Home Workouts Top Different Bicep Workouts: Cable or Barbell for Short and Long Heads

Top Different Bicep Workouts: Cable or Barbell for Short and Long Heads

Posted by admin in Workouts Category. Reviewed and Updated: 14 May, 2018

It is known that the bicep muscle has short and long heads. Athletes can perform some exercises that allegedly focus either on short or long heads. Is there any difference between workouts for different bicep heads? Let’s look deeper at this issue.

Description of Bicep Cable Workouts


Curls for training the bicep muscles on a cable machine belongs to the group of isolation exercises. It should be an auxiliary movement, which should be performed at the final stage of the session. This will allow you to effectively complete the muscle training. Below you will learn how to properly train the biceps with the help of cable workouts in a gym.

With strict observance of the technique of performing the movement, the main load will fall on the bicep. Movement should not be performed in the presence of injuries of the elbow joint or wrist. Biceps cable curls can be performed in a standing or sitting position, as well as in lying position. Let’s consider each of these options.

  • Overhead Cable Curl. Here is a guide on how to perform this mass-gaining exercise:
    • before the beginning of the exercise it is necessary to prepare a machine, namely you should attach the D-handle to the two cables of the machine;
    • then stand, take the handles, using a medium-grip;
    • begin to perform the exercise on inhalation, contracting the muscles of the biceps and bending the elbows, pulling the arms of the simulator toward the head;
    • when the palms take position over the deltas, you need to take a short pause and stretch your muscles with all your might;
    • on exhalation, return your arms to their original position.

Also, we can give you some useful tips for effective bicep cable workouts. Exercise is recommended to be performed simultaneously with two arms, otherwise the torso will tilt. It is better to install machine handles at 12 inches above the level of the shoulder girdle. This distance provides the optimum amplitude. The exercise should not allow the palms to unbend. You can bend your wrists closer to the top point. When performing overhead cable curl, the lower extremities, the upper parts of the arms and the corpus must remain stationary. Only due to the stable fixation of the limbs muscles of the biceps may be contracted as much as possible.

  • Standing Bicep Cable Curl. During the exercise, the upper part of the forearm, the middle and lower parts of the biceps are involved. The exercise is performed as follows:
    • the starting position is standing on the floor, the body should be turned face to the machine;
    • take a W-shaped handle and grasp it so that the palms “looked” upward;
    • straighten your elbows and pull the handle upward when inhaling;
    • when the handle is in the region of the chest, you need to contract the muscles of the biceps;
    • on exhalation, the handle should be returned to its place.
  • Lying Cable Curl. Take the straight or EZ-shaped handle attached to the bottom block with both hands with the reverse grip (palms facing up) shoulders width apart.
    • Lay down on your back, straightening and fixing your feet on the sides of the simulator.
    • Arms should be stretched out on the sides, elbows should be pressed to the trunk. Bend your arms slightly in the elbows. This will be your starting position.
    • Keep shoulders motionless, and elbows pressed to the trunk.  On exhalation, bend the arms on the biceps. The handle should be at the chest level.
    • After a short pause, slowly return your arms to their original position.
    • Perform the necessary number of repetitions.

Bicep cable curl is considered an exercise that is not recommended for beginning athletes. (More precisely, it will not bring a harm, but you cannot take all of the advantages of this exercise). It is suitable for experienced athletes, who hone the already formed muscles of the biceps. Perform exercises on the crossover is better at the end of training biceps. It is advisable to pump your arms before this, using curls with a barbell or dumbbells. Perform 3-4 sets with 10-12 repetitions. So let’s consider the most effective bicep exercise – barbell bicep curl. (You might be interested in beginner back calisthenics workouts)

Features of Barbell Bicep Workout

Barbell bicep curl is the most popular and the most effective exercise for muscles of the biceps. There are several variations of this exercise. It can be performed with a barbell (both with an ordinary and Z-shaped bar) and with dumbbells. In general, barbell bicep workout is simple.

  • Stand up straight, take the bar from below. Starting position is as follows: arms on the width of the shoulders, elbows close to the trunk.
  • Take a breath. Keeping the upper parts of the arms motionless (from the elbow to the shoulder), perform the flexion of the arms in the elbows with the force of the biceps. Only forearms should work when performing this exercise.
  • The movement should continue until the bar is at shoulder level. At the top point, it is worthwhile to stay for a while, straining the biceps.
  • On inhalation, slowly lower the barbell to its starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise as many times as necessary. We wrote about optimal number of repetitions for the bicep muscles in article about big bicep workout routine.

Top Bicep Workouts – What Athletes Most Like

According to Bodybuilding website, top bicep workouts include the following exercises with equipment:

  • Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl.
  • Incline Inner-Biceps Curl.
  • Standing Concentration Dumbbell Curl.
  • EZ-Bar Curl.
  • Wide-grip Standing Barbell Curl.
  • Zottman Curl.
  • Regular-Grip Barbell Curl.
  • Dumbbell Biceps Curl.

Short Head vs Long Head Bicep Workouts – How to Shift the Focus?

The bicep has two heads. The long head is located in the anterior outer part of the arm, starting from the upper edge of the scapula, called the joint fossa. The short head passes closer to the inside of the hand and starts also from the shoulder blade, but somewhat lower. Next, the two heads merge and enter the tuberosity of the radius bone. The main function of the biceps is the flexion of the arm in the elbow joint, so almost all exercises consist of this movement.

Joe Wuebben and Jim Stoppani write: “Since the long head of the biceps lies outside the short one, the use of a close grip (less than the width of the shoulders) during performing barbell curls shifts the focus on the long head. Conversely, a wide grip will be aimed at a short head.”

The short head of the biceps is a rise in peak amplitude and working at different angles. The long head of the biceps may be loaded with any classical exercises on the biceps with free weight.

Suppose, you made several barbell curls with a wide grip like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now it’s time to add another movement for the short head. Good options include isolation Scott bicep curl, lying cable curl, and overhead cable curl.

The Bottom Line on Short vs Long Heads And a Few Words About Us

Thus, a long head can be loaded with a classical barbell (a long head bicep workout), whereas cable exercises are good for a short head (a short head bicep workout). The width of the grip also matters.

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