During a bicep workout I usually start with a neutral grip machine preacher curl, which effectively targets the long head and provides good resistance in the lengthened position. I've never been able to find an effective bicep exercise that works the shortened position and targets the short head. I'm just looking for suggestions.

1 Answer 1


You're misunderstanding the effect of muscle elongation on selective bicep head hypertrophy. Higher resistance when the elbow is straightened does not specifically target the long head, and higher resistance when the elbow is flexed does not specifically target the short head. Preacher curls are not a long-head specific exercise.

Bicep exercises that put the upper arms behind the torso, such as the incline seated bicep curl offer a slight boost to hypertrophy of the long head. But generally all bicep exercises affect all heads of the bicep.

  • Yeah, sounded a bit like "how to target the vastus medialis specifically" to me, which also is a bit like "well, that's not how it works (apparently, according to scientific trials)". Sep 25, 2023 at 14:24
  • Yes I know that the position of the upper arm relative to the torso is what dictates which head is dominant in that movement. I've also seen videos citing studies (and then checked the study myself) which showed that a machine preacher curl, although positioning the upper arm in front of the torso, is more efficient in targeting the long head than something less stable like incline dumbell curls. This is because although the preacher position favours the short head, the stability and even resistance profile means that even the long head is targeted more effectively.
    – Ethan
    Sep 26, 2023 at 13:20
  • If you mean Oliveira et al 2009, that doesn't really say anything about preacher curls being efficient at targeting the long head, as it's just an EMG study, it says nothing about how much hypertrophy the different exercises cause. It also didn't measure short head activation, so doesn't suggest at all that preacher curls are a long-head specific exercise or that they fail to target the short head. Sep 27, 2023 at 0:24

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