17 Long Head Bicep Exercises

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 wider arms is focusing on the long head of the bicep. In this article, I’ll explain bicep muscle anatomy and show you the best long head bicep exercises to turn your arms into mountain peaks.

Long Head Bicep Exercises

What Is The Long Head?

Before we get into long head bicep exercises, it’s vital to understand the basics of bicep anatomy. I’ll also explain the long head’s function and how to activate it using specific positioning and exercises.

 The “bi” in bicep means there are two muscle heads 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.

In addition to the two heads, there’s a third muscle called the brachialis. While this muscle is separate from the bicep, its function is similar to the outer bicep.

Anatomy for Long Head Bicep Exercises

The short head gives your bicep thickness on the inner arm. In contrast, the long head gives your biceps height, also referred to as peak. So if you want to make your bicep look taller when flexed, you need to target the long head.

In real life, it’s challenging to differentiate the separation between your inner and outer bicep. But the image below shows the approximate division of the bicep between long and short heads.

Short Head vs Long Head Bicep Exercises

Arnold Schwarzenegger was known for his mountainous biceps peak, which was primarily due to his exceptional development of the long head.

Now that you know the anatomy of the inner and outer bicep, let’s look at how to work the long head of the biceps using different body mechanics.

How To Work The Long Head

Targeting the long head is all 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.

Long Head Bicep 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.

Another way to think about forearm angle is the width of your grip. A wider grip works more inner bicep while a narrower grip works more long head.

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 up closer to the shoulder, which means it gets activated more when your bicep is in the stretched position.

Outer Bicep Workout Elbow Position

Long Head Bicep Exercises

To make this list of 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 it easier to find the exercises that work with your gym equipment. So whether you work out at a fancy health club or in your backyard, there are at least a few long head bicep exercises you can do.

Dumbbell Long Head Bicep Exercises

Dumbbells are arguably the most versatile equipment for working the outer 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 the long head.

1. 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.

2. 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.

With dumbbells, you have the option to perform this exercise in an alternating fashion, one arm at a time. This single-arm version allows you to focus on muscle contraction and helps you learn the exercise.

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

Long Head Bicep Exercises Dumbbell Hammer Curls

3. Seated Incline Hammer Curls

Seated hammer curls are identical to standing hammer curls, except you perform the exercise while sitting on a bench. As a result, you reduce momentum from the rest of your body, which puts more load on the bicep.

Another variation of seated hammer curls involves leaning back on an incline bench. With your arm behind your torso, you put more load on the long head and brachialis.

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4. Cross-Body Dumbbell Curls

Another way to change your forearm position is by angling your arm across your body on single-arm curls. For example, during a standing dumbbell curl, you would curl the weight up and towards your sternum while keeping your elbow at your side.

You can accentuate the long head more by performing this exercise with a neutral or hammer grip.

5. 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 Long Head Bicep Exercises

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

6. 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.

Long Head Bicep Exercises Barbell Reverse Curls

7. EZ Bar Reverse Curl

An EZ bar reverse curl is almost the same as a barbell reverse curl, except the bar is slightly curved. The curved bar allows your hands to maintain a more natural position during curls, which puts less stress on your wrists.

For reverse curls, grab the EZ bar with your palms down and your thumbs slightly higher than your pinky fingers.

8. EZ Bar 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.

9. 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.

Cable Long Head Bicep Exercises

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

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

Other Long Head Bicep 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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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Long Head Bicep Workout

Now you have several excellent exercises for hitting the outer bicep. But you might have analysis paralysis from all those options.

So I’m going to give you an example long head bicep workout. In addition, I’ll explain how to program these exercises in terms of frequency and sets/reps.

Use These Bicep Stretches Before You Workout

Long Head Bicep Workout Frequency

The first thing to establish is how often you train your biceps. Of course, the answer to that depends on your experience and your goals.

For beginners or people who can only work out a few days a week, a total body 3-day split works well. That means you would do a couple of biceps exercises each workout three times per week.

More advanced lifters might work single muscle groups in each workout with a 5-day or 6-day split. This is called the bro split workout routine, and it works great for growth (despite the name).

In that case, you would work your arms for an entire workout once or twice a week. And you want to include at least a couple of long head exercises in those workouts.

Bro Split Long Head Bicep Exercises

Long Head Bicep Workout Sets & Reps

To grow your arms, it’s best to use a hypertrophy training program. That means using weights you can handle for 6-12 reps.

Also, you should aim for 4-6 sets per exercise. And each workout should include from 5 to 8 exercises. So that’s around 24-32 total sets per workout.

Long Head Bicep Workout Example

With all this in mind, an outer bicep workout starts to take shape. Here is an example using some of the exercises and techniques you just learned.

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.

Long Head Bicep Workout

How To Build Thicker 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 the differences in bicep activation between hammer curls vs bicep curls.

Hammer Curls vs Bicep Curls Cover
Build Bicep Width & Peak

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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