The bicep includes a short head and a long head that work as a single muscle. When the biceps contracts, it pulls the forearm up and rotates it outward.
The long head is located on the outside of the arm and is the portion that provides the peak of the bicep. The short head is located on the inside of the arm and it provides width to the inside of the bicep. There is a third muscle in the upper arm that sits under the long head of the bicep on the outside of the arm and creates width to the upper arm, this muscle is called the Brachialis and is the prime mover of elbow flexion.
When doing exercises for wider biceps the brachialis needs to be targeted to give the arms a wider appearance from the front and the short head needs to be targeted to give the nice round bicep look.
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Externally Rotated Incline Dumbbell Curl
Exercises that externally rotate your forearm like this version of an incline dumbbell curl will work the short head of the bicep and give a nice round look to the bicep when flexed as well as give a wider appearance when not flexed.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit down on an incline bench positioned at a 45° angle.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and let the dumbbells hang at your sides with your palms facing forward.
- Curl the dumbbells up, bending the elbows and rotating your arms out to your sides with your thumbs pointing behind you.
- Curl both weights as high as you can and squeeze at the top, then lower your arms back to starting position.
Wide Grip Barbell Curl
The wide-grip barbell curl is a variation of the classic barbell curl with the grip wider than shoulder width. This is another exercise that forces your hands to rotate externally more than a traditional barbell curl and helps build the short head of the bicep muscles.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Grasp a barbell so that your arms are fully extended downward and your palms are facing outward with your hands wider than shoulder width apart.
- Without moving your upper arms, exhale and bend your arms, contracting your biceps as you raise the barbell to your chest.
- Hold for a moment as you contract your biceps tighter.
- Inhale as you slowly reverse the motion and lower the barbell back to the starting position.
Hammer Curl Bar
You will need a tri bar to complete the barbell hammer curl. A tri bar has handles running at 90 degrees to the bar, allowing you to grip the bar with a neutral grip. Using this type of grip will target the brachialis by taking the forearm rotation out of the equation. You can emulate this exercise with a set of dumbbells or pick up one of the most versatile bars here.
- Load weights on to a tri bar and place it in front of you.
- Position your feet at around shoulder width apart and bend down to grasp the bar with a neutral grip.
- Standing straight up, and keeping your body fixed with a slight lean forward, slowly curl the bar up as far as possible.
- Keep your elbows tucked in at your sides, and don’t allow them to move forward when curling the weight.
- Squeeze the biceps at the top of the exercise, and then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position keeping tension on your biceps at all times.
Also called the cross-body hammer curl, this neutral-grip exercise will hammer the brachialis
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand straight up holding them at your sides.
- You should be using a neutral grip (palms facing the body) and the dumbbells should not be resting on your thigh.
- Slowly curl the dumbbell up across the front of your body while slightly rotating your hand so your palm is facing down a bit.
- Squeeze at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement for your other arm.
Reverse Grip Spider Curl
This is another exercise that targets the brachialis by taking the forearm rotation out of the equation.
- Start by grabbing a dumbbell in each hand, holding it with a reverse grip so that your palms are facing inward and position yourself lying face first on an inclined bench.
- Then extend your biceps down-and-out in front of you.
- Curl the weights up towards your shoulders while keeping your palms facing away from you.
- Hold for a count when you reach the top position and then return to the starting position.
Close Grip Pull-up
This version of the pullup will recruit the brachialis and take some tension off of the back muscles.
- Grab a pull-up bar with your hands narrower than shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you.
- Allow your arms to fully straighten and keep your core muscles tight before starting the pull-up.
- Pull your body up so your chin is at the height of the bar and squeeze at the top.
- Slowly lower your body back down to the starting position.
These are the best 6 exercises for wider biceps and you should try to work one for the short head of the bicep and one for the brachialis in to each arm workout. You may have to start with lighter weights since these muscles aren’t targeted that often, save them for the end of your arm workout and train to failure to get the most out of your arm workouts.
What do you think of these exercises for wider biceps? Have you been targeting the brachialis with your arm workouts?