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What Head Do Concentration Curls Work? (Long or Short)

If you’re wondering whether concentration curls work the short or long head, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we look at which bicep head concentration curls work, how to target each head more throughout the exercise, as well as looking at the anatomy of your biceps and which other muscles play a part in the movement.

Which Bicep Head Do Concentration Curls Work?

There seems to be some conflicting information out there about which bicep head concentration curls actually work. 

Concentration curls predominantly work the long head of your biceps.

If you think back to Arnold Schwarzenegger performing them, it makes sense that the exercise focuses on the peak-building element of the muscle.

Arnold would need his biceps to look as big as possible for bodybuilding competitions. So, it’s logical that he would be performing exercises (like concentration curls) that help with this.

How To Target The Long Head More During Concentration Curls

As concentration curls focus on the long head of your biceps, the best way to get the most from the exercise is to master the technique.

You should perform concentration curls at a reasonably slow pace to keep the working muscles under tension for longer.

This will help build and develop the long head very well.

As long as you’re lifting an appropriate weight and using the correct technique, concentration curls can be a highly effective long head (peak) building exercise.

How To Target The Short Head More During Concentration Curls

Although concentration curls focus on the long head of your biceps, you can bring the short head into play a bit more with a small change to the movement.

Adding a combination of flexion and supination to concentration curls increases short head activation.

The easiest way of adding these into concentration curls is by starting with a neutral grip (palms facing your body) at the lowest part of the movement and rotating into a supinated grip (palms facing up) as you move to the highest part.

As your working arm is supported by your leg during concentration curls, your bicep is pretty well isolated.

Changing the movement to include a rotation will not change the exercise enough to shift the focus elsewhere other than your biceps.

It will simply move some of the activation required from the long head to the short head.

Spider curls work the short head, so if you want to work your short head, you should include these in your arm workouts.

What Other Muscles Do Concentration Curls Work?

Although concentration curls are an isolation exercise that are very much focused on your biceps, other muscles are involved in the movement to varying degrees. 

As your arm moves through the full range of movement, your triceps activate at certain points.

Your brachialis also activates – this is the muscle underneath your biceps and helps flex your elbow.

Another muscle that activates during concentration curls is your brachioradialis which is one of your forearm muscles.

Your biceps certainly benefit the most from concentration curls, but when done properly, they’re actually a very effective arm-building exercise that incorporates multiple muscles in the movement to help build big strong arms.

The Anatomy Of The Biceps

The biceps highlighted on a muscle diagram of a human

Your biceps are the large muscles on your upper arm.

They sit between your elbow and your shoulder and have responsibility for flexing your elbows and rotating your forearms.

A great way of understanding the anatomy of the biceps is to consider the Latin name for the muscle – biceps brachii.

Biceps brachii means two-headed muscle of the arm, which is a very accurate description of your biceps.

There are two heads to your biceps – the long head and the short head.

The long head is the one that builds the highly sought-after bicep peak, whereas the short head adds width/thickness to the muscle.


In summary:

  • Concentration curls mainly target the long head of the biceps.
  • You can target the long head more during concentration curls by using an appropriate weight and the correct technique.
  • Using a supinated grip at the highest point of he movement will help focus on the short head.

Hope this helped!


Arnold Schwarznegger Arm Workout


Sunday 14th of May 2023

I don't get how a concentration curl would target the Long Head more. Also Twist to subination should target the Short Head seems to make No Sense of You Look at Anatomie. The Long Head goes Outside If the arm, contracting He also will subinate the forarm. The Short Head does no subination at My knowledge. For targeting the Long Head You usualy put your Arm behind the Body, Like during incline curls. Having the arm in Front usualy Targets more the Short Head. Like Preacher or spidercurls. Somebody gets something wrong Here. Either You or myself funny fact: If You Look into Other articles You will get different answers. Some say so, some so. What's the right one ? If You follow the fibers and how the muscle is fixed Short Head activation during seated concentration curls and Long Head during subination and/or arm behind the Body Makes more Sense. But who am i to Claim to know better. But AS Said: would be nice to get the right answer once and for all.