Focus Physique
Targeting the Bicep Heads for Big Biceps

Building the Biceps to Your Preference

The great thing about physique building is that you have the power to build certain muscles to mold and develop your physique into the aesthetic you want! Throughout this article, we will cover the two bicep heads, the brachialis muscle, what you need to do to target each to reach your desired aesthetic goal, and ultimately how to build big biceps!

The Two Bicep Heads

As the title implies, there are two separate muscles of the bicep, the long head and the short head. Together, the entirety of the muscle is called the biceps brachii.

The primary function of the bicep muscle is commonly thought to be flexion at the elbow joint. This is actually not true, the primary function of the bicep muscle is to supinate the wrist, or to turn the palm of the hand upward towards the ceiling!

This is important to know for an understanding of why certain exercises hit the biceps in a specific manner. More on this later.

I also want to quickly note that proper, specific training will make a difference in your bicep peak, thickness, and overall size. Genetics although, largely will determine whether or not you’ll have sky high peaks or boulder biceps, but anyone can build big biceps!

Long Head

This is the head of the bicep that is the main contributor to the visible peak of the bicep. It’s located on the lateral side of the arm, or on the outside, away from the center of the body.

Short Head

The short head of the bicep adds to bicep thickness from a frontal view. It’s the medial head of the bicep beside the long head meaning it’s closer to the center of the body.

Brachialis Muscle

The brachialis muscle is technically not one of the bicep heads and lies underneath the biceps. The main function of this muscle is elbow flexion. The reason you will want to develop this muscle is because the bigger it gets, the more it actually pushes up your biceps, especially in the lower part of the bicep! Depending on if your genetics make them visible, it also makes a for a fuller more muscular appearance to the arm.

Anatomy of the bicep heads (long head and short head) and the brachialis muscle.
Closest to the chest is the short head. The muscle in the middle is the long head. On the outside is the brachialis.


Recommended Training Approach

Although there is limited research on the muscle fiber type distribution of the brachialis muscle, there is consistent research stating that the biceps are made up of more fast twitch muscle fibers than slow twitch muscle fibers, but only slightly. The biceps on average are about 55% fast twitch muscle fibers for reference. Considering most muscles of the upper body are fast twitch dominant, the same may stand for the brachialis.

So, what does this all mean in layman’s terms?

This means that naturally the biceps are more on the strength than endurance side of performance. It’s important to know general muscle fiber distribution because it’s a representation of how the muscle functions. You wouldn’t use the same training approach for your calves on your biceps.

This means a training approach with slightly lower reps may be more effective for the biceps than consistently training in a rep range of something like 12-15. 6-10 reps may make a better approach to training on a consistent basis compared to consistently training in 12-20.


Targeting the Bicep Heads and the Brachialis

We now know the anatomy, function, and recommended rep range. Now, let’s look into how to target each muscle and great biceps exercises to do so for big biceps.

It’s also important to note that you can’t target only one head or muscle, but you can emphasize one over the other.

Targeting the Long Head

Exercises that either have your curling with the elbows behind the body or with a narrow grip will put an emphasis on the long head of the bicep.

A great and often forgotten exercise to hit the long head is the drag curl.

How to do a Drag Curl

You will need a barbell for this exercise. Grip the barbell with your hands right beside your body. From here, you’re going to curl the bar while keeping it as close to your body as possible. When done properly, you should be able to go through a full range of motion all while keeping it as close to your body as possible. They’re weird at first, but a great exercise you’ll get the hang of quickly! For a good instructional video look here.

Proper drag curl form, a forgotten long head bicep exercise to build the bicep peak.
During the drag curl, you will want to keep the barbell as close to your body as possible.


Targeting the Short Head

Exercises with a wide grip or with the arms in front of the body will place more of an emphasis on the short head of the bicep.

The preacher curl is a great exercise for this! I also love the constant tension it forces you to keep on the muscle. Since your arm is angled, there is always tension on the bicep which always make for a killer exercise!

How to do a Preacher Curl

A preacher curl can be done with multiple pieces of equipment although it is commonly done with a curl bar or dumbbells. With your chosen piece of equipment, you’ll want to put your upper arms on the preacher curl pad. Starting with the dumbbells up, you’ll want to lower them controlled through a full range of motion and curl up strong.

Proper preacher curl form to target the short head of the bicep.
Proper preacher curl form.


Targeting the Brachialis

The brachialis is best targeted with a neutral grip during a curling motion. The hammer curl is an example of a classic and extremely effective brachialis exercise! Brachialis targeted exercises are also fun because you will be slightly stronger on them considering the main function of the brachialis is elbow flexion!

How to do a Hammer Curl

Hammers curls are commonly done with dumbbells although a variation can be done on a pulley machine. With your chosen weight, you’re simply going to curl the weight with a neutral grip.

Proper hammer curl form will target the brachialis muscle.
Proper hammer curl form.


Final Bicep Building Thoughts

Knowing the way to target bicep heads and brachialis allows you to implement exercises in your routine that will help you to reach your aesthetic goal. For accelerated bicep growth, a training frequency of 2-3 times per week is recommended. It also helps to add other bicep stimulating exercises such as an exercise like the underhand grip bent over row to bring up the biceps.

Building big biceps is very doable and of a course a contributor to a fully developed powerful physique. With your new knowledge, you now have a direction to take your bicep training in the quest of your perfect physique!

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About Brennen Elboeck

I'm Brennen, the founder of I want to give hundreds of thousands of people science based, practical physique and life transforming information! To never miss a post or what's new make sure to sign up for our newsletter above!

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