8 Long Head Bicep Exercises For Thicker Arms
Table of Contents
- Long Head Bicep in the Bicep Anatomy
- 8 Best Long Head Bicep Exercises For Mass and Strength
- 3 Bicep Workouts With the Focus on Long Head
- Wrapping Up
The bicep is a relatively simple muscle group, but optimal development requires more than just curling. Including long head bicep exercises in your routine is necessary for building thick, wide, and strong biceps.
Read on to learn why exercise selection matters, how to work the long head of the bicep, and which eight exercises you can begin to include in your bicep workouts.
Long Head Bicep in the Bicep Anatomy
The bicep is a two-headed muscle. It has a short inner head and a long outer one.  The two heads run parallel and work together to produce elbow flexion (bending your arm at the elbow) and wrist supination (outward hand rotation). 
Both heads originate from the scapula (shoulder blade) and insert into the radius and forearm fascia near the elbow.
Developing the bicep’s long head is necessary for having fuller, stronger, and more defined biceps. The long head contributes to the bicep’s peak and is most pronounced during a back double bicep pose in physique and bodybuilding competitions.
The short bicep head makes up the inner portion of the upper arm and is primarily responsible for the width of the muscle group. Another bicep muscle that also contributes to a bigger bicep is the brachialis.
Given these anatomical differences, certain exercises can emphasize the long bicep head over the short one. 
Can You Isolate Long Head Bicep?
As mentioned above, the two bicep heads work together, which means you cannot fully isolate the long head. Some degree of short head activation is inevitable when bending your elbows or supinating your wrists.
For this reason, you don’t need to devote entire workouts to just the long head.
What you can do is leverage training tactics to target the long bicep head. As with other muscle groups, the best approach is to create a balance by giving each portion of the muscle the necessary attention to stimulate growth. To train the long head of the bicep, вщ the following:
- Close-grip curls (use a barbell, EZ bar, straight bar on a cable machine, etc.). Such an arm position in relation to your torso places the long bicep head at a mechanical advantage.
- Neutral-grip curls and rows, such as dumbbell hammer curls. Keep your thumbs pointed to the ceiling to better activate the long head and brachialis (the muscle underneath the bicep). 
- Reverse-grip (pronated) exercises, like reverse-grip barbell curls. Wrist pronation prevents the short bicep head from contributing as much during curls and rows.
- Movements where your elbows are behind your body––for example, curl while seated on an incline bench. Having your arms behind your body places a greater stretch on the long bicep head. 
Optimizing your workout approach and getting the best results possible is challenging because you must remember many details. One straightforward solution is to use Muscle Booster, a workout-builder app, and gain instant access to a training program that aligns with your goals.
8 Best Long Head Bicep Exercises For Mass and Strength
Now that you know some of the mechanics to target the long head of the biceps, here are a few of the best exercises to build mass and strength in your biceps.
#1 Close-Grip Chin-Ups
- Grab a pull-up bar with your hands a few inches apart and palms pointing back.
- Keep your chest up, inhale, squeeze your abs, and lift your feet off the floor.
- Bend your elbows and pull yourself up in one fluid motion, aiming to bring your chin over the bar. Exhale as you pull.
- Slowly extend your arms to lower yourself—inhale as you near the bottom.
#2 Dumbbell Hammer Curl
- Stand tall or sit on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Straighten your arms and position them to your sides with your wrists neutral and palms facing your thighs.
- Retract your shoulder blades, exhale, and curl both dumbbells while keeping your wrists neutral.
- Lift the dumbbells until your wrists are slightly higher than your elbows, and pause briefly.
- Slowly extend your arms as you inhale.
#3 Reverse Grip Dumbbell Curl
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall.
- Rotate your wrists inward until your palms face your upper thighs.
- Engage your abs, take a breath, and exhale as you curl the weights until your wrists are slightly higher than your elbows.
- Pause briefly. You should feel tension in your biceps and forearms.
- Extend your arms as you inhale.
#4 Standing Dumbbell Curl
- Grab two dumbbells and stand tall.
- Position the dumbbells in front of your body with your hands positioned forward.
- Lean your torso slightly forward to allow for a full range of motion.
- Take a deep breath, engage your abs, and exhale as you simultaneously curl the dumbbells.
- Pause briefly at the top and extend your arms as you inhale.
#5 Plate Curl
- Grab a weight plate by its sides with both hands.
- Stand tall, retract your shoulder blades, and lean your torso forward slightly to allow for full elbow extension at the bottom of each rep.
- Take a deep breath, engage your abs, and exhale as you curl the plate in one fluid motion.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top position and pause briefly.
- Slowly extend your arms as you inhale.
#6 Dumbbell Drag Curl
- Grab a pair of dumbbells.
- Stand tall and rotate your wrists to point your palms forward.
- Retract your shoulder blades, and inhale.
- Exhale as you curl the dumbbells up in a straight line, keeping them close to your torso as if dragging them up your body. Doing so will cause your elbows to travel behind your body.
- Move up until you feel an intense bicep contraction, and pause momentarily.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells, extending your arms fully as you inhale.
Note: You can also perform the movement with a barbell, following the same rules as you drag the bar up along your torso.
You may also like: 10 Essential Pull Exercises
#7 Cross-Body Hammer Curl
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand tall.
- Position the weights to your sides with your arms straight and wrists neutral (palms facing your thighs).
- Inhale, bring your shoulders back and squeeze your abs.
- Exhale as you curl one dumbbell up and across your torso towards your opposite shoulder.
- Slowly extend your arm as you inhale.
- Exhale again and curl the opposite weight.
- Alternate between your left and right arm until you’re done.
#8 Incline Dumbbell Curl
- Sit on an incline bench, holding a weight in each hand. The back support should be at 60 to 70 degrees (almost upright).
- Lean back, retract your shoulder blades, and position your arms to your sides. Have your palms neutral (facing one another).
- Take a breath, engage your abs, and curl the dumbbells in one fluid motion, rotating your wrists forward. Squeeze your biceps at the top as you exhale.
- Pause briefly and extend your arms as you inhale.
3 Bicep Workouts With the Focus on Long Head
The following are three simple biceps routines that emphasize the long head. Though these workouts might seem light, two to three exercises are enough for a productive and stimulative biceps session. Anything more than that is likely overkill for most trainees.
Here are three workout examples to incorporate the above long head bicep exercises.
Long Head Bicep Workout #1
|Exercise||Sets||Reps||Rest Period (sec)|
|Dumbbell Drag Curl||3||8-12||90-120|
|Dumbbell Hammer Curl||3||12-15||90-105|
Long Head Bicep Workout #2
|Standing Dumbbell Curl||3||8-12||90-120|
|Cross-Body Hammer Curl||3||15-25||60-90|
Long Head Bicep Workout #3
|Reverse Grip Dumbbell Curl||3||12-15||90-120|
|Incline Dumbbell Curl||3||15-20||90-105|
Building an impressive pair of biceps that look good takes more than picking two to three curl exercises at random. Here are a few key points to remember from this article:
- The long bicep head runs parallel to the short one. It covers the outer portion of the muscle group and is responsible for the biceps peak.
- It’s impossible to isolate the short or long bicep head. Your only option is to pick exercises that emphasize one head over the other.
- Exercise tweaks that could lead to better long head bicep activation include using a narrow, neutral, or pronated (reverse) grip and having your elbows positioned behind your body during the set.
- Doing an entire long head workouts is unnecessary and inefficient. A better approach is to combine movements for the short and long head into the same sessions.