When it comes to arm training, people put all their focus on biceps and triceps. But if you really want that complete muscular look then you cannot afford to neglect your forearms. A lot of the time when you’re out and about, you’ll be wearing a t-shirt or short sleeved top. That means most of the time the most visible part of your body is going to be your forearms.
It makes no sense to have well developed upper arms with under developed forearms. You need to have a good balance between the two. So I’ve put together some of the best exercises and tips to build strong, powerful and muscular forearms.
These exercises will target the three main muscle bundles on the forearms for overall development. The Brachioradialis, wrist flexors and wrist extensors.
Exercise 1: Reverse Curl
Target Muscle: Brachioradialis
I like to perform this exercise using an EZ bar, but you can use dumbbells, low pulley or straight bar. This targets the brachioradialis part of the forearm and the biceps, and this is a great exercise to finish off a bicep workout.
Make sure you are warmed up first with some light dumbbell curls and stretching. Grip with both hands around shoulder width apart using a pronated grip (thumbs facing each other). Starting with the bar resting at your thighs bring the bar up as high as you can keeping your upper arm stationary, focus only on moving your forearm. Hold the bar at the top of the movement for a brief pause as you squeeze the muscle and feel the contraction. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
Exercise 2: Seated Barbell Wrist Curls
Target Muscle: Flexor – inside forearm
Sit on a bench a take a bar using a supinated grip (thumbs facing outside / palms facing up) with your hands spaced about shoulder width. Lean forward and rest your forearms on your thighs so that your hands are hanging over your knees. Make sure that the back of your wrists are on top of your knees, this will be your starting position.
Now, lower the bar as far as possible while keeping a tight grip. Then curls the bar up using just the strength of flexing your forearms. Hold the contracted position at the top of the movement for a moment then lower your hands back down.
Exercise 3: Seated Barbell Wrist Extensions
Target Muscle: Extensor – outside forearm
Sit down on a bench and grab a straight or EZ bar with a pronated grip (thumbs pacing each other / palms facing down). Leaning forward, place your forearms on your thighs with your hands hanging free at the knees. From this position lower the bar slowly then curl the bar up using your forearm. Hold the contraction for 2 seconds before slowly returning the weight to the start position.
This is not a power or strength exercises that needs to be done explosively with heavy weight. Perform them in the 8 – 15 rep range slowly with a focus on muscle contraction and squeeze.
Build Forearms by Increasing Grip Strength
Building huge forearms has a lot to do with how strong your grip is. Strengthening your grip is the easiest way to start building up your forearms. Using straps allows you to cheat, lifting more weight with less grip strength.
If you’ve been using straps you will probably need to change the way you lift, at least temporarily. Don’t be afraid to use a power rack in order to get the bar in position. Once you stop using straps you’ll quickly realize just how much they were helping you cheat yourself out of building grip strength. Even if this is the only tip you use, you’ll quickly find your grip strength increase and your forearms begin to bulk up.
Shrugs are probably the best exercise you can perform to strengthen your forearms. Deadlifts are another great exercise for increasing your grip and accelerating forearm growth.