurs when doing incline dumbbell curls is a great way to target your long head bicep. During your incline dumbbell curl you will be rotating your wrists and moving from a neutral to a supinated grip.

How to do incline dumbbell curls:

  1. Find an adjustable bench and adjust the backrest to 60°. Anywhere from 45° to 60° will work fine.
  2. Sit on the bench with your back firmly against the backrest.
  3. In each hand pick up your dumbbells with a neutral grip position and let your arms hang straight down. Your palms should be facing inwards towards the bench.
  4. Complete the curls one arm at a time. Fully complete one rep with one arm before beginning the next rep with the opposite arm.
  5. Begin to curl the weight, while keeping your elbow and wrist locked in the neutral grip position as you lift the weight.
  6. As you are halfway through the lift, begin to rotate your wrists to the supinated position with your palms facing up.
  7. As you reach the top of the lift, squeeze your bicep and completely turn your wrist so you are in a fully supinated grip position.
  8. Slowly lower the weight and return back to the neutral grip as you did in the starting position to begin the next rep.
  9. Repeat until failure.

Drag curls

The drag curl is an interesting variation on the barbell curl, and better isolates your biceps by removing your deltoids from the exercise. Drag curls can be done with dumbbells, an EZ Bar, or a barbell. The unique elbow position used throughout this exercise allows us to isolate the long head and grow the bicep tendon. Read our full guide on the drag curl.

How to do drag curls:

  1. Grab an EZ bar (or dumbbells/barbell) with an underhand supinated grip in a slightly less than shoulder width position. The bar should now be in your hands and resting against the top of your thighs.
  2. Plant your feet shoulder width apart, stand tall with your back straight, and look forward.
  3. Begin to curl the EZ bar upwards, but keep the EZ bar pressed against your body as you lift. Your elbows should travel backwards as you lift the weight, in order to lift the weight in a straight path and keep it pressed (or dragging) against your body.
  4. Lift until the EZ Bar has reached your chest. Hold and squeeze your biceps in this position.
  5. Begin to lower the weight back down again, still traveling in a straight path and in constant contact with your torso. (It is called a “Drag Curl,” because you are dragging it against your body.)
  6. Repeat until failure.

Dumbbell hammer curls

Hammer curls are an incredibly popular weight lifting exercise that does a great job targeting the long head bicep. This is another neutral grip bicep exercise that allows you to focus on your long head bicep and grow your bicep peak. Dumbbell Hammer Curls can be done from either a standing or seated position, however we will use seated dumbbell hammer curls for our example.

How to do dumbbell hammer curls:

  1. Sit on a chair or bench. You may find you are more comfortable with your back against the backrest, or you may find you prefer to sit on the edge of the seat. Both positions are fine, however sitting with your back against the backrest will help you to avoid swinging and cheating.
  2. With a neutral grip pick up two dumbbells, one in each hand.
  3. Let your arms hang down with your palms facing inwards towards each other.
  4. Continue to keep your hand in the neutral grip position while lifting the weight up towards your front deltoid area. Keep your elbow pressed tightly against your body.
  5. Once you reach the top of the lift, pause and squeeze your bicep.
  6. Continue to keep your palm facing inwards as you lower the weight back down to the starting position. The range of motion and hand position used for the exercise should make you feel as though you are swinging a hammer, hence “hammer curls.” Alternate arms and complete the curls one at a time.
  7. Repeat until failure.

Standing alternating dumbbell curls

Standing curls are a simple and effective exercise that can be completed using dumbbells as well as resistance bands, milk jugs, or water bottles for those of you doing bicep exercises at home. Standing dumbbell curls have been used to build bigger biceps since the early days of bodybuilding and this simple bicep exercise will continue to be an arms day staple long into the future.

How to do standing dumbbell curls:

  1. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip, and hold the dumbbells by your side in a neutral position with your palms facing in.
  2. Keep your back straight, stand tall, and firmly plant your feet shoulder width apart.
  3. Without swinging your arms or using your back, slowly start to curl one of the dumbbells upwards.
  4. Keep your elbows close to your body, and begin to twist your forearm to a supinated grip position as you reach the top of the lift.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbell and turn your hand back to the neutral position as the weight comes to rest at your side.
  6. Alternate arms and repeat until failure.

Concentration curls

Concentration curls are a great way to build your long head as well as your short head bicep, making it one of the most effective types of bicep curls. The concentration bicep curl will not only strengthen your bicep peak and outer arm, but it will also work your inner arm, brachialis, and short head bicep.

How to do concentration curls:

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair or bench and sit at an angle with your legs spread. Grab one dumbbell and place it on the floor in between your legs.
  2. Reach down with either your left or right arm and grab the dumbbell with an underhand supinated grip.
  3. Lift the weight off the ground, and let the back of your elbow rest against the inside of your thigh.
  4. Using a slow and controlled motion, begin to curl the weight upwards towards your face.
  5. Pause and squeeze your bicep at the top of the lift, and then begin to slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position. Be sure to keep your elbow pressed against your thigh the entire time.
  6. Do 8 to 12 consecutive reps with one arm, and then place the weight on the floor and repeat the exercise with the opposite arm.

Bayesian cable curls

Cables are a useful tool across a range of muscle groups because of the tension they provide throughout the range of motion. The Bayesian Cable Curl is similar to the incline dumbbell curl in that your elbows are positioned behind you, which is great for focusing on long head bicep contraction. Bayesian cable curls provide a good bicep stretch that reaches all the way from your elbow to your shoulder, and boosts long head bicep activation throughout the movement.

How to do bayesian cable curls:

  1. Begin by adjusting the cable pulley down to its lowest position, as close to the floor as possible. Attach a single stirrup handle onto the cable pulley.
  2. Grab the handle with an underhand supinated grip and step forward, away from the cable pulley. You should now be standing one step away from the pulley with your back towards the pulley and your arm extended behind you.
  3. Keep your elbow locked in its current position behind you, and slowly curl the cable upwards until you can fully squeeze your long head bicep at the top of the pump.
  4. Slowly lower the cable back down to the starting position and repeat until failure. Do one complete set with one arm before switching on to the next.

Chin ups

Chin ups work different muscles in your body depending on your grip position while holding the bar. Holding the bar with a supinated grip with your hands in a less-than-shoulder-width narrow grip position, offers your bicep long head a tremendous workout. Chin ups that focus on your biceps are also a lot easier to do when compared to chin ups that focus on your lats, which means you’ll be able to start using this exercise in your long head bicep routine immediately.

How to do chin ups:

  1. Grab the chin up bar with an underhand supinated grip and your palms facing towards you. Keep your hands approximately shoulder width apart.
  2. Lift your feet off the ground so that you are now hanging from the chin up bar.
  3. Slowly lift yourself towards the chin up bar using a slow and controlled motion. Lift yourself until the chin up bar is at your eye, nose, or chin level.
  4. Lower yourself down slowly so that you can continue to work the bicep tendon as you extend down to the starting position.
  5. Do not lock your elbows at the bottom of the movement, instead try to keep your elbows bent while your arms are extended downwards.
  6. Repeat until failure

If you cannot yet complete a chin up with your bodyweight try to find a spotter to help you, use an assisted chin up machine or hang a resistance band from a pull-up bar to begin building your strength!

Neutral grip chin ups

Neutral Grip Chin Ups are another variation on the chin up that uses a neutral grip position to target your long head bicep. This compound movement benefits a variety of muscles but is especially beneficial for your long head bicep as well as your bicep peak.

How to do neutral grip chin ups:

  1. You will need parallel handles to complete this exercise. Some pull up bars have them already, and if not you can take the parallel handle attachment from the cable machine and rest it on top of the chin up bar.
  2. Grip the parallel handles with a neutral grip and your palms facing in. Lift your feet off the ground until you are hanging from the bar.
  3. Slowly pull yourself up as high as possible without hitting your head. Pause at the top of the lift, hold, and squeeze your bicep.
  4. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position and repeat.

Keep your body under control and as still as possible while you complete this movement. At first you may be swaying from the bar while you are doing your chin up, which is normal. As time goes on try to be mindful of improving upon this stability, and continue to stop your body from swaying back and forth throughout the chin up movement.

Close grip preacher curls

The combination of an EZ bar and a preacher bench go together like Ronnie Coleman and “YEAH BUDDY!” Close grip preacher curls allow your biceps to have a wide range of motion and allows the long head bicep to completely stretch as well as contract. The preacher bench is also beneficial in that it holds your body and elbows in place, which prohibits you from rocking or cheating when completing the exercise, which allows you to totally focus on the bicep heads.

How to do close grip preacher curls:

  1. Locate a preacher bench and an EZ bar. Adjust the height on the seat of the preacher bench so that the angled pad reaches just below your armpits when you reach over to grab the EZ bar.
  2. Pick up the EZ bar with a supinated underhand grip and position your hands narrowly on the bar. Experiment with the position of your narrow grip to see what works best for you and your bicep heads.
  3. With the back of your arms and elbows firmly planted on the angled pad of the preacher bench, begin to lift the bar up towards your face. Complete this action slowly and with total control.
  4. Once the top of the lift is reached, pause and squeeze your bicep.
  5. Release the bar downwards slowly so that you can still feel the tension and bicep stretch in your arm as you put down the weight.
  6. Finish the movement once you are back at the original starting position, and repeat until failure.

Narrow grip straight bar cable curls

Narrow grip straight bar cable curls are the cable equivalent of the narrow grip barbell curl and are one of the best exercises to target the long head bicep. Attaching an 18” (45.72cm) straight bar attachment to the cable pulley allows us to use a close grip supinated position to effectively stretch, contract, and isolate our long head bicep.

How to do narrow grip straight bar cable curls

  1. Adjust the cable pulley to its lowest setting, as close to the ground as possible. Add a straight bar attachment to the cable pulley.
  2. Grip the bar with an underhand supinated grip and a narrow hand position. Stand tall, keep your shoulders back, and keep your feet planted shoulder width apart on the ground. Keep your elbows locked firmly against your torso throughout the movement.
  3. Your arms should now be fully extended, with tension on the cable, and your biceps stretched. Begin to curl the bar upwards towards your chest. Complete this motion in a slow and controlled manner.
  4. Pause when you reach the top of the lift and squeeze your bicep.
  5. Slowly move the bar back downwards while constantly keeping tension on the cable and isolating your bicep’s long head. .
  6. Finish the rep when you arrive back at the starting position and continue to repeat until failure.

Long head bicep workout

Use these two long head bicep workout routines to strengthen your biceps and add size to your muscle peak.

Workout #1

Exercise Rep Set
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 8-15 reps per arm 4 sets
Drag Curls Until failure 3 sets
Bayesian Cable Curls 8-12 reps per arm 3 sets
Chin Ups Until failure 3 sets

Workout #2

Exercise Rep Set
Standing Dumbbell Curls 8-12 reps per arm 4 sets with increasing weight
Close Grip Preacher Curls 8-10 reps 3 sets
Neutral Grip Chin Ups Until failure 3 sets
Concentration Curls 8-15 reps 4 sets

Final thoughts on your long head bicep workouts

By mixing our long head bicep exercises and workouts into your gym routine, you will be better able to isolate your long head and grow your bicep peak. By implementing the best long head biceps exercises into your routine, you will be able to develop bigger and better looking arms in a shorter period of time. Be consistent with your bicep workouts, use the correct form when completing the movements, and be sure to isolate the long head bicep in order to get the biggest and most ripped arms possible.

Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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