Skip to Content

Which Bicep Head Do Spider Curls Work? (Long or Short)

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

In this article, we look at which bicep head spiders 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.

Man doing a spider curl

Which Bicep Head Do Spider Curls Work?

Spider curls put a lot of focus on the short head of your biceps

It is an isolation exercise so it specifically targets just one muscle – in this instance, your biceps.

However, rather than working the entire muscle (both long and short heads), it places more stress on the short head making it a great exercise for developing thicker, fuller upper arms.

How To Target The Long Head More During Spider Curls

Spider curls are commonly performed with dumbbells.

The short head of your biceps is the main target of the exercise using this variation.

You can perform spider curls with a barbell or an EZ bar.

By doing this, you can change your hand position to help bring the long head into play a little more.

Doing spider curls with a barbell means you can use a narrow grip on the bar. Using a close grip on a barbell generally hits your long head a little more.

It’s worth keeping in mind though that the short head of your biceps is the main focus of spider curls.

So it can be more challenging than other exercises to switch the focus onto the long head.

Concentration curls work the long head, so if you want to develop your long head, you should include these in your arm workouts.

How To Target The Short Head More During Spider Curls

Spider curls do a great job of targeting the short head of your biceps.

Performing them with dumbbells will put a lot of focus on the short head and help build thick and fuller arms.

If you’re doing spider curls with a barbell or an EZ bar, then a wider grip can be helpful for keeping your short head working as much as possible.

An easy way to remember this is to think that a wide grip adds width to your biceps.

As the short head is responsible for the width of your biceps, then you can be confident it will keep the focus in the right place.

What Other Muscles Do Spider Curls Work?

The primary muscles being worked in spider curls are the biceps with a particular focus on the short head.

As spider curls are considered to be an isolation exercise, they do a good job of making your biceps work very hard throughout the movement.

That being said, other muscles do play a part in the exercise too.

The brachialis activates during spider curls.

This is a muscle that lies beneath your biceps and is an important part of elbow flexion.

Your triceps also come into play slightly during spider curls so they’re a great all-round arm-building exercise.

The Anatomy Of The Biceps

The biceps highlighted on a muscle diagram of a human

Your biceps sit between your elbow and your shoulder on your upper arm.

It’s a large muscle that works to flex your elbow and rotate your forearm.

It’s a common muscle of focus for many gym-goers looking to increase the size of their arms.

The word biceps comes from the Latin term of biceps brachii which means “two-headed muscle of the upper arm”.

If you were unsure of the anatomy of the biceps, then this is a good way of describing them.

The muscle comprises of 2 heads – the long head and the short head.

The different heads play different roles in the overall appearance of your biceps.

The long head is the head that builds the sought-after biceps peak.

The short head of the biceps adds thickness and width to the muscle giving a much fuller appearance to your upper arms.


In summary:

  • Spider curls predominantly work the short head of the biceps.
  • You can target the long head more during spider curls by using a narrow grip on a barbell.
  • Using a wider grip during spider curls will help focus on the short head.

Hope this helped!


Biceps Anatomy