Short head bicep exercises: Sculpting defined arms

Creating muscular, strong, and attractive arms involves more than just a few bicep curls. The biceps consist of two heads: the short head of the biceps and the long head of the biceps. While both contribute to bending the elbow, each head plays a distinct role in shaping the biceps.

The short head gives the bicep its height and peak, while the long head contributes to its width and density. 


By understanding the importance of these two heads, we can focus on targeted exercises to achieve a well-rounded and impressive bicep development. 

What is a short head bicep?

The short head of the bicep is one of the two main heads that make up the bicep muscle. It’s the part of your bicep located on the inside of your upper arm, closer to your body. When it comes to the aesthetics of your biceps, the short head plays a significant role.

The short head of the bicep is responsible for creating that coveted height or peak in your bicep. When you flex your arm, it’s the short head that gives your bicep that impressive, rounded appearance.

Bicep short head vs long head

The short head of the bicep is located underneath the long head on the inner arm and is what makes the arm look bigger overall. In comparison, the long head of the bicep contributes more to the peak of this muscle group.

This essentially means that if you wish to focus more on building bigger biceps, the best way is to put together a short head bicep workout.

When it comes to muscle activation it can sometimes be difficult to isolate the short head of your biceps specifically.

Due to its smaller size isolation exercises such as dumbbell concentration curls will give you the best results.

You also can include exercises such as dumbbell preacher curls on a preacher bench or a cable preacher curl, in which the elbows are extended from the body.

the long head of the biceps aids more with pushing movements whilst the short head is more for pulling motions.

Why train the short head of the biceps?

Engaging in short head bicep exercises offers several benefits for your arm development:

  1. Enhanced bicep peak: Short head bicep exercises specifically target and activate the short head muscle, which contributes to the height and peak of your bicep.
  2. Improved bicep aesthetics: When both the short head and long head are developed, it results in a balanced bicep shape, adding definition and muscularity to your arms.
  3. Increased arm strength and stability: Short head bicep exercises focus on aesthetics and contribute to functional strength and stability. By strengthening the short head, you enhance the overall power and stability of your arms can benefit activities that involve lifting, carrying and pushing.

Short head bicep exercises

Preacher curl

preacher curls are a variation of bicep curls
preacher curls are a variation of bicep curls
  • Hold the EZ curl bar at the close grip (inner handle) using an underhand grip. Your palms should be facing forward and slightly tilted inwards due to the shape of the bar.
  • Position your upper arms and chest against the preacher bench pad while holding the E-Z Curl Bar at shoulder length.
  • Use the biceps to curl the weight up until your biceps are fully contracted and the bar is at shoulder height. Squeeze the biceps hard and hold this position for a second.
  • Slowly lower the bar until your upper arm is extended and the biceps is fully stretched.
  • Repeat

Reverse curls

reverse barbell preacher curl
  • Sit at the preacher bench holding the EZ bar with an overhand grip, with your palms facing down.
  • Uncurl your biceps and lower your arms until they are extended.
  • Curl the bar towards your shoulders until your biceps are flexed.
  • Repeat.

Spider curls 

woman with chest supported on bench doing dumbbell spider curls
  • Set the incline bench at a 45° angle. Lie face-down on the inclined bench with the chest and stomach pressed against the bench, and the head placed higher than the top of the backrest.
  • Hold the dumbbells down in front and to your side.
  • Slowly curl your biceps up til the dumbbells until your elbow is totally flexed.
  • Slowly lower your arms and repeat.

*Note: Spider curls are similar to preacher curls in that your elbows are positioned in front of your body, and they are very difficult to cheat by using momentum. 

Concentration curls 

Isolation exercise that works one arm at a time.

woman doing concentration curls in a purple tank top in the gym
woman doing concentration curls in a purple tank top in the gym
  • Grab a dumbbell with your right or left hand using a supinated grip (palms facing up) and sit upright on the end of a bench.
  • Your feet should be firmly planted on the ground and spread out wide enough to where you can easily curl the dumbbell without hitting the other leg.
  • Hinge forward slightly and place your upper arm against the inside of your leg near the knee. Place your other hand on the opposite leg to provide even more support.
  • Allow your arm to fully extend (the dumbbell should not touch the floor).
  • Curl the dumbbell up towards your shoulder.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Incline dumbbell curl

incline dumbbell curl
woman doing incline dumbbell curls in the gym
  • Adjust your bench to a 45- to 60-degree incline.
  • Sit with your back flat against the bench, your abs tight and the weights by your sides (one in each hand).
  • With your palms facing up, curl the dumbbells until they reach your shoulders. Keep squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement for a full contraction.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Dumbbell hammer curl 

woman standing doing hammer curl
woman standing doing hammer curl
  • Stand with your legs straight, and knees aligned under your hips.
  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and start with them your sides, with palms faced toward you.
  • Bend at the elbow and curl the dumbbell either alternating or both at the same time.
  • Lift the lower portion of your arm towards your shoulders and curl the weight.
  • Hold for a one second at the top of the movement contracting your biceps, then release and lower your arms back to starting position.

Zottman curls

Good exercise to help improve grip strength as well

zottman curl on a preacher bench
woman in tank and black leggings doing zottman curl in the gym
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and place your upper arms on top of the preacher bench or the incline bench. The dumbbells should be held at shoulder height and the elbows should be flexed.
  • Hold the dumbbells with the palms of your hands facing down.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells keeping the palms down until your upper arm is extended and your biceps are fully stretched.
  • Rotate your wrists once you are at the bottom of the movement so that the palms of the hands are facing up.
  • Use your biceps to curl the weights up until they are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder height.
  • Squeeze the biceps hard for a second at the contracted position and rotate your wrists so that the palms are facing down again.
  • Repeat.

Chin up 

A great short head bicep exercise that works the entire body.

woman doing assisted chin ups in the gym with a resistance band
  • For assisted chin-ups or pull-ups, place a resistance band around the pull up bar.
  • Grab the bar. Place your knees or feet in the resistance band.
  • Raise yourself up in a controlled manner.
  • Slowly lower yourself.
  • Repeat.

Common mistakes people make during bicep exercises 

important tips to help you get the most out of your workouts:

Avoiding swinging or using momentum during exercises:

  • When doing bicep exercises, it’s important to avoid swinging your arms or using momentum to lift the weights.
  • Swinging can take the focus away from your biceps and put strain on other muscles or joints.
  • Instead, try to keep your movements controlled and steady, lifting the weights with the strength of your biceps. This will give you better results and reduce the risk of injury.

Importance of maintaining proper posture and alignment:

  • Good posture and alignment are key for effective and safe bicep exercises.
  • Stand up straight, keeping your shoulders back and your chest lifted during the exercises.
  • Avoid hunching over or leaning back excessively, as this can strain your back or shoulders.
  • Engage your core muscles to support your spine and maintain stability throughout the exercises.

Gradually increasing weights and intensity:

  • It’s important to gradually increase the weights and intensity of your bicep exercises over time.
  • Start with lighter weights that you can comfortably lift with proper form and technique.
  • As you get stronger and more comfortable, gradually increase the weights to challenge your muscles.
  • Pushing yourself too hard or using heavy weights can lead to injury.

For even more upper body exercises, you may like these:

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