If you’re a bodybuilder or intermediate or advanced athlete, it can be helpful to take a more specific approach to your biceps workouts.
The biceps is a two-headed muscle, and long head bicep exercises will help you specifically target the long head part of the muscle.
But, what are the best long head bicep exercises? How should you program long head bicep workouts?
In this article, we will discuss how to target the long head of the biceps, program your long head bicep workouts, and provide step-by-step instructions for how to perform the following long head bicep exercises:
Let’s dive in!
How to Target the Long Head of the Biceps
The biceps muscle, technically called the biceps brachii, is the muscle found on the front side of your upper arm.
The biceps muscle has a long head and a short head. The muscle fibers from the biceps long head fuse with the muscle fibers from the biceps short head lower down in the muscle belly of the biceps, and then the muscle tapers down to its insertion point at the elbow.
Due to the different sites of attachment on the scapula, the short head is located along the inner side of the front part of your upper arm, and the long head of the biceps is located more along the outer and upper part of the front side of your upper arm.
Biceps long head workouts help develop the long head of the biceps muscle. The long head adds to the “peak“ of the biceps, while the biceps short head exercises help bulk out the width of the biceps.
Because the long head contributes to the peak of the biceps muscle in terms of aesthetics, bicep long head exercises are often referred to as “biceps peak exercises.”
The “peak” refers to the upper top portion of the biceps muscle that forms the “mountain peak” of your muscle when scanning it from your shoulder down to your elbow.
Adding biceps peak exercises to your strength training workout will help get you better muscle definition in the top portion of the muscle.
How to Structure Biceps Long Head Workouts
There are four primary techniques you can employ in your workouts designed to target long head biceps muscle fibers: using a close grip, using a neutral grip, curling with your elbows positioned behind your body, and curling with your shoulders extended behind your body.
In terms of how to best program biceps long head workouts for strength and mass, the number of reps, sets, and relative load you should use per exercise depends not just on your primary training goal but also on your fitness level and the other exercises you are performing in your biceps workouts.
In general, if you are looking to strengthen your biceps long head, perform 2-6 sets, 3-5 reps per set, and at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) for the load. The fewer reps you perform, the closer to 100% of your 1RM you should aim for with your weights.
If your goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth), try to perform three sets of each exercise, using loads that are 70 to 85% of your 1RM for 8 to 12 reps.
The 4 Best Long Head Bicep Exercises to Sculpt Your Arms
Here are some of the best biceps peak exercises:
#1: Incline Biceps Curls
One of the best bicep long head exercises is the incline biceps curl with dumbbells.
When you perform the biceps curl exercise on an incline bench, your arms are able to extend behind your torso to maximize the range of motion of the exercise.
This movement pattern better matches the natural orientation of the muscle fibers in the long head of the biceps muscles.
Additionally, because you are seated in a reclined position, it is much harder to “cheat” because you cannot use momentum or pop your hips forward as you curl to help hoist the weight.
Here are the steps to perform this long head bicep exercise:
- Set a weight bench to an incline of about 60° and then lay back on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Extend your arms fully so that they are hanging down by your side.
- Keep your shoulders pressed into the bench as you slowly curl the weights up to shoulder height and then back down. Make sure to keep your elbows pinned back.
#2: Bayesian Curls
The Bayesian curl is one of the best biceps peak exercises you can do, and it is a great exercise for biceps cable machine workouts since it requires using a cable machine.
You will face away from the cable machine rather than straight on.
Therefore, when you perform the biceps curl with the cables, the resistance pulls your shoulder into extension so that your arm is back behind your body.
This activates the long head of your biceps brachii muscle to help stabilize your arm in shoulder extension.
Then, as you perform the cable biceps curl, you will work the short head of the biceps muscle, meaning that you will work the entire length of the muscle and both heads.
Additionally, the natural position of shoulder extension means that you will get a great range of motion, increasing your time under tension to maximize your biceps hypertrophy and strength gains.
Here are the steps for how to perform this one of our long head bicep exercises:
- Attach a single handle to the cable and set the pulley at the lowest setting near the ground.
- Stand about 3 feet away from the cable machine with your back facing the weight stack.
- Stagger your stance so that the right foot is in front of the left by about 12 inches. This helps improve stability by widening your base of support.
- When your right foot is the one in front, grab the handle with the right hand. Hold the handle with an underhand grip and allow your arm to extend backward behind you towards the weight stack. This is the starting position.
- Slowly curl the handle up towards your shoulder, allowing your torso to lean forward slightly by hinging at the hips.
- At the top position, when your hand is up at your shoulder, slowly curl back down all the way, allowing your arm to again extend backward behind your body in the straightened position before beginning the next rep.
- After you have completed all of the reps on one side, switch sides, remembering to switch your stance so that the left foot is in front.
#3: Drag Curls
Oftentimes, biceps workouts for beginners deliberately do not include drag curls because the exercise can establish poor technique and habits if you do not understand that this biceps curl variation involves deliberately “dragging“ the barbell up your body.
While this is certainly not the “proper“ technique for standard barbell curls, the drag curl is a great long head biceps exercise that purposely drags the barbell up your torso rather than having the weight in front of your body spaced away.
Not only do drag curls help strengthen your posterior deltoids and brachialis muscle, but it’s also a highly effective biceps long head exercise.
Instead of keeping your elbows glued to your side by your rib cage, they will stay stationary, but they will be positioned backward behind your body.
This allows the arc of the movement to curl the weight up along your torso rather than outward in front of your body.
Here are the steps for how to perform this exercise for the long head biceps:
- Stand upright with good posture, holding a loaded barbell or straight bar.
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, chest up, shoulders down, core and glutes engaged, and gaze forward.
- As you curl the barbell up, rather than allowing the path of the barbell to form an outward arc in front of your body, lightly drag or graze the barbell along the front of your hips and torso by pulling your elbows back so that your shoulders are extended, and your elbows are behind your torso.
- After you have curled the bar all the way up your chest, pause at the top position, squeezing your biceps as hard as possible.
- Slowly lower the weight back down, continuing to allow it to track along the front of your body, making light contact with your clothing.
#4: Close Grip Barbell Curls
Standard barbell curls are excellent for strengthening your entire biceps muscle, but if you want to target long head biceps muscle fibers, you should move your hands inward and perform a close grip barbell curl.
This helps cause an inward rotation of your shoulders, which helps target the long head of the biceps.
Here are the steps for how to perform the biceps peak exercise:
- Set up as if performing a standard barbell curl but bring your hands in so that they are just a few inches apart (2-6 inches is ideal).
- As you curl the bar, when you get to the top position, you can lift your elbows slightly upward, which will help further target the biceps long head since it requires some amount of shoulder flexion.
- Pause and squeeze, holding the contraction for a couple of seconds before slowly lowering the weight.
If you don’t have any equipment but want to work your biceps, check out our guide to the best no-equipment biceps workout here.