19 Best Bicep Peak Exercises

According to a Personal Trainer and Former Competitive Bodybuilder

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: March 20, 2023

Do you feel like you have small biceps? Or when you flex your arm, is your bicep relatively flat? If so, this article is for you.

The key to building bicep height is focusing on particular angles and arm positions. So I’ll show you the best bicep peak exercises.

Bicep Peak Exercises

What Is Bicep Peak?

Bicep peak refers to the height of the bicep muscle when flexed. So bigger bicep peaks make your arms look bigger and more impressive in poses like the front or rear double bicep.

While genetics play a role in the shape of your bicep, it’s also possible to train your biceps to maximize the amount of peak you have. As an example, Arnold Schwarzenegger had excellent genetics for bicep peak, but he also used specific exercises to make them monstrous.

Arnold Bicep Peak

Before we get into the bicep peak exercises, it’s vital to understand a little about bicep anatomy. The “bi” in biceps means two muscle heads are on the front of your arm.

In the illustration below, you can see that the short head is the inner part, and the long head is the outer part of the bicep. While both bicep heads contribute to overall arm size, the long head is most associated with building the peak.

In addition to the two heads, there’s a third muscle called the brachialis. While its function is similar to the long head, the brachialis doesn’t contribute to bicep peak.

Anatomy of Bicep Peak Exercises

How To Get Bicep Peak

Targeting the long head for building bicep peak is about your hand, arm, and elbow position. The angles of your arm relative to your body change the load distribution and the muscles worked during an exercise.

Hand Position

When I talk about hand position, I refer to supination and pronation. These fancy words are the technical terms for hand or wrist rotation.

Supination is when your palm is facing up. And pronation is when your palm is facing down.

The more supinated your hand, the more you work the short head. And the more pronated your hand, the more you work the long head.

Therefore, bicep exercises with a neutral or overhand grip are best for building bicep peak.

Bicep Peak Exercises Hand Position

Forearm Position

Forearm position refers to the angle of your lower arm with your body. When your forearm is angled away from your body, you work more short head. And when your forearm is angled across your body, you work more long head.

Consequently, close grip or cross-body bicep exercises are better for building bicep peak.

Elbow Position

Lastly is your elbow position. When your elbow is out in front of your body, you work more short head. While keeping your elbows behind your body works the long head.

The reason has to do with the attachment point of the biceps long head. It inserts higher and closer to the shoulder, which means it gets activated more when your bicep is stretched.

So focus on exercises where your elbow is inline with or behind your torso when training for bicep peak.

Bicep Peak Exercises Elbow Position

Best Bicep Peak Exercises

To make this list of bicep peak exercises easier to digest, I’ve divided it into sections based on the equipment used. So, for example, there is a section for dumbbells, barbells, cables, and “others.”

This segmentation also makes finding exercises that work with your gym equipment easier. So whether you work out at a fancy health club or in your backyard, you can do at least a few of these exercises.

Dumbbell Bicep Peak Exercises

Dumbbells are arguably the most versatile equipment for working the long head of the bicep. The reason is that you have more control over your grip and forearm position.

So here are some of the best dumbbell exercises for bicep peak.

1. Dumbbell Hammer Curls

With hammer curls, your hand is somewhere between supination and pronation – this is called a neutral grip. As a result, your palms face inward through the whole exercise, and the dumbbell looks like the head of a swinging hammer.

In addition, you have the option to perform this exercise in an alternating fashion, one arm at a time. The single-arm version lets you focus on muscle contraction and helps you learn the exercise.

But you can also simultaneously perform hammer curls with both arms, also called a double hammer curl.

2. Incline Dumbbell Curls

Incline dumbbell curls involve sitting on an adjustable bench with the backrest set at 45-75 degrees. By leaning back and letting your arms hang behind your torso, you activate the long head for bicep peak.

Also, the backrest reduces body movement and momentum, resulting in the biceps doing most of the work during the exercise. Usually, incline dumbbell curls are performed with a supinated grip as shown below.

3. Incline Hammer Curls

You can also perform dumbbell incline curls with a neutral grip. Combining this arm position with a hammer grip is an excellent way to maximize long head activation.

Again, you can perform this exercise with both arms simultaneously. Or alternate arms with each rep as demonstrated in the video below.

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4. Waiter Curls

Waiter curls are a unique exercise where you hold a dumbbell by the head instead of the handle. While this exercise requires a palms up grip, it also angles your arms across the front of your body, working the long head.

At first, the waiter curl may feel awkward. So start with a relatively light dumbbell and focus on squeezing the bicep contraction at the top.

Bicep Peak Exercises Waiter Curls

5. Dumbbell Drag Curls

Drag curls are another uncommon bicep exercise that may look like bad form at first. However, by “dragging” the weight up the front of your body, you keep your elbows back and engage the long head.

Using a hammer grip is also a good idea when doing dumbbell drag curls for bicep peak.

Bicep Peak Exercises Dumbbell Drag Curl

6. Dumbbell Reverse Curl

Reverse curls are when you lift the weight with a grip opposite the traditional bicep curl. For dumbbells, this means your palms face down throughout the exercise.

With this pronated grip, you minimize the involvement of your inner bicep. And put most of the load on your brachialis, long head, and upper forearm.

Bicep Peak Exercises Dumbbell Reverse Curl

7. Zottman Curl

The Zottman curl is a bicep exercise named after American strongman George Zottman. In the late 1800s, Zottman popularized this exercise by building exception arm size and grip strength for his era.

A distinct feature of the Zottman curl is that your hand position changes during the exercise. This exercise is usually performed with dumbbells to rotate your wrists at the top and bottom of the movement.

Barbell Bicep Peak Exercises

Next up, let’s look at some bicep peak exercises you can do using various types of barbells.

8. Barbell Reverse Curl

Again, reverse curls are performed with a pronated grip where your palms face down for the entire exercise. In other words, an overhand grip on a barbell or EZ bar.

Also, make sure you keep your elbows pinned at your sides to isolate the bicep muscles.

Bicep Peak Exercises Barbell Reverse Curl

9. Reverse Preacher Curl

Another way to do reverse curls is using a preacher bench. With reverse preacher curls, the bench holds your upper arms in place. So you don’t get assistance from momentum and must use strict form.

Bicep Peak Exercises Reverse Preacher Curl

10. Barbell Drag Curls

Drag curls are a variation where you pull the weight up towards your armpits against the front of your body. Essentially, you’re curling the weight close to your body instead of away from your body.

This subtle change in form is similar to incline curls, where your elbows move behind your torso. And that’s what brings the long head of the bicep into play.

11. Tricep Bar Hammer Curls

A tricep bar has two parallel handles close together, which is ideal for tricep exercises like skull crushers. But it also works well for an exercise equivalent to barbell hammer curls.

The parallel handles place your plans facing in like the dumbbell hammer curl. While the close grip angles your arms across your body, which is also great for building bicep peak.

Bicep Peak Exercises Barbell Hammer Curl

Cable Long Head Bicep Exercises

Cables are another good equipment option for building bicep peak. With this apparatus, you can keep more constant tension on the muscles compared to free weights.

12. Cable Reverse Curl

You can do the cable reverse curl with a straight bar or EZ bar cable attachment. Begin by facing the cable about 1-2 feet away from the low pulley. Then perform the reverse curl exercise as you would with a barbell.

Bicep Peak Exercises Cable Reverse Curl

13. Cable Rope Curl

The rope attachment is excellent for training the long head of the biceps because it keeps your hands neutral during curls. In this way, rope curls are similar to hammer curls or cross-body curls.

Cable Rope Curl

14. Cable Bayesian Curl

Another way to work the long head is by facing away from the low cable using a single-hand attachment. Grab the handle with an underhand grip and step forward with your back to the pulley. This starting position should place your elbow behind your torso like an incline curl.

From there, curl the handle up towards your armpit while keeping your elbow behind you, almost like a drag curl.

Bicep Peak Exercises Cable Bayesian Curl

15. Cable Drag Curls

Cable drag curls are performed in much the same way as barbell drag curls. Stand with the low pulley close to your toes for this variation to drag the cable straight up.

Again, you can use a straight or EZ bar attachment for this exercise.

cable drag curl

Other Bicep Peak Exercises

If you work out at home, you might not have access to all the equipment listed in the previous exercises. So I added this section to include alternate long head bicep exercises using machines, bands, or kettlebells.

16. Pronated Machine Preacher Curls

On the machine preacher curl, grab the handles with your palms facing down instead of facing up. Then perform the preacher curl exercise as normal.

Note that this variation only works if your preacher curl machine has straight or rotating handles. This exercise is not appropriate on machines with fixed, slanted handles because it would put too much stress on your wrists.

Bicep Peak Exercises Reverse Machine Preacher Curl

17. Resistance Band Reverse Curls

To perform a resistance band reverse curl, grab the band or handles with your palms facing down. Now perform the bicep curl movement as normal but keep your palms facing down the whole time.

Bicep Peak Exercises Band Reverse Curl

18. Resistance Band Hammer Curls

Before you begin, slide the foam handles off to one side. Or if you’re using a power band, grab the band with your palms facing in. Now perform a standard curling movement but maintain the palms in grip.

Bicep Peak Exercises Band Hammer Curl

19. Kettlebell Reverse Curl

A kettlebell reverse curl is just like a dumbbell reverse curl except for how the weight is distributed. With the dumbbell, you hold the center of the weight.

But the kettlebell has a handle away from the center of mass of the weight. Therefore, your forearms, long head, and brachialis must do more work to stabilize the kettlebell, and you might not be able to curl as much weight.

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Bicep Peak Workout

Now you have several excellent exercises for hitting the bicep peak. But you might have analysis paralysis from all those options. So I’m going to give you an example bicep peak workout.

You can use this as a standalone bicep workout. Or combine it with back exercises for a bicep peak focused pull day.

Bicep Peak Workout Example

  • Hammer Curls
    • 4 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Reverse Curls
    • 3 sets, 10-15 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Curls
    • 4 sets, 8-12 reps with slow negatives
  • Zottman Curls
    • 3 sets, 8-12 reps

Remember, most of these exercises primarily work the long head and brachialis. So this isn’t a workout you want to use every arm day. And make sure you also include some short head bicep training as well.

15 Short Head Bicep Exercises for Sleeve Busting Arms

How To Build Wider Biceps

In this article, you learned how to make build a taller bicep peak using exercises for the long head of the outer bicep. But if you want to add thickness and width, you can’t forget about training the short head for your inner bicep.

So click below to learn 3 steps for wider biceps.

With this information, you’re well on your way to building massive arms. And if you found this article helpful, take a look at some of my other great content below!

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By |March 20, 2023|Workouts|0 Comments
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