Best Exercises for Working Long Head of Biceps

how to target the long head of bicep

Whether you’re a competitive weightlifter, you want to improve your health and fitness, or you long for a “chiseled” look, there’s no doubt that building up your biceps is one of your goals. After all, the biceps are one of the most noticeable and well-known muscles in the body.

These large muscles are situated along the front of the upper arm, lie between the upper arm, and run between the elbow and the shoulder. The bicep muscles are comprised of two heads, called the “short head” and the “long head”, with the former muscle being the one that is constantly on display. 

bicep growth

What is the long head bicep? 

Before diving in and exploring exercises that target the long head bicep, it’s first important to understand the anatomy of these upper arm muscles. As mentioned, the biceps are comprised of two heads, the long head and the short head, and connective tissues referred to as “tendons” anchor these muscles to the bone. 

  • The long head. This part of the bicep begins at the glenoid, a cavity in the scapula. The long head bicep runs through the shoulder joint to the upper arm via a groove that is located in the large bone of the upper arm, known as the humerus. 
  • The short head. This part of the bicep starts at the coracoid, a protrusion on the scapula, and runs next to the long head on the interior of the arm. 

The heads of the bicep connect together in the middle of the arm, forming a combined muscle. While the heads work together in unison to move the forearm, anatomically speaking, they’re distinct and lack conjoined fibers. Each head extends down the upper arm toward the elbow, swivel 90 degrees, and connect to the radial tuberosity, a protrusion that sits just underneath the neck. 

While it is true that establishing a balanced workout is important if you want to boost the strength and the appearance of the upper arm, isolating and targeting each head of the bicep is also important. By including exercises that concentrate on the long head biceps, you’ll now only improve the aesthetics of your upper arm, but you’ll also strengthen their flex. 

Why targeting the long head bicep is important 

When you’re working out your upper arms, if you don’t concentrate on the type and the technique of the exercises you’re doing, you will end up focusing too much or too little on the long head bicep; if you’re constantly focusing on bicep curls, for example. If you want to enhance the aesthetics of your upper arm, increase your strength, and improve your flex, incorporating exercises that concentrate on the long head bicep is important. 

Exercises that target the long head bicep

In order to target the long head bicep, incorporate exercises that involve extending your arms behind your body and transition through a wider range of motion.  Including these variations into your workout routine, when you’re in the concentric phase, you’ll be able to concentrate the longer muscle.

For example, when you’re using a barbell, shift your grip to a narrow stance to focus on the long head, as wide grip workouts are better suited for targeting the short head of the bicep.

When you’re doing curl exercises, you can also add in a twist; for instance, when you’re doing unilateral workouts, such as curls, to target the long head bicep, simply twist your wrist. It’s important to note, however, that this twisting should be slight and done when you’re at the height of the concentric phase. 

Narrow grip barbell curls

One of the most effective exercises that targets the long head bicep is the barbell curl. As mentioned, by simply changing the width of your grip, you will be able to change the focus of the movement of your harm from the short head to the long head bicep. 

  • Start by standing so that your feet are hip-width apart 
  • Using an underhanded grip, hold a barbell just slightly narrower than the width of your shoulders
  • While bracing your core and holding your shoulder back, curl the barbell up toward your chest
  • Be sure to keep the elbows tucked into your sides and a bit behind you
  • When you reach the top of the movement, stop, squeeze, and then slowly return to the starting position

Single-Arm behind-the-back band curl

If one of your biceps is bigger than the other, incorporate unilateral exercise into your routine, as these exercises will correct imbalances. Instead of a barbell or dumbbell, you’ll need resistance bands for this exercise. 

  • Attach the resistance band to a solid point at about the height of your waist
  • Reach for the band with one hand, turn your body, and take a couple of steps forward so that your arm is slightly stretched out behind you 
  • To improve your stability, place your feet in a staggered stance
  • Hold your core and curl the band while tucking in the elbows just a bit behind you; don’t let the band twist your shoulder back
  • When you’re at the top of the movement, twist your wrist out and squeeze
  • Slowly alter the movement while maintaining tension and control as you go back to the start position 

Dumbbell hammer curls

Dumbbell hammer curls are a staple amongst bodybuilders. That’s because they target the long head bicep and the brachialis (the forearm). If you want to extend your range of motion or you’re concerned about compensations, you can substitute the dumbbells for resistance bands. 

  • Position your feet so that they’re shoulder-width apart
  • Hold the dumbbells so that they’re upright in both of your hands and run parallel to your body when you hold them out in front of you, allowing them to rest next to your thighs
  • Stabilize your core and tuck your elbows in as you curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders
  • When you reach the top, stop, squeeze the muscle, and do a bit of a twist to further target the long head bicep
  • Alternate the movement, securing a slow controlled motion until you return to the starting position

Wrapping It Up

By including exercises that focus on the long head biceps into your workout routine, you’ll be able to successfully boost the muscles in your forearms, increase your flex, improve your strength, and enhance your overall physical appearance

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