Biceps Brachii

General information

The biceps brachii (commonly referred to as the bicep) is one of 20 muscles located in the human arm.

Literal meaning

The two- headed muscle of the arm.

Interesting information

The biceps brachii is a two-headed muscle which flexes the elbow and supinates or turns the forearm so that it lies with the palm facing upwards. This key muscle functions across three different joints in the upper forearm, elbow, and shoulder. In addition to elbow flexion and forearm supination, the biceps brachii also plays a minor role in moving the arm across the body and stabilizing the shoulder joint during heavy lifting and carrying.

To feel your biceps brachii, lay your arm on a flat surface and make a tight fist. Flex your elbow and move your fingers along your elbow crease and upwards until you feel the contracted biceps brachii muscle and tendons in your upper arm.

Approximately 10% of people have biceps brachii containing a third structural head.

Injury or inflammation of the biceps brachii may lead to pain in the shoulder or elbow crease, as well as difficulty in rotating the forearm. Sprains, lesions, or muscle tears can be caused by heavy lifting or from strain during sports or exercise. Violinists and cellists are frequently subject to inflammation of the biceps brachii due to repeated strain with bow movements. Most injuries of the biceps brachii respond well to simple treatments such as ice, rest and elevation. Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications can provide additional pain relief. Surgery is typically required in aggravated cases with extensive muscle tear or sprain, followed by rehabilitation to restore strength.


Short head: coracoid process of the scapula;

Long head: supraglenoid tubercle.


Radial tuberosity and antebrachial fascia.


Elbow flexion and supination of the forearm.

Nerve supply

Musculocutaneous nerve (C5–C6).

Blood supply

Brachial artery.

Biceps Brachii

Relevant research

Multiple structural and neurovascular variations in the biceps brachii muscles in humans have been observed. One rare case in a Nepalese man was discovered to contain as many as seven muscle heads within a single biceps brachii muscle. Knowledge of such anatomical variations is vital in determining appropriate treatment methods and surgical procedures.

Poudel, PP; Bhattarai, C (2009). "Study on the supernumerary heads of biceps brachii muscle in Nepalese". Nepal Med Coll J 11 (2): 96–98.

Nayak SR, Ashwin K, Madhan KSJ, Latha VP, Vasudha S, Merin MT (2007). “Four-headed biceps and triceps brachii muscles,with neurovascular variation.” Anatomical Sci Int’l; 83: 107-11.

Ruptures of the biceps brachii tendons requiring surgery are common in athletes and trainees who abuse anabolic steroids.

Thomas Pagonis, Panagiotis Givissis, Kostantinos Ditsios, Athanasios Pagonis, Georgios Petsatodis, Anastasios Christodoulou. The effect of steroid-abuse on anatomic reinsertion of ruptured distal biceps brachii tendon. Injury - Nov 2011 (42) 11, 1307-1312

Biceps brachii exercises

One exercise which can strengthen the biceps brachii is the Isolated Biceps Curl, performed using a set of dumbbells. Holding one in each hand, rest your arm along an incline bench. Relax your armpit into the corner of the bench. Beginning with your palms facing upwards, flex your elbow and raise each dumbbell to your shoulder. Lower to the original position and repeat. For optimal results, perform 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions, three times per week.

Biceps brachii exercises

The Standing Row exercise can also help strengthen the biceps brachii and uses an elastic resistance band. Stand facing a closed door and tie the resistance band in a knot around the doorknob. Begin by holding both ends of the band. Flex your elbows and bring your arms close to your sides, fully extending both ends of the band while contracting your shoulder blades. Return to the initial position and repeat. For optimal strengthening results, perform two sets of 20 repetitions of this exercise, three times per week.

Biceps brachii exercises

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