The barbell Drag Curl is said to be effective for the Bicep Long Head as it works in a more stretched position compared to the conventional barbell curl.

I'm considering to add it to my routine in substitution of the Cable Bayesian Curl, which I did in my previous routine and in which I have reached a progress plateau.

Well, I have two doubts about the effectiveness of such an exercise:

  1. Some people perform it by curling whilst keeping the bar close to their abs/chest, hence raising their elbows backwards in a shoulder extended position. These people terminate the movement here.

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Other people, on their elbows have reached the parallel, move them forwards like a conventional barbell curl as shown in the following picture.

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Which variation does better target the long head of the bicep?

  1. Is this exercise really effective from a resistence profile? My concern is about the shoulder extension: will it shift the load from the biceps into the rear delts, so that they will be the limiting factor? In such a case, it would not be a good biceps exercise...

1 Answer 1

  1. Neither variation specifically develops the long heads of the biceps more than a regular bicep curl, because neither loads the long head of the biceps when it is fully elongated. Stretching of the long head requires that the shoulder is hyperextended (upper arm is behind the torso) while the elbow is straight. But the drag curl only hyperextends the shoulder while the elbow flexes, so it doesn't elongate the long head of the biceps. Stretching of the load head requires a movement more like an incline biceps curl. The difference between the two drag curl variations you posted is that the second on adds an additional movement at the end which is driven by the anterior deltoids, whereas the first version is more of a pure biceps exercise.
  2. The drag curl does not load the rear delts, because the weight stays in front of the shoulder. Hence gravity is actually pushing the shoulder into extension without any muscular involvement at the shoulder. This is in contrast to a regular biceps curl, where the elbows are held at the sides, in which the anterior deltoids must work to prevent the shoulders from extending.

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