A well-built, long head bicep muscle makes one’s arm visually more appealing.
It helps to add fullness and girth to your biceps, and it’s even more beneficial when you’re aiming to increase the peak of your biceps.
Most of us want to grow big biceps but struggle with it, and the cause might be you’re not doing the exercises correctly, lack of intensity, or even doing the wrong exercises.
In this article, we’ll dig deep into how you can get the peak long head biceps. We’ll get the ten best long head biceps exercises with their proper form and alternatives, and give you a proper workout plan to build massive bicep peaks.
Long Head Bicep Muscle Anatomy
The biceps is a two-headed muscle — long head and short head.
Heads refer to a muscle with different attachment points. Here at biceps, it’s two.
Another muscle that tends to be forgotten is the brachialis. It lies beneath the biceps and assists in the flexion of the elbow.
In athletics, the long head adds the peak to the bicep, whereas the short head mainly influences biceps width. That’s why most long head exercises are also called the bicep peak exercises.
Both the biceps heads enforce opposite movements. The short head pulls the arm back towards the trunk (adduction), whereas the long head pulls the arm away from the trunk (abduction) and turns it inwards.
One of the important functions of the long head of the bicep is to stabilize the humeral head in the glenoid during powerful elbow flexion (i.e., heavy biceps curl) and forearm supination.
When aiming to increase the strength and peak of the biceps, training the long head is crucial. As it’s a visual muscle of our upper body, building the peak of the long head enhances one’s arm to be more attractive.
Sounds good. Let’s find out which equipment is more effective in training the long head of the bicep.
Dumbbells vs Barbells: What Works Best?
Studies have shown that increasing mechanical tension on the muscle can lead to more significant gain. This means lifting more heavyweights will allow you to grow stronger and larger muscles.
Dumbbells are great for several reasons. They allow you a longer range of motion, leading to better muscle stretch and contraction. (1)
Dumbbells are great for minimizing muscle imbalances since each side of your body can perform the movement independently. Also, they tend to create less discomfort as they allow us for more neutral movements.
On the other hand, barbells are favorites in lighting more heavyweights than dumbbells. (2) And with barbells, you also don’t require much stabilization compared to dumbbells.
The bottom line is you should incorporate both into your workout routine!
Let’s jump into the best biceps exercises for the long head, which you can perform with dumbbells, barbells, and machines.
10 Best Long Head Biceps Exercises for Peaks
Here’re the ten best long head biceps exercises you can do for peaks, which you can add to or use to modify your current training plan.
1. Alternating Dumbbell Curl
Alternating dumbbell curl is an excellent exercise in terms of getting peak contraction to the long head of the bicep and helps to minimize muscle imbalance.
It allows you to focus on one muscle part at a time, leading to a greater muscle mind connection, resulting in a more effective workout and better gains.
- Start by holding two dumbbells at your sides in a neutral grip position and keep your elbow soft bend, not locked out.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep your body upright and spine neutral.
- Rotate your left hand (start by weaker one) upwards and keep your wrist slightly inward towards your body to target the outer head of the bicep. And as you come up, squeeze the bicep.
- Then on the negative, when you’re coming down, rotate your hand back to the starting position and alternate with the other arm.
- Make sure to choose a weight that you can perform this exercise in a controlled form for 6-12 repetitions.
- You can perform this exercise in a seated position, where you’ll be able to prevent back movements and get a better balance.
- Another variation you may want to follow is when you are holding the dumbbells, keep them always facing in front of you. Don’t turn them on a neutral grip position throughout the entire movement to keep the biceps engaged for the whole set.
- Incline dumbbell curl: It’s almost the same movement. You just gonna be using an incline bench to increase the range of motion. We’ll get back to this exercise later.
2. Concentration Curl
Here’s another single-arm movement that allows you to build a better neuromuscular connection and get a crazy contraction on your biceps.
The concentration curl is one of the best exercises to maximize the bicep peak.
- Sit down on the bench, grab a dumbbell and rest the elbow inside your thigh with one hand.
- Keep your chest up, palm facing forward, and other arm on your opposite thigh for support.
- Then curl your arm and bring the dumbbell all the way up to your chest and squeeze the bicep.
- Then come back down to the starting position. Repeat desired reps, then switch to the other arm.
- Make sure your elbow is locked in place when you come back down, don’t hyperextension it.
- You can do this movement in a standing position as well. Hold a dumbbell/kettlebell, shift your weight to one side, place your elbow on the inside of your thigh, and perform the curl as mentioned above.
- Supinated dumbbell curl: Here you hold a pair of dumbbells shoulder-width apart in a standing position and curl your arms just like a typical barbell curl movement.
- Dumbbell drag curl: It’s also an impressive alternative when aiming to smash the peak of the bicep. Here you bring your elbows and shoulders back slightly as you curl the dumbbells upwards like “dragging” the weights up your body.
3. Incline Dumbbell Curl
The incline dumbbell bicep curl is a little more advanced than a regular bicep curl. It allows you to get a nice stretch (longer range of motion) on your bicep for better muscle fatigue.
It’s an excellent one to hit the peak of the bicep and can be a great alternative option if your body moves too much or lacks balance during typical standing curl movements.
- Set up an incline bench for about 45-60 degrees, hold a pair of dumbbells with your hands and sit down on the bench.
- Place your back and head firmly on the bench, feet flat on the floor, core tight, and keep your arms hanging at your sides while slightly bending the elbows.
- Then curl and bring both hands as close to your armpit as possible. And as you bring your arms up, contract your biceps at the top and then lower back down.
- Make sure when you curl the arms up, your elbows shouldn’t come forward. They should hang in the same place throughout the entire movement with little bending position for better bicep contraction.
- While you are hanging your arms, instead of a neutral grip, you can keep your palms facing forward to keep the tension on your biceps all the time.
- If you’re a beginner or unable to contract the bicep muscle, try to alternate your arm to build a better neuromuscular connection.
- Bayesian curl: It’s a great alternative to incline dumbbell curl as it offers a longer range of motion and stretches the bicep. We’ll get back to this exercise later.
4. Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Dumbbell hammer curl can be a great (and my go-to) exercise for finishing off the bicep workout because it gives the pump you need before ending the session.
The dumbbell hammer curl also trains the brachialis (outer part of the bicep). Follow the instructions below to get the maximum tension to the long head.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, maintain a neutral spine, chest up, and wrists straight.
- Grab in the middle or closer to the top of the dumbbells with your hands.
- Maintain your wrists slightly in front of your hips which will keep your biceps engaged during the whole set.
- From there, raise the dumbbells toward your shoulders, contract the biceps, and then lower back down.
- Make sure your elbows and back aren’t swinging/moving while performing this exercise.
- Incline seated hammer curl: Get yourself on an incline bench, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with neutral grips, and perform hammer curl. Try alternating arms for better muscle-mind connection.
- Preacher hammer curl: Set a preacher machine, and instead of doing the regular curls, grab the dumbbells (or one at a time) on a neutral grip and do your reps. It will help you maintain balance and give stretch to the bicep.
- Want to lift heavier? Try swiss bar hammer curls, which is give you a neutral grip so you can efficiently hit the long head of the bicep with more heavyweight.
5. Waiter Curl
The waiter curl is my favorite and one of the most effective ones when it comes to getting an insane contraction in the long head of the bicep. It’s pretty similar to drag curl, where you eliminate your forearm to get the maximum tension to the long head.
And this single exercise can dramatically increase your bicep peak after 3-4 sets. Let’s learn how to perform this exercise correctly.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep your core tight and spine neutral.
- Pick a heavy dumbbell and hold one side of the dumbbell on your palms. Make sure the top of the dumbbell always faces up toward the ceiling.
- Curl the dumbbell up towards our chin and squeeze your bicep at the top.
- Then get down as low as you can and repeat.
- You can change the position of your wrists to ensure the top surface of the dumbbell always faces upward.
- Incline waiter curl: Get yourself on an incline bench on your chest. Place one side of a dumbbell on your palms and hang your arms at the edge of the incline portion. Perform the waiter curl movement as discussed above. Here you’ll allow yourself a more extended range of motion for better results.
- Drag curl: The waiter curl provides a pretty similar contraction as the drag curl. They eliminate forearms and maximize biceps tension. How to perform drag curl? We’ll get back to it later.
- Incline dumbbell drag curl: You just have to hold a pair of dumbbells and sit on an incline bench. Bring your elbows and shoulders back slightly as you curl the dumbbells upwards, like dragging the weights up your body.
6. Close Grip Barbell Curl
Now it’s time to smash the long head of the biceps with the barbells means some heavy moves.
The first exercise we’ve is the close grip barbell curl which can be done with a straight or EZ bar. It offers quality contraction to the lateral part of the bicep, and by lifting heavy, you’ll increase the peak of the long head.
- Hold a barbell with a closer grip (inside your shoulder width) position in front of your hips.
- Sand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your core tight, chest up, and lock your shoulders.
- From there, up the bar towards our chin and squeeze your bicep at the top.
- Then slowly come back down to the starting position. Repeat.
- Make sure you choose a weight that you can curl for about 6-18 reps without swinging your back and hips.
- Narrow grip dumbbell curl: It’s almost the same movement. Grab a pair of dumbbells and keep your hands closer so you can follow the same pattern as you do with a barbell.
- You can also do these close-grip curls in a seated position where you can better eliminate the swinging of your back and hips.
- Close grip preacher curl: Get yourself on a preacher machine and perform the narrow grip curl with a straight or EZ bar.
7. Barbell Drag Curl
In drag curl, you’ll feel like you’re just popping your bicep out if you’re doing it in a proper form. It’s a great exercise to get the peak of the biceps.
Let’s check out how to perform the drag curl correctly.
- Begin by standing upright, holding a straight or EZ bar shoulder-width apart, and keeping your core tight.
- Pull your elbows back to drag the bar to your body and up the bar as far as you can without raising your shoulders.
- Flex the biceps as hard as possible at the top and then slowly let it down to the starting position.
- Make sure you get a solid contraction of your biceps on every repetition.
- Incline drag curl: Go over an incline bench with a barbell and perform the drag curl movement. Here you’ll keep your arms out of your body, leading to a longer range of motion for better bicep stretch.
- Dumbbell drag curl: You can also use a pair of dumbbells to perform the standing drag curl. Dumbbells will allow you to go further upward for a more hard contraction.
8. Close Grip Preacher Curl
The preacher curl is one of the best bicep exercises to force yourself into negative movement, which associates with increasing strength and more significant long head peaks.
This exercise keeps your bicep engaged throughout the entire movement and gives additional stretch to the long head.
- To begin, place a bar on the preacher rack. Get yourself on the preacher machine and grab the bar closer than shoulder width.
- Curl the bar up towards your face and squeeze the bicep at the top.
- Then slowly lower the bar down to the starting position until your elbows are completely extended. Repeat for reps.
- You can use a dumbbell to perform one arm at a time for better muscle activation and to minimize muscle imbalance.
- If you don’t have access to a preacher curl machine, you can use an incline bench or something like that where you can place your arm to perform the same curling movement with a dumbbell.
- Another variation you may want to perform is chin-up which needs to keep your arm out from the body and requires strength as you do this movement. You can add weights by attaching a plate to your body.
9. Bayesian Curl
Let’s keep the dumbbells and barbells at a side and shock the long head with some creative variations.
And the first one we’ve is bayesian cable bicep curl which is pretty similar to incline dumbbell curl means your bicep gonna be hit by a longer range of motion movement, which means better muscle fatigue and gains.
- To start, set up the cable machine with your desired wight. Grab the handle and take 2-3 steps forward so that the cable gets tight.
- Keep your core tight and lean a little bit forward. Curl your arm up toward your shoulder and contract your bicep at the top.
- Then slowly lower your hand down until your elbow is fully extended, and you feel a nice stretch on your bicep.
- Repeat for desired reps, then switch to other arm.
- Incline dumbbell curl: It’s a great alternative exercise to cable bicep curl. Do it with dumbbells if you don’t have access to a cable machine.
- Narrow grip preacher curl: You’ll get a similar king of contraction and stretch at the bayesian cable curl. See above for exercise instructions.
10. Close Grip Chin-Ups
Chin-ups are great for increasing the strength and definition of the upper arm, especially the biceps. And when you use a closer grip, you transfer the maximum tension to the long head of the bicep.
Let’s learn how to perform this bodyweight exercise.
- Grab a pull-up bar with a supinated (palms facing you) grip shoulder-width apart.
- Take a deep breath, squeeze your glutes and core tight and depress the shoulder blades.
- Pull your chin up towards the bar by generating power through your arms and contract your bicep at the top.
- Then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat.
- You can attach a weight plate to your waist to increase your strength and bicep peak.
- Neutral grip chin-ups: When you’re using a neutral grip, it becomes similar to the hammer curl, which can help you train the long head of your bicep.
- Narrow grip barbell curl: It can also be a great alternative to chin-ups, especially when you’re not so strong with bodyweight movements. See the instructions above to learn this exercise.
Building a Long Head Bicep Workout Plan
Here’s your sample workout routine for the long head and biceps peak.
- Narrow grip barbell curl: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
- Incline dumbbell curl: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
- Waiter curl: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Hammer curl: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Any exercises can’t hit a single muscle; they also require or pass a little bit of engagement to the other muscles. And here, for the long head biceps, the short head and brachialis get the activation.
Try incorporating these exercises with the short head and brachialis exercises for your overall biceps development.
Your aim should be training the long head at least twice a week. Or you can pick 2-4 exercises and split them (for 2-4 times) throughout the week for more significant long head muscle gain.
Studies have shown that training the same muscle group twice or more per week promotes superior hypertrophic outcomes and greater muscle growth than once a week.
So… we’ve crushed it — best long head biceps exercises.
Try these exercises mentioned above 2-4 times a week with proper form and intensity, and you’ll eventually notice some visible peaks on the long head.
Remember, training is just breaking down the muscle fibers. You have to take proper nutrition and rest to recover the muscle fibers and grow bigger and stronger.
If you have any questions or queries regarding any exercise or building bigger biceps, sound off in the comment section below. I will be glad to help you out!