The 14 Best Short Head Biceps Exercises | Short Head Bicep Exercise Workout
The 14 Best Exercises to Target Your Biceps Short Head for Bigger Gains
Want to build mountain peak biceps that pop? Most guys focus biceps training on basic curls, hammering their long head and neglecting the short head. This leaves the coveted biceps peak underdeveloped.
That’s a mistake, as both heads must be trained for fully peaked guns.
So I’ve put together the ultimate guide on the best short head bicep exercises, along with tips to program them into your routine. Read on to start carving out a spectacular set of upper arms.
The biceps brachii muscle has two heads:
- Long Head: Makes up the lower two-thirds of the biceps along the inner arm. visible from the front and side.
- Short Head: Makes up the upper one-third and outer biceps. Gives the biceps their characteristic “peaked” look when developed. Visible from the front and back.
While you can’t completely isolate the short head, certain exercises emphasize it more than others.
Choosing moves that work the short head through its ideal range of motion is key.
In this guide you’ll discover:
- How the short head functions and its role in biceps growth
- The 14 best short head bicep exercises
- Expert tips to target your short head for shocking new biceps gains
- The best rep range, number of sets, and weekly frequency
- How to incorporate short head moves into your current split
Let’s start with what the short head is, how it works, and why you need to train it.
Anatomy and Function of the Biceps Short Head
The biceps brachii crosses two joints in the upper arm:
- Shoulder Joint: The long head originates here before joining the short head mid-arm
- Elbow Joint: Both heads insert at the radius bone of the forearm
This double-joint attachment allows the muscle to flex the elbow and rotate the forearm as you curl and chin.
Now, the biceps don’t work alone. They team up with the brachialis muscle underneath to produce powerful elbow flexion.
So what does each biceps head actually do?
The Long Head:
- Originates at the shoulder socket
- Helps stabilize and protect the shoulder joint
- Plays a small role in shoulder flexion
The Short Head:
- Originates along the corocoid process near the shoulder
- Produces pure elbow flexion as you curl
- Plays the biggest role in the biceps peak by popping up highest on the arm
See, the short head’s job is simple: curl weight! No shoulder tasks get in the way.
This means the short head serves as your prime elbow flexor for building biceps size from curls. And it responds better to higher rep ranges that leave the long head fatigued.
Let’s move on to the bread and butter of this guide...
The 14 Best Exercises for Your Biceps Short Head
I’ve assembled top biceps trainers and bodybuilders to compile this ultimate short head exercise list.
While no move can 100% isolate the upper biceps peak, these come closest to emphasizing the short head over the long head.
1. Incline Dumbbell Curl
Lie back on an incline bench set to 30-45 degrees. Keep feet planted and core braced.
Hold dumbbells by your sides with elbows fully extended and palms facing forward.
Flex elbows and curl dumbbells to shoulders, squeezing biceps hard at the top. Lower slow.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 8-12
Why it targets the short head: The incline bench keeps shoulders stable so you can better isolate the concentrated curl motion.
And the 30-45 degree incline falls directly in line with the short head’s ideal training angle.
2. Drag Curl
Stand holding dumbbells with palms facing thighs. Keep arms extended and elbows by your sides.
Initiate the curl by raising elbows up while lowering hands. Continue curling until dumbbells reach shoulders and elbows point down.
Slowly lower back to start. This creates a dragging motion up the torso.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 8-12
Why it targets the short head: Limiting shoulder and torso movement directs tension straight to the elbow flexors. Flaring elbows outward also hits more outer short head fibers.
3. Cross Body Hammer Curl
Stand holding dumbbells by sides with elbows fully extended. Rotate wrists inward so left palm faces right thigh and vice versa.
Flex right elbow and curl dumbbell across body to left shoulder, hammer grip style. Squeeze biceps hard then lower back down. Repeat each arm.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 8-12
Why it targets the short head: The deep shoulder rotation combined with crossing body enhances short head activation by limiting long head involvement.
4. Seated Concentration Curl
Sit on bench. Clasp right elbow inside thigh with dumbbell hanging below knee. Place left hand on right shoulder.
Keeping upper arm stationary, fully flex elbow and curl dumbbell to shoulder. Squeeze biceps hard then reverse motion. Repeat each arm.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 8-12
Why it targets the short head: Bracing elbow against leg keeps shoulders and torso stabilized for true isolated elbow flexion using just the lower arms. Short head burns while the long head rests.
5. Standing Zottman Curl
Stand holding dumbbells by sides, palms facing thighs, elbows extended.
Initiating from elbows, flex and curl weights to shoulders with palms up grip. At the top, rotate wrists down so palms face forward.
Reverse motion, lowering weights with palms down grip. Twist wrists back to palms up at bottom.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 8-12
Why it targets the short head: The internal forearm rotation at the top demands an extra contraction from the biceps peak. The eccentric lowering also stretches the short head for more growth.
6. Wide Grip Barbell Curl
Stand holding a barbell with an extra wide overhand grip, palms facing forward. Keep arms extended by sides, knees slightly bent.
Initiating the move from elbows, flex and curl bar towards upper chest. Squeeze biceps hard.
Slowly lower bar back to hanging arms extended position.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 8-12
Why it targets the biceps: The wide grip forces your hands outside shoulder width so elbow flexion occurs in the transverse plane. This hits the outer biceps head you want for that coveted peak!
7. Dumbbell Spider Curl
Sit at end of bench. Place forearms flat, elbows bent 90 degrees. Palms face up.
Flex elbows and curl hands towards shoulders while shifting torso back. Squeeze biceps hard then reverse motion sitting upright.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 10-15
Why it targets the short head: Keeping forearms stationary removes shoulder and wrist movement for strict elbow flexion. Leaning back hits the short head sweet spot.
8. Reverse EZ Bar Curl
Grasp bottom of EZ curl bar with underhand palms up grip about hip-width. Keep arms extended in front of thighs.
Initiating from elbows, flex and curl bar to upper chest. Squeeze biceps then reverse back down.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 10-15
Why it targets the short head: Supinating forearms outward shifts tension towards outer biceps. It also elongates the short head for constant tension.
9. Machine Preacher Curl
Sit in preacher bench placing upper arms across sloped pad. Grab machine handles next to shoulders.
Keeping upper arms fixed, curl handles towards shoulders. Squeeze biceps then slowly lower back.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 10-15
Why it targets the short head: Preacher benches isolate elbow movement for strict short head training. The seated stance also removes body swings common with standing curls.
10. Crucifix Curl
Stand between two high pulleys. Grasp handles next to ears with palms forward and arms bent 90 degrees.
Initiating from elbows, flex and curl hands to shoulders. Squeeze biceps then reverse motion back to ears.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 12-20
Why it targets the short head: Crucifix curls isolate the crucially important outer biceps fibers using constant tension cables. Feel that short head burn!
11. Hammer Preacher Curl
Sit in a slanted preacher bench. Grasp dumbbells and lay upper arms across pad. Palms face inwards.
Flex elbows and curl weights to shoulders, keeping palms facing each other. Squeeze biceps then lower back.
Sets: 3-4, Reps: 12-20
Why it targets the short head: Zero shoulder rotation allows elbow flexors to fully take over. Hammer grip shifts stress to outer biceps bellies.
12. Cable Curl Drop Set
Attach straight bar to low pulley. Stand sideways grabbing close grip with elbows fully extended.
Curl bar to chest, squeezing biceps hard. Return 3/4ths down then quickly reduce weight 10-20 pounds. Repeat mini drop set burnout 2-3 times.
Sets: 2, Rep Set Drops: 3
Why it targets the short head: Drop sets bring elbow flexors past failure by depleting stored energy. And partial reps target the steeper short head curve. Killer!
13. Rope Hammer Curl
Stand between cables grasping rope attachment. Keep elbows extended by sides, knuckles facing up, and palms facing each other.
Flex elbows and curl ropes together to chest height. Squeeze biceps hard then reverse motion.
Sets: 2-3, Reps: 15-20
Why it targets the short head: Rope curls let you supinate wrists fully inward to hit the outer biceps sweep. Constant tension also torches elbow flexors.
14. TRX Biceps Curl
Secure feet while grasping TRX handles with an underhand grip.
Lean body back at a 45 degree angle with arms extended in front and a straight line from shoulders through hands.
Initiating the move from elbows, flex and curl hands to shoulders by retracting shoulder blades back and down. Squeeze biceps hard.
Slowly reverse the motion back to the start position.
Sets: 1-2, Reps: 20-30
Why it targets the biceps: Suspension training removes momentum so you curl strictly from the elbows without swinging. The inclined body angle also places constant tension on the biceps muscle group. Go high rep at the end of arm day for an intense short head burn!
There you have it - 14 killer exercises proven to light up your stubborn short head for otherworldly biceps peaks.
Now let’s move on to...
Expert Tips to Program Short Head Training
Simply hammering endless sets of cable curls each week won’t cut it. You need to strategically program short head moves.
Here are pro tips to incorporate these exercises into your current split:
Emphasize the Short Head Twice Per Week
Hitting biceps once a week usually involves heavy long head work. Add a second lighter day emphasizing the short head with higher volume.
- Day 1: Heavy long head work
- Day 2: High volume short head pumps
Train Short Head Prior to Long Head
Fatigue the short head first when training biceps. This allows you to go heavier on long head basics afterwards when elbow flexors are freshest.
Use a Variety of Angles
Don’t rely solely on standing curls. Use inclines, declines, unilateral moves, and machines regularly to hit the short head from multiple angles.
Include Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Techniques
Pre-exhaust with isolation moves like spider curls before compound lifts like chin ups. This fatigues elbow flexors first so they fail before shoulders and back tire.
You can also post-exhaust at the end of arm day with high rep short head exercises after heavy compound work.
Best Sets, Reps and Frequency for Short Head Hypertrophy
Here are the recommended training variables:
Higher volume short head training produces superior muscle growth compared to strength rep ranges.
Weekly Frequency: 2x
Hit short head exercises twice per week:
- Day 1: Heavy long head compounds
- Day 2: High rep short head isolation
This gives the optimum blend of mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage for shocking biceps growth.
Let’s finish with...
The Best Short Head Biceps Workout
Here’s a sample workout using the optimal sets, reps and weekly frequency that will ignite new biceps peak growth:
Day 1: Long Head Dominant
1A) Weighted Chin Up - 4 sets x 5 reps 1B) EZ Bar Curl - 4 sets x 6 reps
2A) Barbell Curl - 4 sets x 8 reps 2B) Incline Bench Bodyweight Curl - 1 set x 20 reps
Day 2: Short Head Hypertrophy
- Spider Curl - 4 sets x 12 reps
- Hammer Preacher Curl - 4 sets x 15 reps
- Overhead Cable Curl - 4 sets x 20 reps
- Rope Hammer Curl drop set - 2 triple drops
This trains the long head heavy on Day 1, then destroys the short head with higher volume isolation work on Day 2.
In just a few weeks you’ll see mighty biceps peaks emerging as the stubborn short head is forced to new growth.
Now Go Carve Eye-Popping Biceps Peaks!
If you’re after next level biceps, the short head can no longer be neglected. Use these 14 best short head exercises combined with smart programming techniques to construct shredded upper arm crowns.
Just be ready for some seriously stretchy sleeved t-shirts when those biceps peaks push through!
FAQ Section on Biceps Training
What is the Bicep?
The bicep is a major muscle group in the upper arm, known for its role in arm flexion and rotation. It consists of two heads: the long head and the short head, each contributing to the overall shape and function of the bicep muscle.
What are Bicep Exercises?
Bicep exercises are workouts specifically designed to target the biceps muscle. These exercises often involve arm curls and are essential for building bicep strength and size.
What is the Short Head of the Biceps?
The short head of the biceps is part of the bicep muscle located on the inner side of the arm. It plays a crucial role in the overall appearance and function of the biceps.
How Can I Exercise the Short Head of My Biceps?
To specifically target the short head of your biceps, you can perform exercises like bicep curls with a focus on muscle activation in the inner part of your arm.
What are the Best Short Head Bicep Exercises?
The best exercises for the short head of the biceps include concentration curls and preacher curls. These isolation exercises effectively target the short head, enhancing muscle activation and growth.
How Do I Achieve the Best Biceps?
Achieving the best biceps involves a combination of exercises that work both the long and short head. This includes a mix of compound and isolation exercises, along with proper nutrition and rest.
What Exercises Work the Short Head of the Biceps?
Exercises that effectively work the short head of the biceps include hammer curls and concentration curls, which specifically target the inner part of the bicep.
What are Some Effective Biceps Exercises?
Effective biceps exercises include the biceps curl, hammer curl, and preacher curl. These exercises vary in muscle activation and can be adjusted for intensity and focus.
What is the Importance of the Short Head of the Bicep?
The short head of the bicep is crucial for the overall aesthetics of the arm, contributing to the bicep's peak and inner fullness. It also aids in arm flexion and stability.
How to Perform a Bicep Curl?
To perform a bicep curl, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended. Curl the weights while keeping your elbows close to your torso, then slowly lower back down.
How to Target the Short Head of the Biceps?
To target the short head of the biceps, choose exercises like preacher curls and concentration curls, which isolate this part of the muscle.
What is the Biceps Brachii?
The biceps brachii is the full name of the biceps muscle, encompassing both the long and short head. It's a key muscle for arm flexion and forearm rotation.
What Constitutes a Good Bicep Workout?
A good bicep workout includes a variety of exercises that target both the long and short head of the biceps, ensuring balanced development and strength.
What are the Best Bicep Exercises?
The best bicep exercises include the biceps curl, hammer curl, and chin-up. These exercises provide comprehensive bicep development and strength.
What are the Best Exercises for the Short Head of the Biceps?
The best exercises for the short head of the biceps include concentration curls and preacher curls, focusing on the inner part of the bicep.
What is the Anatomy of the Biceps?
The anatomy of the biceps includes two heads: the long head and the short head. These heads work together to control arm movements and contribute to the overall shape of the biceps.
What is the Best Training for Biceps?
The best training for biceps involves a mix of compound and isolation exercises, along with adequate rest and nutrition for muscle recovery and growth.
Which Exercise is Best for Biceps?
The best exercise for biceps depends on your goals. Compound exercises like chin-ups are great for overall development, while isolation exercises like bicep curls focus on specific muscle activation.
Growing My Biceps with Targeted Training
I used to just do basic barbell curls every arm day. My biceps grew, but that coveted peak was missing. A buddy noticed and suggested I start targeting the biceps short head with isolation exercises. So I programmed them in and saw great results.
Discovering the Best Biceps Exercises
I researched the muscle anatomy to understand how the short and long heads work. The long head originates at the shoulder while the short head causes that iconic biceps peak. I needed to train them both but emphasize the short head.
Tailoring My Biceps Routine
I incorporated curl variations like spider curls, preacher curls, and cable curls targeting the outer biceps belly. Combined with chin ups working the long head, my arm workouts now hit the muscle from multiple angles.
Seeing Shocking New Biceps Growth
After a few weeks my inner biceps and overall mass grew from heavy chin ups. And those high rep isolation exercises built visible, shredded peaks. Now the short and long heads pop as separate mounds.
Get this - last week a dude in the locker room saw my "biceps brachii" and asked what exercises I do. I proudly rattled off my best short head moves. Who would've thought focused training could sculpt a weak point so dramatically!
So try tailoring your own routine if you want bigger, rounder biceps with head-turning peaks. The short head truly takes arms to the next level!
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PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Bicep Training Guides: