Forearms, along with calves, often aren’t trained hard enough! I’m guilty of that as many of you pointed out how skinny my forearms looked on a picture I posted when I was hanging out with my loving mother. I can thank the Internet for that. You guys showed no love! I’ll just say that since I started #everydayisarmday my biceps and triceps got so big that my forearms just appear small. They aren’t actually small! I just had to get that off of my chest. Thanks to the criticism I realized that I needed to do more to improve my forearms and grip strength. So that led me to this blog post.
Who doesn’t want huge forearms like Popeye? There are very few muscles on the body that say, “I’m strong” like jacked forearms. Forearms are a tricky muscle to train because they are used to abuse. They get used every day with daily activities and are used in most of your workouts. There are very few workouts that don’t require your hands holding onto something. I think the only time I don’t use my hands is when I do back squats with no hands and I don’t do that very often! So we must come up with ways to train them outside of their comfort zone.
In order to properly train the forearm we need to recognize that the forearm is a series of muscles that all serve a different function. Some parts of the forearm are involved in wrist movement, others are involved with what your fingers and hands are doing, and some are involved in the movement of the lower arm during a curling motion. One thing I can guarantee is that pretty much all of them will be involved in some way with grip. One of the easiest ways to train the forearms is to work on grip strength with static holds.
Try tossing in a static hold or wrist curling movement 3x per week in your training program. Focus on gradually increasing the weight and reps on the wrist curl movements and work on increasing the time you can grip a static hold. Below I will give you a few different exercises to work the forearms and grip strength!
BEST FOREARM BUILDERS
*These workouts are best consumed after eating a can of spinach. If it worked for Popeye it can work for you.
BARBELL/DBELL WRIST CURL
I like to perform this exercise in 25-50 rep sets. You can sit down on a flat bench and place the top of your forearm on the bench with your hand hanging off (facing up). Using a dbell for single arm wrist curls, or a barbell for double arm wrist curls…gradually pull your hand up and contract the forearm. Then slowly allow the hand to return to the starting position. You should feel a contraction and then a stretch just like any other movement. I like to do 2-3 sets with minimal rest (30 secs or less).
Another variation of this is to stand above a bench press with the barbell behind you. Grab the barbell behind you and take a step forward. From here you can curl your hands up which will work the forearm. Those of you looking to add heavy weight might prefer to do this in the power rack. If you are working the forearm correctly then your grip will fail!
This is a movement that is pretty hard to do but is great for working grip strength. Get two towels that are long enough to hang over a pull up bar. Grip the towels and hang from them as long as you can. You’ll feel your grip slip but hang on as long as possible! If you’re advanced you can do pull-ups or leg raises while holding onto the towel as well.
The hammer curl is a great biceps and brachialis/brachioradialis builder. Think of them being able to work the biceps and the top of the forearm. You can go heavier with these. One tip is to try and keep the top of the dbell as flat as possible when you get to the top of the curl. Then slowly return to the starting position.
REVERSE GRIP BARBELL CURL
The reverse grip barbell curl will work a lot of the same muscles as the hammer curl. Those of you looking to increase the difficulty should try doing them with a thumb-less false grip. If you do it right you should feel a pump on the top of your forearm and side of the biceps.
I hope you are able to utilize these tips to not only build some bigger forearms but that it contributes to your strength goals as well. A stronger grip and wrists will make you stronger on almost anything in the weight room! Thank you so much for reading and all of your support!