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How to Train Outer Bicep: Best Exercises for Bicep Long Head

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1. Introduction

Working out your biceps is one thing, but training your outer biceps requires you to incorporate specialized motions into your workout plan.

The outer bicep is responsible for making your biceps look bigger even when you’re relaxed. One of the reasons people fail to develop their outer biceps even after doing classic biceps curls is that their muscles are not evenly worked out during exercises.

This article will help you learn how to target your outer biceps using the best exercises and workout plans you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Before jumping into exercises, you must know the biceps anatomy to understand how to target your outer biceps.

2. Structure of Biceps

Infographic required

Bicep muscles are located on the upper arm and consist of two heads, long and short heads, both of which differ in their structure and function.

  • The long or outer head forms the outer part of the biceps. It is responsible for pulling your arms away from your body. The long head is what gives biceps their width.
  • The short or inner head forms the inner part of the biceps. It is responsible for bringing your arm back towards your body. The short head is what gives biceps their peak or height.

3. Why is Training Outer Bicep Important?

Training the outer bicep is important to strengthen your arms and give them a more developed look, even without flexing.

If you look closely, your bicep peak appear developed when you flex. But if your arms are not as pronounced n’t when relaxed at your side, it means that your inner bicep is overworked and you need to work on building muscle in the outer bicep.

4. How to Target Outer Biceps?

4.1. Focus on Body Angles & Positions

The best way to target your outer bicep is to focus on your body positions and angles. The small variations in the positions of hands, elbows, and arms can greatly alter which part of the muscle is worked and the distribution of weight during the exercise.

a) Forearm Position:

The forearm position is the angle of your lower arm in relation to your body. It can greatly affect which part of the biceps is worked during exercises.

  • You work your inner biceps more when your forearm is tilted out.
  • You train your outer biceps more when your forearm is tilted in.

The width of your grasp is another factor related to the forearm position that affects which part of the biceps is worked during exercises.

  • A broader or wider grip works out the inner bicep more.
  • A closed or narrower grip works out the outer bicep more.

b) Elbow Position:

You can work out the outer biceps more when your elbows are kept behind your body.

The explanation for this has to do with where the long head is attached to the bicep. Since the long head is inserted higher up and closer to the shoulder, it is more active when your bicep is fully stretched.

c) Hand Grip:

A supinated or underhand grip (palms facing up) can work out your outer bicep headmorecompared to a pronated or overhand grip (palms facing down).

5. Best Exercises to Train Outer Biceps

Activities that engage the bicep in a fully extended position are necessary to target the outer biceps. Therefore, the best exercises for working out the outer biceps must include all of the following elements:

  • Narrow Grip
  • Palms Facing Down (pronated grip)
  • Elbows behind your body

The best bicep exercises utilizing the above-mentioned elements include:

5.1. Reverse Curls

Reverse Curls

How does it work?

Reverse curls are done with a pronated grip, which means your palms are facing down the entire time.

The participation of your inner bicep is minimized with the pronated grip, putting the majority of your weight on your outer biceps and upper forearm.

Technique to Perform:

  1. Stand straight and hold the barbell or dumbbell in both hands with palms facing down. (Pronated/overhand grip).
  2. Curl the weights up towards your chest by bending your elbows and squeezing your biceps.
  3. Pause for a second at the top and then return the weights to their original position by extending your arms.
  4. Make sure your core is engaged throughout the movement.
  5. Perform 10-12 reps.

5.2. Concentration Curls

Concentration Curls

How does it work?

Concentration curls eliminate the ability to “cheat,” ensuring that you’re only using the muscles you wish to exercise, in this case, the outer biceps.

The possibility of shifting weight upward and using momentum to do a curl is eliminated by placing your elbow on your inner thigh.

This ensures that your muscles are exerting as much weight as possible during an exercise and reaping the full benefits.

Technique to Perform:

  1. Start by sitting on the edge of a flat bench. Keep your legs apart and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold the dumbbell in one hand with an underhand grip.
  3. Place the back of your elbow on the inner side of your thigh along the side carrying the dumbbell. Rest your other hand on your opposite thigh.
  4. Bend forward and slowly curl up the weight towards your shoulders by engaging your core.
  5. Pause for a moment at the top and then lower the dumbbell to the starting position.
  6. Perform 6-12 reps, then switch sides.

5.3. Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Dumbbell Hammer Curls

How does it work?

The dumbbell hammer curl with a neutral grip works the brachioradialis muscle, which is on the outside of the bicep but also runs straight underneath it.

The neutral grip somewhat adjusts the elbow position and provides a bit more emphasis on the bicep long head.

Technique to Perform:

  1. Stand straight and hold dumbbells in both hands with a neutral grip. Keep your palms facing each other and your shoulders at the back.
  2. Slowly curl the weight in one hand towards your shoulder. Pause for a moment at the top.
  3. Then lower down the weight to the starting position by extending your arms. Repeat on the other side
  4. Perform 8-12 reps on each side.

5.4. Dumbbell Incline Curls

Dumbbell Incline Curls

How does it work?

The incline dumbbell curl is the ideal workout for targeting the outer biceps. The incline dumbbell curl makes it easier to bring your elbows behind your body rather than in front of it like in a regular curl.

This position focuses on your outer biceps by stretching your long head muscle more than your inner biceps, helping you to focus on working the outer bicep.

Technique to Perform:

  1. Sit on the incline bench at an  angle between  30-40 degrees.
  2. Hold dumbbells in both your hands at your side with an underhand grip. Keep your back straight and your core engaged.
  3. Curl the weights up towards your shoulders and chest. Make sure your palms are facing upwards.
  4. Pause for a moment at the top and then lower the weights back to your sides.
  5. Perform 10-12 reps.

5.5. Low Cable Curls

Low Cable Curls

How does it work?

The low cable curl, also known as the Bayesian Curl, is an excellent way to stretch your outer bicep head.

It is a variation of the standing cable curl where the resistance of the cable keeps pulling your arms backward. This movement places your elbows behind your back, maximizing the engagement of the long bicep head.

Technique to Perform:

  1. Stand straight while facing away from the cable machine.
  2. Hold the cable in one hand and take one step forward. You will notice that the resistance of the cable is pulling your arm backward, causing the bicep to stretch.
  3. Pull the cable forward by flexing your biceps. Make sure to keep your elbows behind your back.
  4. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement.
  5. Then lower the cable down to the starting position and repeat.
  6. Perform 8-10 reps on each side.

5.6. Barbell Drag Curl

Barbell Drag Curl

How does it work?

Drag curls are standing or seated curl variation in which you draw the weight as close to your body as possible near your armpits.

The main difference is in the elbow movement. Here the elbow is moved behind your back to maximize the tension on the outer biceps.

Technique to Perform:

  1. Stand straight with your feet apart at shoulder width. Grab the barbell in your hands with palms facing up. Rest the barbell against your thighs.
  2. Inhale and curl up the barbell by engaging your core.
  3. Make sure to bring your elbows up and back as you lift the weight. This way, you’re dragging the bar up across your chest and shoulders. 
  4. Keep lifting the barbell until it reaches your chest.  Hold that pause for a moment. 
  5. Then lower down the bar while making sure that it is in contact with your body throughout the movement.
  6. Perform 8-12 reps.

5.7. Closed Grip Barbell Curl

Closed Grip Barbell Curl

How does it work?

Another technique to move the strain onto a specific muscle head is to change your hand grip and position.

A closed grip barbell curl puts more emphasis on the outer bicep head whereas a wide grip barbell curl puts more emphasis on the inner bicep head.

Technique to Perform:

  1. Stand straight with your knees bent slightly. Grab the barbell in your hands with your palms facing up.
  2. Make sure your hand grip is narrower than the shoulder width and your shoulder blades are kept back and down.
  3. Curl up the barbell towards your shoulders by engaging your core. Keep your elbows tucked at your side and slightly behind your back.
  4. Pause for a second after reaching the top of the curl.
  5. Then lower down the barbell to the starting point and repeat.
  6. Perform 10-15 reps.

6. Beginner for Outer Bicep Workout Plan

Set 1
Exercises Reps Sets
Barbell Drag Curl 10-12 3
Concentration Curl 12 3
Close Grip Barbell Curl 10-12 3
Set 2
Exercises Reps Sets
Dumbbell Hammer Curl 8-12 3
Barbell Drag Curl 10-12 3
Dumbbell Incline Curl 10-15 3

7. Advanced Outer Bicep Workout Plan

Exercises Reps Sets
Close Grip Barbell Curl 6-10 5
Dumbbell Hammer Curl 5-10 3
Low Cable Curl 8-12 5
Dumbbell Incline Curl 10-12 3
Reverse Curl 10-15 5
Concentration Curl 15-20 3

8. Tips for Training Outer Bicep

The way you train the outer bicep head will have a big impact on how hard the muscle is pushed. When planning an outer bicep workout, keep the following tips in mind:

  • For a deeper stretch, look for a complete range of motion.
  • Concentrate on the area of the muscle that you wish to develop.
  • Incorporate both low and high-volume training methods into your workout program.
  • Vary your workouts and never exercise the same muscle for more than two days in a row.
  • For outer bicep training, aim for eight to 15 repetitions per set and six to 10 total sets throughout the week.
  • Use weights that will put you to the test.
  • Perform strength training two or three times per week.

9. Takeaways

If your outside bicep is still not growing after performing all these exercises, it’s because the long head of the bicep isn’t being exerted enough. Try focusing on your body movements and choose the position that works best for you.

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