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The 10 Best Short Head Bicep Exercises

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What are the best short head bicep exercises?

Ready to target the short head and build muscle mass, achieve hypertrophy, and build powerful biceps that will have you feeling confident for beach season? 

In this post, we’re sharing the best short head bicep exercises that you can do in and out of the gym. 

There’s no shortage of burn in these movements… you’ve been warned. 

Let’s get into it!


The Best Short 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 short head bicep exercises:


10. Supine Cable Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Supine Cable Curls

Great for:

A burn and a pump completed from a lying position to target the inner biceps. 

How to do it:

  1. Attach a bar to the low pulley on your cable machine 
  2. Grab the bar with an underhand grip, with your hands shoulder-width apart
  3. Lie flat on your back, with your feet flat and your legs extended
  4. Tuck your elbows in at your sides and curl the bar up towards your chest
  5. Hold for a second at the top of the move, and slowly release to starting position
  6. Repeat as desired 


Lying down to perform a cable curl does a few things to the inner biceps. It isolates the muscle, forcing them to work in overdrive to get the rep done. 

With time under tension as a key contributor to the burn, supine cable curls will help build strength and mass in the biceps. 


If you are a new lifter, trying out variations of any move is recommended so you can learn and feel how they train the muscles differently through isolation and unilateral training

Perform supine cable curls as a burner for the middle of your arm workout. You’ll want the biceps to be warm and ready to work!


9. Seated Barbell Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Seated Barbell Curls

Great for:

Building strength and promoting muscle mass in the bicep muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Sit at a bench with a barbell resting on your thighs, holding the bar with an underhand grip
  2. Make sure your feet are less than shoulder-width apart
  3. Raise the bar off the thighs and up to shoulder level, with the inner biceps contracted
  4. Lower the bar back down with control 
  5. Repeat as desired


Because these curls are the seated variation, the biceps brachii is fully activated and isolated for a challenging lift. 

In the standing barbell curl, the forearms are targeted more than the biceps. 

You can alternate between seated and standing curls to note the difference in muscles engaged in your arms. 


All you need to perform seated curls are a barbell and a bench. At home, at the gym… get it done! 

Because the inner biceps are isolated in this movement, they’ll be working harder than they are used to in other standard arm exercises.

Be sure to complete a few sets before adding on a heavier weight.


8. Chin-Ups

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Chin-Ups

Great for:

One of the best short head bicep exercises that work the entire upper body. 

How to do it:

  1. Grab the pull up 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 


Chin-ups offer tons of versatility — you can make them more challenging by wearing a weight vest or belt. Grip widths can be adjusted to target various points of the bicep. 

Chin-ups are an “anytime, anywhere” kind of exercise, so find a bar and get to work! 


These will challenge you more than you expect, particularly if you’re new to them or haven’t attempted any since middle school PE. 

Take your time to build the strength to complete them properly, and you’ll be blown away at the benefits they bring to your entire upper body.


7. Zottman Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Zottman Curls

Great for:

Improving grip strength while building bicep mass and working the lower arms. 

How to do it:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing each other 
  2. Slowly curl the bells up towards your shoulders with the palms still facing
  3. Pause at the top, then rotate your wrists, so your palms face downward 
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position 
  5. Repeat as desired 


Zottman curls primarily work the biceps brachii, AKA the short head, and the long head, along with the forearm muscles that assist with forearm flexion, supination, and pronation. 

Zottman curls also train grip strength. 

Working on your grip strength is almost as important as training the biceps regularly. Grip strength improves your muscular endurance and overall strength. 

Studies link a correlation between muscle strength and heart health, so don’t sleep on training your grip! 


Because Zottman curls are multipurpose, we recommend working them into any arm strength training program.

Zottman curls are one of the best short head bicep exercises for a reason.  They’ll have your biceps and forearms burning while also improving grip strength along the way. Win-win!


6. Spider Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Spider Curls

Great for:

Curling with a greater range of motion ensures the biceps are working under tension for a longer period.

How to do it:

  1. Lie face-down on an incline bench angled at 45 degrees, pressing your torso and stomach against the pad 
  2. Hold a barbell with an underhand grip and your hands shoulder-width apart 
  3. Slowly curl the bar upwards, pausing at your shoulders for a good bicep squeeze 
  4. Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired 


Spider curls have a unique advantage over the traditional curl; the consistent tension they provide at the top half of the movement sets them apart from the rest. 

Targeting the short head occurs when the arms hang straight down, and the time under tension is killer as you lower the bar back down. You’ll be burning out the biceps in no time!  


If your home gym lacks an incline bench and a barbell, it’s time to go shopping so you can incorporate spider curls into your home workouts as well. 

These curls can be performed 3 to 4 times a week, depending on your fitness goals and how big your #gainsgoals are.


5. Reverse EZ Bar Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Reverse EZ Bar Curls

Great for:

Altering muscle activation to build bigger and stronger biceps while working the forearms. 

How to do it:

  1. Hold an EZ bar with palms facing downward 
  2. Tuck the elbows and lift the weights as high as you can, around the bottom of your shoulders 
  3. Hold for one second and then slowly lower back to the starting position


Reverse curls love to humble us — if you notice your strength is significantly less in a reverse curl than in a standard bicep, don’t take it too hard. 

The grip change is to blame; different muscles are used when your grip is pronated.

That’s the beauty of reverse curls — they provide a new challenge when you need it and keep things interesting when lifting heavy. 


If you have a bar, you can do this short head bicep exercise. Let that be all the motivation you need to add reverse curls to your arm repertoire ASAP.

Start with a lighter weight and work your way up as those neglected muscles get back in the game.


4. Dumbbell Concentration Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Dumbbell Concentration Curls

Great for:

Focusing on one arm at a time to shape the short head of the 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 starting position and repeat 
  6. Switch arms and complete the same movement on the right arm


To effectively activate the biceps, concentration curls are one of our go-to moves. 

The placement of your hands is essential in this exercise to properly engage the short head.

During supination (rotating the forearm up) and elbow flexion (the forearm moving towards your body by bending at the elbow), the short head is actively working. 

Concentration curls are an effective isolation exercise because pressing the upper arm against the inner leg will remove any option of that arm swaying. 


Perform concentration curls at the midway point in any arm circuit. 

Because the short head will be working exclusively in this exercise, you’ll want your bicep muscles already warmed up.


3. Cable Rope Hammer Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Cable Rope Hammer Curls

Great for:

Targeting the short head of the biceps, forearms, and brachialis.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a rope to a low pulley, stand facing the cable machine about a foot away 
  2. Hold the rope with a neutral grip while keeping your torso stationary
  3. Tuck your elbows at your side and curl the ropes up towards your chest
  4. As you raise the ropes, rotate your fists outward to target the short head bicep
  5. Squeeze the biceps at the top of the move when the rope reaches your chest
  6. Lower back down and repeat


The neutral grip of the cable rope hammer curl makes it a top contender for targeting the short head biceps muscle. 

Alternating between the cable rope instead of the bar creates continuous tension throughout the movement, emphasizing the burn through each rep. 


If you can, plan to incorporate these curls into any arms training program you complete at the gym. 

This variation is designed to take high reps, so aim for 8 to 12 reps per set.


2. Wide Grip Barbell Curls

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - Wide Grip Barbell Curls

Great for:

Isolating the short head bicep muscle with a wider grip and time under tension. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and a wide group on the barbell (your hands should be wider than your shoulders) 
  2. Curl the bar upwards towards your chest while engaging the short head muscle 
  3. Once the bar reaches your chest, slowly lower it back down to starting position
  4. Avoid letting your elbows fully extend at the bottom by curling the bar once you feel the tension 
  5. Repeat as desired 


A wider grip targets the short head of the biceps, resulting in thicker and stronger upper arms and bicep muscles.

The isolation in wide grip curls is what creates effective hypertrophy in the upper arm. 

These curls, in particular, also train the muscles for stability, meaning in time, you will be able to lift more weight. 


Barbell curls are a great addition to any arm workout. 

If you are new to the exercise, aim to complete 8 reps per set, with the last few curls burning out the short head significantly.


1. EZ Bar Preacher Curls 

Best Short Head Bicep Exercises - EZ Bar Preacher Curls

Great for:

Targeted tension on the brachialis biceps (the short head and the long head) by a slight change in arm angle and movement. 

How to do it:

  1. Sit down at a preacher bench with an EZ bar, resting your elbows and triceps on the pad
  2. Your underhand grip on the EZ bar should be farther than shoulder-width 
  3. Pull the bar slowly up towards your face, stopping before you reach a full range of motion
  4. Hold for a second, then lower back down 
  5. Repeat as desired 


Welcome to the best short head bicep exercise on this list… and for good reason!

The preacher bench removes any opportunity for your arms to cheat by swinging or using momentum from the previous lift. 

A seated, supported movement removes any chance to break form, requiring you to perform preacher curls using only the strength from your bicep muscles. 

Because of the challenge it presents, the EZ bar preacher curl is undoubtedly the best short head biceps workout you can do in the gym! 


Preacher curls do require a preacher bench and an EZ bar, so plan accordingly unless you have this equipment at home. 

This exercise will leave the upper arms feeling sore, so try to perform it 2 to 3 times a week as you build strength.


FAQs About Short Head Bicep Exercises

For more information on training the short head in various biceps exercises, check out these FAQs.

We share additional details on why you should be giving the inner biceps special attention.


Q: What does the short head bicep do?

The short head of the bicep works in conjunction with the long head of the bicep to control elbow flexion and forearm supination.

The short head of the bicep is located on the inner arm and is most visible when seen from the front of the upper arms.


Q: What is the function of the bicep muscle?

The main function of the biceps is the flexion and supination (rotation) of the forearms. 

It also assists with the abduction and adduction of the arms.


Q: How do I get a bigger bicep peak?

Building the biceps peak can be done most effectively by targeting the individual heads — the short head and the long head. 

Exercises targeting each head will help achieve the mountain arm muscles that are notoriously difficult to build. 

You can also try training the biceps after a rest day (in 30 minutes or less) to maintain a high intensity throughout the workout.


Q: Which bicep head is responsible for width?

While both the short head and the long head participate in the width of the biceps, it’s actually the brachialis muscle you want to train to see explosive width growth. 

The brachialis is located underneath the long head of the biceps, and it actually pushes up the bicep muscle.


Q: Is it okay to train your biceps every day?

Training the same muscles every day without opting for any time to recover is not a recommended strategy, even if you’re looking to increase muscle mass quickly. 

The biceps need a chance to recover like any other muscle. In the first hours post-workout, muscles lose strength as they heal. After 36 hours, the muscle gains strength as it recoups its power. 

This is why rest days are essential to building massive biceps and upper arms.



There you have it! We’re confident this information will help support you on your journey to bicep greatness. 

Be sure to bookmark this post, so you know exactly what you need to do in the gym the next time you’ve got bicep training on the calendar. 

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

  1. EZ Bar Preacher Curls 
  2. Wide Grip Barbell Curls
  3. Cable Rope Hammer curls
  4. Dumbbell Concentration Curls
  5. Reverse EZ Bar Curls
  6. Spider Curls
  7. Zottman Curls
  8. Chin-Ups
  9. Seated Barbell Curls
  10. Supine Cable Curls 

What’s your favorite short 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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