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

Concentration curls have been seen as a legendary bicep-building exercise since Arnold Schwarzenegger done them during the height of his bodybuilding success.

Before adding concentration curls to your workouts, you may be wondering which bicep head they work.

This is great thinking, as ultimately, this affects the appearance of your biceps!

Well, in this article, we cover the anatomy of your biceps, which head of your biceps gets worked during concentration curls, and we also look at ways of working each head a little more.

The Anatomy Of The Biceps

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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