Strengthening one’s arms is something that many people are interested in doing. However, because muscle groups are so complex, you can use a wide variety of exercises to strengthen the muscles in your arms. One of these muscles is the bicep, which has a long head and a short head.
Depending on what you want to achieve—more size or definition, isolation, or strength—there are different ways to exercise each head separately or together. Today, we’ll go over some great exercises to get you started as well as some useful advice on how to train your short head biceps.
What is the Short Head of the Biceps?
It’s important to comprehend the fundamentals of bicep anatomy before beginning the short head bicep exercises. I’ll also describe how the short head works and how to use certain body positions and exercises to activate it.
The “bi” in the bicep means there are two muscle heads on the front of your arm. The biceps brachii are these two muscles put together.
You can see that the short head is the inner part of the bicep and the long head is its outer part in the illustration below. The brachialis is the third muscle in addition to the two heads.
Your biceps’ height, or “peak,” is provided by their long head. The inner arm becomes thicker due to the short head. Working the short head will help fill out your sleeves if you have skinny biceps.
It can be difficult to distinguish between your inner and outer biceps in the real world. The illustration below, however, illustrates how the biceps are roughly divided into long and short heads.
Bicep Short Head Vs. Long Head
As previously mentioned, the inner arm is made up of the short head and long head biceps. Before engaging in any kind of short or long head bicep exercises, it’s important to be aware of the actual differences between them, not just in terms of where they are located but also in terms of how they function and respond to exercise.
When curling an object with your elbow bent (such as a dumbbell curl), both your short and long biceps begin to contract first. Once other muscles tire, it works hard to reduce their range of motion while assisting in further bending your elbow.
As a result, the short head doesn’t do much to help straighten out your arm; because of this, most short head bicep exercises involve shortening the arm rather than lengthening it.
Once the short head is engaged and its range of motion is reduced, the long head begins to contract, and both long and short biceps cooperate to help you further straighten your elbow.
Exercises for Short Head of Biceps
Because you are using both arms, your elbow will naturally shorten and bend during this exercise, reducing the range of motion of the short head of the bicep.
Hold a barbell with an overhand or underhand grip at shoulder width in front of you to perform this exercise. Through this exercise, you will specifically target the shorter head of the bicep. Then, while maintaining a straight back and a forward-facing posture, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it is parallel to the ground as though you were going to perform a squat, before raising yourself back up.
After performing the necessary number of repetitions, switch to the other arm while holding the first one against your lower thigh.
Another quick head exercise, but this one concentrates only on shortening the range of motion rather than also shortening and bending, as an upright row would. If working solely on reducing its range of motion is ineffective, switching to an exercise that only works the short head should be able to solve the problem. These quick head exercises include the chin-up.
Use a supinated grip (palms facing you) or an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart to perform this. Pull yourself up until your elbows are wide and your chin is above the bar, keeping your back straight the entire time. Then, lower yourself until your arms are fully extended once more.
Repeat as necessary for the required number of reps, then switch to the other arm while keeping the first one resting against your lower thigh.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
With this short head bicep exercise, you can shorten your elbow’s range of motion while also shortening your bicep. To perform this, sit on an inclined bench with a dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs.
Next, while keeping your back straight and your chest propelled forward, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it is nearly parallel to the ground, as though you were going to perform a squat, before raising yourself back up. Then, without putting the first arm down (leaving it rested against your lower thigh), switch to the other arm and repeat the exercise for the required number of reps.
Standing Dumbbell Curls
This short head bicep exercise is great for reducing the range of motion in the short head by shortening only slightly more than chin-ups would. It also reduces the range of motion by shortening and bending your elbow, similar to an upright row.
The difference is that this exercise concentrates on shortening the short head without also shortening the long head, unlike upright rows, which further reduce the range of motion of the short head. For this, maintain a straight posture while holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing inward (supinated grip).
Then, curl both arms until they are at shoulder level before lowering them back down to start the next set of reps while maintaining your elbows close to your torso and your chest propelled forward.
Supinated Grip Cable Curl
By also shortening and bending your elbow, this short head bicep exercise is great for reducing the range of motion of the short head. To do this, stand tall and hold a cable column in front of you with one hand on the handle (use an overhand grip) and the other on the curl bar itself (use a supinating grip or let your palms face forward).
Then, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground while keeping your elbows tucked close to your torso and your chest thrust forward. This position is as though you were going to squat down before standing back up and lifting both hands up toward shoulder level, keeping them close together without swinging. Then, switch hands and perform the exercise on the other side, repeating as necessary.
This short head bicep exercise is excellent for shortening the short head’s range of motion by shortening and bending your elbow as well. Sit on a bench with one leg on top and the other placed parallel to your butt to perform this.
Then, with your right elbow bent so that it points down towards your right thigh, curl your right arm until both hands are together while leaning back against the bench. Throughout, don’t let go of the handles on either arm. Before changing sides, repeat as many times as necessary.
By bending your elbow and concentrating solely on shortening the short head, this short head bicep exercise is great for reducing the range of motion of the short head.
To perform this, stand straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in (supinated grip), with the weights resting against your thighs. Then, without letting go of the top hand, curl both hands upward to shoulder level before lowering back down once more while maintaining your elbows close to your torso and your chest propelled forward.
Barbell Bicep Curl
The barbell curl is among the most popular biceps exercises. Beginners will have no trouble learning this straightforward movement. But you can also lift a lot of weight with the barbell curl to overload your biceps and cause them to grow.
Furthermore, this exercise is fantastic for strengthening the long head of the bicep. Target your inner arm by holding the object at shoulder width or slightly wider with an underhand grip.
You can also use a preacher bench to perform barbells or EZ bar curls. The bench secures your upper arms with preacher curls. As a result, you cannot benefit from momentum and are forced to follow strict formal requirements.
Your elbows are also nicely aligned in front of your body, which isolates the short head of the bicep. Again, emphasize the inner arm by using a grip that is shoulder-width or wider.
Leaning forward against an inclined bench and letting your arms hang straight down in front of you creates the spider curl variation. Then, curl the weight while keeping your upper arms parallel to the ground.
In essence, this exercise is similar to preacher curls, except that your elbows remain in front of your torso. Spider curls are harder than preacher curls, though, because of the increased load at the top of the movement caused by the body angle.
Why the Short Head Essential for Arm Strength?
The majority of your forearm’s supination strength, which you need to carry out many daily tasks, comes from the short head bicep. Having said that, short-head bicep shortening shortens the short head by reducing its range of motion without shortening the long head the way chin-ups would, but it also concentrates on shortening your elbow.
Shortening and bending your elbow, also reduces the range of motion, much like an upright row. In contrast to this exercise, which doesn’t use a concentration curl but instead focuses on engaging your brachialis and brachioradialis (forearm flexors) muscles, it concentrates on engaging both heads.
Although it’s the most powerful muscle in your arms, the short head of the bicep is frequently overlooked during workouts. There are several ways to work each head separately, depending on your goals—whether they are greater size or definition, isolation, or strength building.