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The 10 Best Long Head Bicep Exercises

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The Best Long Head Bicep Exercises

What are the best long head bicep exercises?

The bicep muscles are divided into a long head and a short head. 

These two work together to control forearm supination, the rotation of the forearm, and elbow flexion.

In this post, we’ll be sharing how you can specifically target the long head in your upper arms through some effective bicep exercises. 

Both the long and short heads are worked in a bicep workout routine, but this list will help you isolate the long head to get the cut look you’re going for.

So, if building bicep peaks are what you’re after, this one’s for you.

 

The Best Long Head Bicep Exercises

Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being. 

Here’s our list of the 10 best long head bicep exercises:

 

10. Concentration Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Concentration Curls

Great for:

Isolating each arm to build stronger, more massive biceps. 

How to do it:

  1. Set a bench at a height so that your knees are at 90 degrees when seated
  2. Grab a dumbbell with your left hand and rest your upper left arm on the inner part of your left thigh
  3. Curl the weight up towards your shoulder, only moving your forearms 
  4. Pause for a second at the top, then squeeze your left bicep
  5. Lower the weight back down to the starting position and repeat 
  6. Switch arms and complete the same movement on the right arm

Why:

Isolating exercises like concentration curls prevent any momentum from making an exercise easier for a tired or weak muscle. 

What we’re trying to say is simple; concentration curls can be a brutal movement for the weaker arm because they can’t rely on their stronger neighbor to carry more of the load. 

If your goals are to sculpt and build mass, concentration curls should be a part of your arm workouts, no doubt about it. 

When:

Simple exercises with minimal equipment sure make life easier, whether you’re at the gym or lifting at home.

Try to add concentration curls to your arm day routine as often as you can. Start with fewer reps, and add weight over time as you feel those gains.

 

9. Bayesian Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Bayesian Curls

Great for:

An intense, unilateral movement that participates in achieving hypertrophy in the biceps. 

How to do it:

  1. Add a cable to the bottom of a cable pulley 
  2. Grab the handle with an underhand grip, facing away from the pulley 
  3. Take a step away from the pulley station and allow your arm to get a good stretch, stopping when you feel tension 
  4. Squeeze your biceps and curl the cable to your shoulder, and pause
  5. Slowly release the cable slowly down 
  6. Repeat as desired 

Why:

You may know the benefits of unilateral exercises. Training one muscle at a time allows for imbalance corrections and lets the lifter focus on one movement at a time. 

One other benefit comes from the central nervous system; training one arm at a time means each bicep gets special attention, in the form of force and power, from the entire body while you work. 

When:

This is a low-impact movement and can be done up to 5 times a week, depending on how sore you are from other workouts! 

Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps, and focus on that time under tension for each rep.

 

8. Dumbbell Drag Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Dumbbell Drag Curls

Great for:

A twist on the original bicep curl that challenges the arms to work because they can’t rely on momentum. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart 
  2. Grip a dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip 
  3. Curl the dumbbells slowly up the front of your body 
  4. Your elbows should stay behind your body as you lift the weights 
  5. Lower the weight back to the starting position
  6. Repeat as desired  

Why:

To really grow your guns, you need to rely on variations of classic biceps exercises to challenge your arms. 

This is where the drag curl comes in. 

Without the shoulders to guide the movement, the biceps have no choice but to step in and take the reins. In doing so, the load is heavier and more challenging. 

Therefore, you get stronger! 

When:

Drag curls can be done anywhere, so get to it!

It’s worth noting, however, that you should probably start with a lower weight than you would typically grab for a basic standing curl. 

Focus on your tempo and the movement itself before worrying too much about how heavy you’re lifting. Remember, this move alone is more work on those biceps, so don’t overload them.

 

7. Chin Ups

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Chin-Ups

Great for:

A compound exercise that increases grip strength while providing a heavy upper-body workout. 

How to do it:

  1. Grab the bar with both hands and assume a dead hang position off the ground
  2. Pull down on the bar using your elbows and forearms and raise yourself up 
  3. Lift until your chin is above the bar, and slowly lower yourself back down to a dead hang 
  4. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Anyone who has trained with chin-ups knows that they are much more challenging than they let on. The exercises that seem simple are often the most challenging, so keep that in mind! 

Chin-ups will activate the triceps and biceps while working the back, shoulders, and chest simultaneously. These types of biceps exercises are the most challenging and the most rewarding. 

When:

If you have a chin-up bar at home, you’re set. Otherwise, chin-ups can be a great add-on to any arm, back, or chest workout you plan to do at the gym. 

Start with 5 to 8 reps as a starting point, and add reps as you gain confidence.

 

6. Narrow Grip Preacher Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Narrow Grip Preacher Curls

Great for:

Targeting the long head of the bicep through a narrow grip and focused movement. 

How to do it:

  1. Take a seat on a preacher bench with your armpits on the upper pad
  2. Grab the bar with an underhand grip, with your hands less than shoulder-width apart, and fully extend your arms on the bench
  3. Slowly raise the bar until your arms are horizontal with your body 
  4. Slowly return to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

The benefit of using a preacher curl bench is that it helps to restrict movement in your legs and back and isolates the biceps, forcing them to do all the work. 

Using a narrow grip will isolate the long head and make it work independently. This will build muscle mass quicker and more effectively than a standard curl.

When:

If you have a preacher bench in your home gym, you can do this move any time you like. Performing bodyweight preacher curls is a solid alternative if you have the equipment.

Otherwise, plan accordingly. Hit the preacher bench every time you’re at the gym for a killer arm workout and one of the best long head bicep exercises you’ll ever feel. 

 

5. Cable Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Cable Curls

Great for:

Burning out the arms through an isolation exercise that provides heavy resistance. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of a cable machine with your feet hip-width apart 
  2. Engage your core and keep your back strong, and still 
  3. Grab the cables with an underhand grip and slowly raise them towards your shoulder, then slowly lower them back down to the starting position
  4. Keeping the weight plates engaged (not letting them fall) during this movement will target the biceps even more so 

Why:

Biceps exercises that require isolation of each arm are where champions are made. 

You’re working against resistance the entire time, so both arms are guaranteed to feel like jello once you’re done.

Cable curls are an isolation exercise that targets the long head of the bicep exclusively. The other muscles involved are mostly stabilizers that help support the long head. 

When:

Cable curls require a cable machine, so make sure to add this move to your arm workouts at the gym. 

Try completing 10 reps per set, and add more weight or reps as you feel your upper body grow stronger.

 

4. Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Great for:

Building stronger biceps while improving muscle definition and wrist stability.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your knees aligned under the hips and your posture tall 
  2. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and rest your arms at your sides
  3. Bend your elbows and lift your lower arms to bring both weights up towards your shoulders
  4. Hold for one second, then bring the weights back down to rest at your sides
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

Hammer curls train the biceps brachii — the muscle responsible for bending at the elbow. 

Hammer curls will also make daily tasks easier, like pulling things closer to you or across your body.

We rely on our strength training workouts to help us through each day, and hammer curls help support those frequently used muscles.

When:

Practice a few curls before committing to heavy weights to make sure you’re comfortable with the movement, and your muscles can handle the time under tension.

If you feel tension in the biceps, the weight you’re using is effective. Try completing 7 to 10 reps in a set, then add more reps or increase the weight as you gain flexibility and control.

 

3. Alternating Dumbbell Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Alternating Dumbbell Curls

Great for:

Unilaterally training the biceps while promoting wrist supination and recovery.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Grip the dumbbell with an overhand grip 
  3. Raise one dumbbell toward your shoulder, rotating the back of your hand as you lift 
  4. Reverse the movement and lower the dumbbell back to starting position
  5. Perform the move on the opposite arm
  6. Repeat as desired 

Why:

One of the classic biceps long head bicep exercises seen in gyms worldwide, the dumbbell curl is well-loved for building jacked biceps, one arm at a time.

One reason you may love these if you’re just starting out; the resting bicep gets a few seconds of recovery while you’re working the other arm. For heavy sets or tired arms, this is a blessing! 

When:

All you need is a set of dumbbells to complete this move, so no excuses! 

Train your arms with this classic best long head bicep exercise  3 to 4 times a week to build muscle mass and get the long heads working. 

8 to 12 reps per set should be a good starting point, regardless of your fitness level. 

 

2. Narrow Grip Barbell Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Narrow Grip Barbell Curls

Great for:

Targeting the long head of the bicep to build muscle mass for the peak. 

How to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell with a close grip, with your hands almost touching 
  2. Let the barbell rest on your thighs 
  3. Engage your core and curl the bar up to your chest
  4. Slowly lower it back down to your thighs  
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

The more narrow your grip is for barbell or bicep curls, the more you target the long head. Your arms turn in when you hold the bar in a narrow grip, creating an internal rotation.

If you want to add variety to your barbell curls, you can switch between grips as you see fit. 

The standard grip will target both the long and short head, while the wide grip most effectively targets the short head. 

When:

Try to train your biceps 2 to 3 times a week, whether you’re in the gym or at home. 

While completing barbell curls, keep your torso in check. If it swings during this exercise, it’s time to scale down on weights and get your form right first.

 

1. Incline Dumbbell Curls

Best Long Head Bicep Exercises - Incline Dumbbell Curls

Great for:

Getting the long head pumped while improving the overall function and appearance of your upper arms.

How to do it:

  1. Lean back on the inclined seat with a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Let your arms straighten and face your palms out
  3. Slowly lift the dumbbells up towards your elbows, and bring them back down to the starting position
  4. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Adding an incline position to the classic dumbbell curl is a simple way to make things more challenging. 

Your arms may move back behind your body during this exercise, which actually helps to stretch the long head of the biceps.

In doing so, incline curls are an extremely effective exercise for building peaks. 

When:

Try to incorporate incline dumbbell curls into any arm or strength training program you’re working on. 

These are an essential isolation long head bicep exercise and will help you get the look you’re going for in the upper arm.

 

FAQs About Long Head Bicep Exercises

Here you will find a few frequently asked questions about biceps exercises and what you should be focusing on to target the long head. Keep reading for more info!

 

Q: What does the long head of the biceps do?

The long head of the biceps, along with the short head, work together to control forearm supination and elbow flexion while creating stability during these movements as well.

 

Q: How do you activate the long head of your biceps?

The most effective way to activate the long head of the biceps occurs when you supinate or rotate the forearm with a dumbbell or other weight.

This movement, along with the tension from weight, effectively activates the long head.

 

Q: What are the benefits of bicep extensions?

Bicep extensions are essential to any arm workout because they work both the bicep and the tricep muscles. 

This exercise builds upper body strength, sculpts and tones the arms while improving strength and flexibility in the upper arms.

 

Q: How often should I train biceps?

For optimal muscle growth, try to train your arms anywhere from 3 to 6 times per week. 

Within this period, you should have several sets per workout dedicated strictly to your biceps. 

Several days per week is a great consistency to see muscle mass increase and the results you’re looking for.

 

Q: Should I lift heavy for biceps?

Surprisingly, no. A high-rep workout using lighter weights is recommended to build muscle mass and target the long and short heads. 

Lifting too heavy can hinder the range of motion, making heavy lifting less effective as a long head bicep exercise.

 

Summary 

We are confident this list is all you need to achieve the guns you’re hoping for. 

Remember to stay the course, even when lifting is the last thing you want to do. You’re always one pump away from a good mood, and we never regret a workout!

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best long head bicep exercises:

  1. Incline Dumbbell Curls
  2. Narrow Grip Barbell Curls
  3. Alternating Dumbbell Curls
  4. Dumbbell Hammer Curls
  5. Cable Curls
  6. Narrow Grip Preacher Curls
  7. Chin-Ups
  8. Dumbbell Drag Curls
  9. Bayesian Curls
  10. Concentration Curls

What’s your favorite long head bicep exercise? Leave a comment below. 

Hanna has been a fitness fanatic for most of her life. She grew up on the soccer field and volleyball court and credits those sports with her determination, passion for fitness, and leadership off the field. She is currently studying to become a personal trainer and hopes to begin coaching in 2022.

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