8 Best Biceps Long Head Exercises (Including Workout!)

April 12, 2023

The biceps long head is referred to as the muscle that creates the "biceps peak." While the peak is mainly genetic based on muscle insertions and origins, it doesn't hurt to build sleeve-busting biceps. But can we even isolate the long head of the biceps, and would you want to anyway?

Biceps Anatomy

The biceps brachii consist of two heads:

  • Short head
  • Long head
Biceps Anatomy

Both heads originate at the shoulder and insert on the radius bone in the outer forearm [1]. The primary function of the biceps is to flex the elbow and supinate the forearm. They also help flex the shoulder. The biceps brachii elicit the greatest muscle activation when the forearm is supinated.

There are also the brachialis and brachioradialis, which are preferentially activated with different hand positions [2][3]. But we won’t concern ourselves with that now as we are focusing on the biceps long head.

Can You Isolate The Biceps Long Head Over The Short Head?

You can’t completely isolate the biceps long head from the short head. Both heads of the biceps perform elbow flexion and supination. However, you can better target the long head by placing the biceps under stretch using a supinated hand position [4].

While the research may indicate slightly better muscle activation, it won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of training. Further, why would you want to develop one biceps head? When training for big arms, you want complete biceps development.

That encompasses the entire biceps brachii of the short and long heads. Regardless, here are the exercises that will best hit the long head to get bigger biceps.

8 Best Long Head Biceps Exercises

Incline Dumbbell Curls

I love the incline dumbbell curl and often use it at the end of my biceps training. In my opinion, it is best placed at the end because of the extreme stretch. It places the shoulders in an extended position with the elbow behind the body.

Doing this as your first exercise when not adequately warmed up may increase your risk of injury. Plus, it's nice to have a loaded stretch after plenty of training within the normal range of motion. Here's how to do it:

  • Set the bench to a 60° incline. This is usually one hole past 45°. Sit on the bench leaning back with dumbbells in your hands and arms hanging by your side. Pinch your shoulder blades like a bench press setup to allow your shoulders to retract and stretch the biceps instead of the shoulders.
  • Curl the dumbbells squeezing your biceps until your arms are perpendicular to the floor. You can keep your elbows in place to focus on elbow flexion or move your elbows forward to add a small amount of shoulder flexion.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position, emphasizing the bottom stretch.

Bayesian Curl

The Bayesian curl is the current trendy biceps exercise because of the long muscle length. I much prefer the incline dumbbell curl for lengthening the biceps, but if you have a cable column, this also works. Here's how to do it:

  • Set a cable with a single handle attachment at the bottom of the pole. Face away from the cable stack holding the handle. Stagger your legs so the leg on the side of the working arm is behind.
  • Allow the cable to pull your shoulder into extension, creating a biceps stretch. Curl the cable and bring the elbow forward to flex the shoulder.
  • Slowly return to the starting position emphasizing the stretch.

Barbell Curl

No long head biceps exercise list is complete without the king of biceps exercises—the barbell curl. Huge biceps have been built for decades with this simple exercise. Yet lifters will waste time pumping their biceps with light, fancy movements. Here's how to do it:

  • Hold the barbell with a narrow grip, with your palms facing up. Make sure your arms are extended in this position.
  • Curl the barbell to approximately chest height squeezing your biceps. You can add a slight shoulder flexion at the end for further biceps shortening.
  • Slowly extend the elbow returning to the starting position.

Dumbbell Curl

While you don't get the same loading as the barbell curl, your biceps long head still get hammered during the dumbbell curl. The advantage is the dumbbells come to your side, extending the shoulder further, potentially better activating the long head. Here's how to do it:

  • Hold dumbbells by your side with your palms facing forward. Curl the dumbbells to upper chest height.
  • You can have the elbows move slightly forward at the end to add shoulder flexion to further shorten the biceps.
  • Slowly extend your arms to the starting position and avoid swinging the dumbbells next rep.

Cable Curl

The cable curl is unique as you have close to constant tension throughout the curl, as it's not affected by gravity. Instead, the line of pull is directed by the direction of the cable. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place the cable to the bottom and attach a straight or curl bar. Grab the attachment with an underhand grip and take a step back. Have your elbows in front of your body, not beside it.
  • Maintain this position and curl the attachment to your head. Slowly lower to the starting position.

Band Curl

The band curl has been a new favorite biceps exercise of mine. While it doesn't give the advantage of loading the biceps at long muscle lengths, the peak contraction from increasing band tension is on another level than other exercises. Here's how to do it:

  • Holding the handles in a supinated position, walk back to create tension with extended arms.
  • Keeping your upper arm in place, curl the handles toward your head, flexing your biceps.

Preacher Curl

The preacher curl is a favorite among old-school bodybuilders and is still used today. What I love about it is the ability to lock the shoulders in place and have no upper body momentum to curl the bar. Everything comes from your biceps. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab the EZ bar first and lean against the preacher bench with your arms against the pad. Start with an extended arm position.
  • Curl the bar until your arms are perpendicular to the floor, squeezing your biceps. Slowly lower the bar to the extended position.

Spider Curl

The spider curl is a way to isolate your biceps by reducing the involvement of your upper body when doing a standing curl. Peak tension is achieved at a 90° elbow angle taxing your biceps long head. Here’s how to do it:

  • Set a bench to a low incline. Lie face down with your chest against the bench and your arms hanging, holding a barbell.
  • Maintain a vertical upper arm while curling the bar. Slowly lower to the starting position.

Weighted Chin-Up

The supinated chin-up position elicits greater biceps activation than lat activation [5]. Add load to make it a weighted chin-up, and you have a potent biceps long head builder. It makes the perfect biceps exercise when at home with no equipment. Here’s how to do it:

  • Hold a pull-up bar with an underhand grip. Your hand position should be narrow, not wide. Drive your elbows to your ribs as you pull your chest to the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself until your arms are extended.

Best Long Head Biceps Workout




A1) Weighted Chin-Up

3 x 6


B1) Preacher Curl

3 x 10


C1) Incline DB Curl

3 x 12



It's not worth trying to isolate the long head of the biceps as it's near impossible. Further, you want complete biceps development for sick-looking upper arms. Focus on heavy and high-rep elbow flexion exercises, and your biceps long head will grow.


1. Tiwana, M. S., Charlick, M., & Varacallo, M. (2018). Anatomy, shoulder and upper limb, biceps muscle.

2. Plantz, M. A., Bordoni, B. (2022). Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Brachialis Muscle.

3. Kleiber, T., Kunz, L., & Disselhorst-Klug, C. (2015). Muscular coordination of biceps brachii and brachioradialis in elbow flexion with respect to hand position. Frontiers in physiology, 6, 215.

4. Brown, J. M., Solomon, C., & Paton, M. (1993). Further evidence of functional differentiation within biceps brachii. Electromyography and clinical neurophysiology, 33(5), 301-309.

5. Raizada, S., & Bagchi, A. (2019). A comparative electromyographical investigation of Latissimus dorsi and Biceps brachii using Various hand positions in pull ups. Indian J Public Health, 10, 1625.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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