17 Long Head Bicep Exercises

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTUpdated: November 5, 2023

Long Head Bicep Exercises

Do you feel like your biceps aren’t as big as you’d like them to be? Or do you notice that your bicep looks relatively flat when you flex your arm? If that’s the case, then this article is perfect for you. 

The key to building taller peaks lies in focusing on the long head of the bicep. In this article, I’ll explain the anatomy of the bicep muscle and share the best long head bicep exercises to help turn your arms into mountain peaks.

What Is The Long Head?

Understanding the basics of bicep anatomy is crucial before diving into long head bicep exercises. In this context, I will explain the function of the long head and provide guidance on how to activate it by using specific positioning and exercises.

The word “bi” in bicep refers to the presence of two muscle heads in the front of your arm. In the illustration below, you can observe that the inner part is known as the short head, while the outer part is referred to as the long head.

In addition to these two heads, there is also a third muscle named the brachialis. Although separate from the bicep, the brachialis serves a similar function to that of the long head.

Anatomy for Long Head Bicep Exercises

To build a visually appealing bicep, it is important to work on both the short and long heads of the muscle. The short head contributes to the thickness of the bicep on the inner arm, while the long head contributes to the height or peak of the bicep.

So, if you want your bicep to have a taller appearance when flexed, it is crucial to focus on the long head during your workouts.

In reality, it can be difficult to distinguish between the short and long head of the bicep. However, the image below provides an approximate division of the bicep between the two 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.

How To Work The Long Head

Let’s take a closer look at how to effectively work the long head of the biceps by using different body mechanics. To target the long head, it’s important to pay attention to the position of your hand, arm, and elbow.

The angles of your arm in relation to your body will determine the distribution of weight and the specific muscles targeted during the exercise.

Hand Position

When discussing hand position, I am referring to the rotation of the hand or wrist, which can be described as either supination or pronation. Supination refers to when the palm is facing up, while pronation refers to when the palm is facing down. 

It is important to note that the degree of supination or pronation will affect which part of the muscle is being emphasized during exercise. When the hand is more supinated, the short head of the muscle will be worked more, while the long head will be worked more when the hand is more pronated.

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 the forearm angle is the width of your grip. A wider grip works more inner bicep, while a narrower grip works more of the 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 it easier to understand, I have divided this list of exercises into sections based on the equipment used. For example, there are separate sections for dumbbells, barbells, cables, and other equipment.

This segmentation also makes it simpler to find the exercises that work with your gym equipment. So, whether you work out at a fancy health club or in your backyard, you will be able to find a few long head bicep exercises that 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 – 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 lets you 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 very similar to standing hammer curls – the only difference is that you do the exercise while sitting on a bench. This helps to reduce any extra movements from your body and puts more focus on your biceps.

Incline hammer curls involve leaning back on an incline bench. This puts more emphasis on the long head and brachialis muscles while keeping your arm behind your torso.

My YouTube channel has dozens of videos showing you how to do a variety of bodybuilding exercises. You’ll learn how to target and build specific muscle groups in 90 seconds or less. Click HERE to subscribe, or click on the button below!

4. Cross-Body Dumbbell Curls

When doing single-arm curls, you can change the position of your forearm by angling your arm across your body.

For instance, while performing standing dumbbell curls, you should curl the weight toward your sternum while keeping your elbow close to your side. To focus more on the long head, you can use a neutral or hammer grip while doing this exercise.

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 exceptional 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 or EZ bar cable attachment. Begin facing the cable about 1-2 feet 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 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 towards your armpit while keeping your elbow behind you, almost like a drag curl.

Long Head Bicep Exercises Bayesian Curl

13. Cable Drag Curls

Cable drag curls are performed 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 usual.

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 usual, 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.

Long Head Bicep Exercises Resistance Band Hammer Curl

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.

workouts mobile

Custom Nutrition & Workout Plan

Get a personalized meal plan built to fit your body and lifestyle. Including a custom workout routine designed around your fitness goals.

With your custom plan, you will finally be able to burn fat, build muscle, and transform your body. All this for just $19.99!

Click here to choose your plan.

Long Head Bicep Workout

It’s great that you have a variety of exercises to target the outer bicep, but having too many options can lead to analysis paralysis. To help you out, I will provide an example workout to target the long head of the bicep.

Additionally, I’ll explain how to program these exercises in terms of frequency, sets, and 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, which works excellent 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. 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 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

More Bicep Exercises and Workouts

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 for more exercises and workouts for building bigger arms.

How to Do Incline Hammer Curls for Building Big Biceps

Best Preacher Curl Alternatives Without a Preacher Bench

9 Best Barbell Bicep Exercises for Arm Size and Strength

Chris Bumstead Arm Size & Arm Day Workouts

21 Cable Arm Exercises to Grow Biceps & Triceps

15 Short Head Bicep Exercises For Sleeve Busting Arms

3 Steps to Wider Biceps; Training Tips, Exercises, & Workout

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!

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

By |November 5, 2023|Workouts|0 Comments
Go to Top