Outer Bicep Workouts: 5 Exercise Examples

5 exercise examples outer bicep workouts
 

If you want your biceps to look big even when you’re relaxed, then the outer bicep is an area that you need to specifically focus on.

 

The best outer bicep exercises are the dumbbell hammer curl, concentration curl, incline dumbbell curl, narrow grip barbell curl, and barbell drag curl. Also, include technique modifications to further target the outer bicep like ensuring your elbows are behind your body and narrowing your grip width. 

 

Bicep exercises are one thing, but to target the outer biceps, you need to implement specific movements into your workout. In this article, we’ll go through a more in-depth explanation of the exercises and tips so you can put it in your own workout. 

 


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Anatomy and Function of the Bicep

 

The bicep is located on the arm and consists of two heads: bicep long head and bicep short head. The long head and the short head both have different functions and specific exercises can help grow them. 

 

A way to know whether you’ve developed both heads evenly is to compare how your arms and biceps look when they’re flexed or relaxed. Most people can see their biceps muscles more when flexed, which is your inner bicep, the part of the arm that is closest to your body. However, if you really want your biceps to pop even when your arms are relaxed, then that’s the outer bicep that you need to work on. 

So, what does each part of the bicep do?  

 

While the short head helps to adduct the arm, that is, bring the arm back towards your centerline, the outer bicep works the opposite way. It works to abduct your arm and pull it away from your centreline. 

 

It also assists in rotating your arm inwards. When you want to bend your arm though, that’s when both the short and long head bicep muscles work together to result in a flex. The outer bicep also functions simultaneously with your short head bicep to support the humeral head in the shoulder joint. 

 

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to be focusing on the long head, that is, the outer biceps and the exercises that you can do to make them bigger.

5 Outer Bicep Exercises

 

The 5 Best Outer Bicep Exercises Are: 

 

  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls

  • Concentration Curls

  • Incline Dumbbell Curl

  • Narrow Grip Barbell Curls

  • Barbell Drag Curls

1.  DUMBBELL HAMMER CURLS


Dumbbell Hammer Curls.jpg

 

  • Grab two dumbbells of equal weight and hold one in each hand. Your arms and hands should be by your side, with your palms facing your body. This is what differentiates a dumbbell hammer curl to a dumbbell bicep curl. 

  • Brace your core and keep your shoulders back. Curl both dumbbells up simultaneously.

  • At the top of the movement, pause for a moment. 

  • In a controlled motion, uncurl the bar and return to the starting position.

  • Repeat.

Notes: This exercise can be executed by curling the dumbbells at the same time as we instructed, or alternatively, you can also do it one arm at a time (e.g. left arm then right arm, back to left and repeat). This is the easier version because then you can focus your strength on one arm instead of two at the same time.  However, both are effective ways to do this exercise.

2. CONCENTRATION CURLS


Concentration Curls.jpg

 

Some people ‘cheat’ when they curl by using their body and a swinging motion for momentum to get the bar up. It can be difficult not to, especially when you want to lift the most weight you can. However, with any exercise you do, you can only maximize your efforts if you do them properly and without taking shortcuts. That way, you can get the full benefits. With concentration curls, it takes the ability to ‘cheat’ out of the equation so you can be sure that you’re only using the muscles you’re supposed to be using, in this case, the outer bicep.

 

  • Sit on the edge of a flat bench with your legs apart, feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in one hand in an underhand grip. With the side that’s holding the dumbbell (the working side), place the back of your elbow on the inner side of your thigh. Your other hand can be supported on your other thigh.

     

  • Lean forward and engage your core.

     

  • Curl the dumbbell up, take a moment at the top to pause

     

  • Lower the dumbbell down.

     

  • Repeat.

 

Notes: By placing your elbow on your inner thigh, it eliminates your ability to swing the weight up and use momentum to perform the curl. This way, you can be sure that your muscles are actually carrying the entire weight of the movement and you’re getting the full benefits.

 

3. INCLINE DUMBBELL CURL


Incline Dumbbell Curl.jpg

 

  • Sit on an incline bench that’s set at a 45 or 60-degree angle. However, experiment as you do this movement to find the best angle for you. Make sure that your back is straight and your core is engaged. Hold both your dumbbells in each hand by your side in an underhand grip.

     

  • Curl both dumbbells up simultaneously towards your chest and shoulders. Your palms should be facing upwards. 

     

  • Hold the top position for a second.

     

  • In a controlled movement, slowly lower the weight back down to your sides.

     

  • Repeat.

 

Notes: The incline assists in getting your arms behind your body, instead of in front of it like a normal curl. This position targets your outer biceps, stretching your long head muscle more than your inner bicep so you can really emphasise this area.

 

4. NARROW GRIP BARBELL CURLS


Narrow Grip Barbell Curls.jpg

 

  • Stand with your knees slightly bent, holding a barbell in an underarm grip so your palms are facing up. Ensure that your grip is slightly closer than what you typically would have it. A good starting point is marginally narrower than shoulder-width.

     

  • Engage your core, making sure it’s nice and tight. Keep your shoulder blades back and down. Curl the bar up towards your chest. Ensure that your elbows remain tucked in your side and it doesn’t flare out. Also, make sure that it remains slightly behind your body.

     

  • After you reach the top of the curl, pause for a moment.

     

  • Slowly lower the bar down.

     

  • Repeat. 

 

Notes: Sometimes, adjusting your grip width can actually be all you need to focus more on your outer bicep than on your inner one. In this case, bringing your neutral grip in to make it a narrow grip can change the focus from inner to outer bicep. In this exercise, we talk about your classic barbell curl but ensure that you have a narrow grip.

 

5. BARBELL DRAG CURLS


Barbell Drag Curls.jpg

 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the barbell, resting against your thighs, in an underhand grip so your palms are facing up. 

     

  • Take a deep breath in and engage your core. Then, curl the bar up as you would a barbell curl. However, in this exercise, bring your elbows back and up as you do so (your elbows will go behind your body), so you’re essentially dragging the bar up across your stomach and chest.

     

  • Keep curling and dragging the bar until you reach chest height.

     

  • Pause for a second.

     

  • Lower the bar down, ensuring that the bar is in contact with your body the entire way down.

     

  • Repeat.

 

Notes: To begin with, use a lighter weight than what you’d naturally do with a barbell curl. This is because instead of merely curling the bar up, you’re dragging it up across your body. However, as with the narrow grip barbell curls, the barbell drag curls can also be done with an EZ bar.

 


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Sample Outer Bicep Workouts


Sample Outer Bicep Workouts.jpg

 

Here are two sample workouts that you can utilise in your fitness routine so you can focus on your long head bicep. The numbers after each exercise are sets x reps. 

 

Related Article:  What Are The Best Rep Ranges For Arm Workouts?

SAMPLE WORKOUT 1

  • Incline dumbbell curls – 3×8-10

  • Barbell drag curls – 3×10-12

  • Dumbbell hammer curls – 3×10-12

SAMPLE WORKOUT 2

  • Concentration Curls – 3×10-12

  • Narrow grip barbell curls – 3×12

  • Barbell drag curls – 3×10-12

 

If you would like more outer bicep workouts, then check out the FitBod app. FitBod generates a training plan that is specific to your goal. So if big and strong arms—even while relaxed—is what you want, then download the app and get started today!

 

You can do these exercises as one workout in itself or include them in between other exercises on your upper body day. Another good idea is to also use them as one half of a superset with an opposing muscle group, like your triceps, so you can have more rest in between for each muscle group and be able to attack your working set more vigorously. 

 

Related Article:  Should You Train Chest And Triceps Together?

 

Final Notes

 

These exercises recommended to you in this article are workouts that specifically target that outer bicep, long head area. It’s a good idea to include these focused movements into your fitness routine, especially if you have trouble growing the long head bicep or want to do more to grow them. By doing so, you should be able to see wider and thicker-looking biceps, flexed or relaxed.


About The Author


Emily Trinh

Emily Trinh

 

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.