Do you want bigger and stronger arms? Incorporating a variety of short head bicep exercises into your workout routine will help you build the arms you desire.
A lot of people pick their arm exercises based on preference. The problem here is that they don’t differentiate between the short head and the long head.
In this post, I have compiled 7 of the best exercises to target the short head – to maximize your arm strength and size. These exercises are all easy-to-do and they can be done at home or in the gym.
Let’s get started!
What Are The Best Short Head Bicep Exercises?
Here are my picks for the best short head bicep exercises:
1.Wide Grip Barbell Curls
Wide grip curls are a great exercise for targeting the short head of the biceps. The key here is to keep the pressure on the medial side of your palm as much as possible.
Meaning that when you have a supinated grip (palms facing upwards) try to lift the barbell more with the side of your palm where your pinky lies.
How to do Wide Grip Barbell Curls:
- Stand up straight with your feet slightly apart.
- Grip the barbell wider than shoulder width apart, but don’t take your pinky further than the knurling rings.
- Bend your elbows and curl the barbell up towards your shoulders.
Another great short head bicep exercise – the preacher curls.
Similar to the regular barbell bicep curl, they are unique in that they allow you to isolate the short head because they keep your upper arms in a fixed position in front of you.
Therefore, your shoulder will be in a flexed position throughout the whole movement, meaning that the long head can’t contribute as much to the movement.
How to do Preacher Curls:
- Find a preacher curl bench.
- Make sure your upper arms are stable and against the pad!
- Grab the bar with a shoulder width grip and start curling.
- Stop near the top, at a point where you feel you’re about to lose tension in the bicep.
Preacher Curl Variations:
- Dumbbell Preacher Curl
- Cable Preacher Curl
- Ez Bar Preacher Curls
- Incline Bench Preacher Curl
The spider curls are an awesome exercise. They take away your ability to aid the bicep curl with the rest of your body.
How to do Spider Curls:
- Find a bench and set it to a 30-45 degree angle!
- Pick a pair of dumbbells and go stand over the bench.
- Lower your chest against the bench and set yourself up so that your head is slightly over the edge.
- Make sure your upper arms are perpendicular to the floor!
- Start curling!
Spider Curl Variations:
- Barbell Spider Curls
- Ez Bar Spider Curls
- Spider Hammer Curl
As the name suggests, concentration curls are excellent for focusing on contracting the biceps.
It’s probably my favorite short head bicep exercise, because you can isolate the short head very well, when you focus on supination.
How to do Concentration Curls:
- Take a dumbbell and sit down at the edge of a bench, facing forward.
- Have one knee facing forward and turn the other one out about 90 degrees.
- Set your upper arm on the leg that’s facing forward so that your elbow rests slightly lower than your thigh!
- Make sure your upper arm is perpendicular to the floor!
- Start curling!
It’s good to include chin ups in any short head biceps workout because they are one of the best compound movements for the whole upper body.
It’s also an awesome exercise for developing your pulling strength which is an essential part of any well rounded training program.
How to do Chin-Ups:
- Grab a pull-up bar with an supinated grip (also known as the underhand grip), shoulder width apart.
- You should have you arms fully extended in the starting position.
- Pull your chin over the bar and slowly lower yourself back down.
When it comes to bicep exercises, rotating curls are one of the most popular. This exercise can be done with dumbbells or using a cable machine.
They may seem indifferent to any other bicep curl, but their uniqueness comes from forearm supination.
How to do Rotating Curls:
- Pick a pair of dumbbells.
- Hold them in a neutral grip/hammer curl grip.
- Start curling!
- As you curl your hands up, rotate your wrists mid-way through the rep so that your palms are facing the ceiling at the top of the curl.
- Pause for a moment, and then slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
Reverse curls are a great way to work not only your biceps, but also your brachialis muscle.
Also, if you’re looking to improve your grip strength and want your chosen bicep exercise(s) to have more carry-over to your deadlift for example, then picking reverse curls can be a good option.
How to do Reverse Curls:
- Grab a barbell with a pronated (also known as overhand) grip, shoulder width apart.
- Start curling!
Can’t get any more simple than this!
Reverse Curl Variations:
- Ez Bar Reverse Curls
- Wide Grip Reverse Curls
- Reverse Grip Dumbbell Curl
Anatomy Of The Biceps muscle
Biceps brachii is the latin name for the bicep muscles located in your upper arms. It consists of two parts – a long head and a short head.
The long head originates from the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula (shoulder blade) and the short head originates from the coracoid process of the scapula. Both heads insert into the radial tuberosity of the radius bone in your forearm.
Both heads are responsible for elbow flexion, but the long head also performs shoulder flexion because it originates from behind the shoulder, meaning it crosses the shoulder joint and therefore has the leverage to assist in shoulder flexion.
Can You Isolate The Short Head Bicep Muscle?
It’s impossible to completely isolate any muscle, the human body just isn’t designed for that.
But there are things you can do to target the short head better.
How To Target The Short Head Bicep
1) Take a supinated grip (underhand grip) and focus on curling the weight with the inner side of your palm
2) Take a wider grip to put the short head into a mechanically better position to perform the movement.
Common Bicep Training Mistakes
1) Focusing too much on weight and not enough on form.
You should always focus on good form, even when you’re lifting heavy weights. This will help you avoid injuries and get the most out of your training.
2) Training biceps too frequently.
Biceps are a small muscle group, and therefore they don’t need to be trained as often as other larger muscle groups. Try training them once or twice a week, tops.
3) Skipping the warm-up.
You might think that it’s not necessary, that biceps are a small muscle group and that most biceps exercises are isolation exercises anyway, meaning that the injury risk is smaller right off the bat. So why do the warm-up?
Although that’s true, one of the scenarios where you definitely want to warm-up is when you plan on going heavy. I’m talking <6 reps, RPE 10, 100% type of stuff.
A good warm-up is essential for preventing injuries and getting the most out of your training. Warm-up with some light cardio and/or some short-duration stretches if biceps are the first thing you’re training.
4) Training biceps after bigger muscle groups.
When you train your biceps after larger muscle groups, such as the chest or back, you’re not going to be able to give them the attention they deserve.
If biceps are your weak spot and your main goal is to grow them, try training them before these bigger muscle groups instead.
So there you have it – seven short head biceps exercises that will help you target and build those stubborn short head biceps.
Remember to focus on form, do a proper warm-up, and rest between workouts so your muscles can recover in order to get the most out of your training sessions. Good luck!
What exercises work the short head of the bicep?
Short head bicep exercises:
- Wide grip barbell curls
- Preacher Curls
- Spider Curls
- Concentration Curls
Which bicep exercises hit which head?
Most biceps exercises hit both the long head and the short head of the biceps brachii muscle. To focus more on the short head, take a supinated grip. To focus more on the long head, take a pronated grip or a neutral grip.
Do bicep curls train short head?
Bicep curls train the short head the most when you take a supinated grip! The more you focus on pushing the weight with your pinky, the more you should feel your short head working. Another option would be to take a wider grip.