The majority of people I speak with see the biceps as a single muscle rather than a group of muscles. And I can’t blame them as that’s an easy mistake to make. Why? For the simple reason that even a fully developed and lean biceps appears to be one single big mass of muscle.
Targeting a weak body area is as simple as dedicating a few more exercises to it, but in order to do your biceps workouts correctly and produce a good even shape, you must frequently isolate the long head and short head of the biceps muscle, or the biceps heads.
It’s imperative to focus on the biceps brachii’s short head if you desire well-defined, big biceps. And while you can’t entirely isolate the short head, you may execute certain bicep movements, which give this muscle head, which is situated on the inside of your upper arm, the greatest amount of activity.
Let me give you a quick anatomy lesson on the human body before we go on to some specific short head bicep exercises and training advice.
Biceps Muscles Anatomy
The short head and the long head of the biceps brachii are the two distinct heads that make up the biceps muscles as we are all familiar with them. Together, the short head and long head control shoulder flexion, forearm supination, elbow flexion, and other movements. The short head of the bicep, which is situated on the inner arm, adds width to your flex while the long head bicep produces the peak. In other words, the short head of the biceps connects to the long head of the biceps brachialis and makes your upper arms look very defined from the front.
The long head of the bicep brachialis runs along with the short head, but it is thinner and has a much higher peak. It’s also most obvious when you bend your arm and it almost looks like a perfect ball.
When my clients want to see how their bulking is going, I tell them not to just look at the size of their biceps heads, but also to measure the width and peak of their biceps over time.
This will tell you a lot more about how well your workout for your long and short-head biceps is working.
10 Best Short Head Biceps Exercises
Targeting the biceps’ short head is crucial for a balanced and developed appearance. Moreover, targeting the biceps’ short head might help the muscle spread out and give you a fuller-looking appearance.
The best 10 biceps workouts that specifically target the short head muscle are shown below.
1. Wide-Grip Barbell Curls
The wide-grip barbell curls are the first exercise that isolates the short head.
To maintain balance and a wide grip on the barbell held in front of you, start by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Additionally, you should aim for a broader grip width than usual so that your hands are wider than your shoulders.
As you begin the curling motion, pay close attention to fully contracting your short head muscle.
When you’ve reached the top of the movement, steadily lower the bar back down while maintaining your grip.
There should be just a tiny bend in your elbows and avoid letting them totally expand. Aim for 8 to 10 reps at most, with the final two curls being particularly difficult for your arms and short head biceps.
2. Preacher Curls
You can employ a variety of preacher curl techniques to work your inner biceps:
- Preacher curls using dumbbells
- Curls using a preacher bar
- EZ preacher curls on a bar
- Preacher cable curls
- Reverse dumbbell preacher curls
- Dumbbell hammer preacher curls
To ensure your biceps do all the effort during preacher curl workouts, keep your upper arms immobile and pressed into the angled pad. With your arms straight but not locked, begin each rep. Overextending your elbow may result in biceps damage or joint pain.
Slowly raise the weight until your forearms are vertical. Avoid bending your arm too far or your biceps may lose tension. Controlled weight reduction and a smooth transition into a subsequent rep are required.
A study from 2018 found that doing bicep curls with an EZ-Bar (an undulated bar) worked the biceps brachii and brachioradialis more than with dumbbells or a straight barbell.
3. Lying Cable Curls
When performing biceps workouts, proper form is crucial. As a result, cable curls are difficult for many beginning lifters. The muscle targeting can be changed by making slight adjustments to the apparatus’ height or moving the upper body. For a more effective bicep curl, lying cable curls take momentum and height variations out of the picture.
Link a straight bar to a cable machine with a low pulley. With your legs stretched and your feet firmly placed on either side of the cable, take a seat on the ground.
Lay on your back with your head securely resting on the floor and take a solid underhand hold of the bar.
Curl the bar forward toward your chest while keeping your elbows by your sides. In the same way as you would with a standing curl, pause and tighten at the peak of the movement.
Return to the starting position in a deliberate, controlled move. Maintain a modest bend in the elbow joint and avoid locking out at the bottom. This should be considered a rep.
You can press the weight with lying cable curls, which helps avoid “cheat reps” obtained by momentum.
4. Cable Rope Hammer Curls
Quite understandably, most people think of cable rope hammer curls as a biceps brachialis exercise. However, the neutral hand position is a great technique to target the short head of your biceps while simultaneously increasing brachialis activation.
This exercise is a useful bit of a bonus because it will both thicken your biceps and bulk up your forearms.
5. Concentration Curls
You should begin the concentration curls by sitting straight on a chair or exercise bench with your feet flat on the floor and your knees wide.
Holding a dumbbell with the weight hanging down, place your elbow on your inner thigh.
Look down at your biceps while leaning a little forward in your posture. Pull the weight up gradually, focusing on getting your biceps as pumped as possible.
After that, lower the weight down and perform the motions again.
The short head biceps will benefit greatly from the concentrated attention on the weight in your hand grip and focus on one muscle (hence the name concentration curls).
6. Spider Curls
Due to the arms’ altered angle, the preacher curls and spider curls have a comparable impact.
You’ll require an incline bench with ankle pads so you can secure yourself.
Leaning your upper body against the backrest with your belly, adjust the bench’s tilt to around 45 degrees.
Starting with an underhand grip on the dumbbells, let your arms dangle freely before curling the weights up without letting your elbows flare out.
Because the long head bicep won’t be carrying as much pressure, you would notice that this variation of the incline dumbbell curls engages the short head bicep muscles fairly differently.
The short head of your biceps can be worked out well with chin-ups, but you must maintain a narrow grip.
When you use a wider grip, your shoulders and back will be doing the majority of the effort, which is a workout for another day.
With your palms facing inward and spaced just a few inches apart, hang from a pull-up bar.
Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar, then slowly and steadily lower yourself back down.
When you are able to do ten chin-ups, add a weighted vest to mix things up.
8. Reverse Curls
The key to these biceps workouts is how you grip the bars, whether you use a standard barbell, an EZ bar, or dumbbells.
The reverse curls are performed by beginning with a pronated grip on the bar as opposed to an underhand grip.
Basically, you’ll have a grasp with your shoulders apart and your palms facing down.
The weight is coiled in the same manner as usual by gradually bringing it to your chest and then lowering the weight in your arms back down.
Always concentrate on using the entire range of motion when performing this biceps exercise, a variation of the bicep curl, to ensure that you put as much stress as possible on your shoulder blade and upper arm muscles.
9. Hammer Curls WIth Dumbbells
Once more, an exercise that many people believe exclusively targets the long head of the biceps Yes, hammer curls primarily target the long head of the biceps brachii, but they also train the brachioradialis, brachialis, and short head of the biceps brachii.
Primary: Long Head of the Biceps Brachii
Secondary: Short Biceps Head Brachioradialis, Brachii, and Brachialis
The hammer curl is a really simple approach to slightly alter your dumbbell grip and have a significantly different strain placed on your short head of the biceps as a result.
With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. The palms of the dumbbells should be facing each other while you hold them firmly to the side of your body.
This workout, a bicep curl variation, is named because it feels like you’re gripping a hammer.
Curl your arms now, keeping a shoulder-width grip, and focus on developing your short head biceps.
10. Zottman Curls
Zottman curls are a hybrid exercise that takes the best parts of dumbbell curls, reverse curls, and rope hammer curls and puts them all together. When done right, this intense upper arm workout will help you build big biceps with just one compound move.
With the basic Zottman curl, your biceps and forearms both get worked out. When you do a Zottman curl on a preacher bench, the focus moves to your biceps, which are worked from different angles. However, your forearms still get a good workout.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing away from you while sitting on the preacher bench. Slowly lower the weights until your arms are fully stretched out. Then, turn your hands so that the palms face you and curl the weights back up to your shoulders.
Why You Should Train The Short Head Of Biceps
If you want well-defined, full, thick biceps that look great from the front, you need to make sure that when you do bicep exercises, your short head is being used.
Same thing with the long head. If you want your bicep to have a high peak, you also need to work on your long head.
From the front and the side, your arms will look great together. Plus, your strength will be better when you do big compound exercises or other physical activities. After all, having strong, well-developed biceps isn’t just for looks, right?
By training your biceps in a way that works both the long and short heads, you will make the most of your genetics and allow your arms to grow as big and strong as they can.
If you don’t have a good mind-muscle connection, it doesn’t matter how many sets and reps you do or how often you hit your biceps. Also, it doesn’t matter much what kind of exercises you do. To build your biceps, you must be able to fully contract them and stretch them in the right way.
If you want to have the most aesthetic body possible, you can’t have any weak spots. Doing more work on the inner part of the biceps could be the difference between building good arms and building GREAT arms.
With these 10 best short head biceps exercises, you can start to change up your routine and see your arms get stronger right before your eyes.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.