9 BEST Exercises for Bigger Forearms
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Your forearm is made up of over 20 different muscles. Starting On the outside of your forearm you have a group of extensor muscles that help extend your hands outward as well as side to side and they’re also highly involved in moving your fingers in all different directions.
As we circle around to the inside of the forearm, we find the muscles responsible for flexion of the wrist and fingers which primarily help you curl your hands and fingers inward.
Going a little deeper we find our pronator and supinator muscles responsible for rotating and turning the hand in and out.
Finally, we have one of the larger muscles of the forearm the brachioradialis, and this muscle is more involved with flexing at the elbow and moving the entire forearm rather than just the hand.
This complex group of muscles is what gives us the ability to move our hands and fingers in all different directions,
And our forearm muscles are involved in almost every single upper body exercise ranging from pullups to lateral raises, and their even involved in certain lower body exercises like deadlifts, and lunges.
So by building them up not only will it help you develop important functions like your grip strength,
But your forearms will also grow in size which will help your arms look bigger and fuller even while wearing a long sleeve shirt with rolled-up sleeves.
So today I want to go over 9 of the best exercises you can do to target and develop your forearms.
And I want to start first with one of my favorite isolation exercises for working the inside of your forearm the seated barbell wrist curl.
To begin you would grab a barbell with a pretty close grip. You want your hands close enough together so that your elbows are both able to fit side by side on the bench.
Many people like to perform this exercise on the side of a bench where you would do it on your knees and that’s fine,
It would actually give you more space to take a wider grip but I find it a lot more comfortable for both my knees and my arms to do it in line with the bench rather than across the bench.
So after grabbing a barbell with your palms facing away from you sit down on the bench and position your forearms towards the end of the bench so that your wrists are hanging off the edge.
As you do that you also want to slide your hips back and get down nice and low so that your elbows are planted into the bench.
From that position, you almost want to imagine that you’re doing bicep curls except instead of flexing at the elbows we’re now flexing at the wrists.
To extend your wrists to lower the weight down and then curl your wrist back inward to raise the weight back up.
Additionally, since your forearm muscles are responsible for flexing your fingers, when lowering down you can allow the barbell to roll all the way down to your fingertips before curling it all the way back up.
Besides incorporating more forearm muscles, doing it this way will also give you a better stretch at the bottom and provide you with a slightly greater range of motion.
Now you can do the same exact exercise by using just one dumbbell to work one forearm at a time instead of both at the same time as you would with the barbell.
This can be especially useful for those of you that feel a lot of pressure in your wrists when doing it with a straight barbell.
Since the dumbbells are not connected you’ll have a slightly freer range of motion which will take some of that tension of the wrists.
Another great way to isolate the inside of your forearm with a barbell is by performing the wrist curls standing straight up.
I find it most effective to do these behind your back. So to set this up you would rack a barbell right a little lower than hip level.
Then turn your back to the barbell and turn your hands over so that your knuckles are facing forward and your palms are facing the barbell.
From there unrack the barbell and take a step forward. Then just like before you’re going to curl the barbell all the way up before lowering back down and repeating for reps.
When doing it standing you’ll get a little bit shorter of a range of motion since you won’t be able to hyperextend your wrists as far on the extension.
However, this is still a very effective exercise to Target the inner part of the forearm and a great alternative to mix into your routine is to perform the same exercise with a cable.
Using the cable will provide a slightly different constant form of tension on your inner forearms.
With that said that the inner part of the forearm gets plenty of work just by doing exercises like pull-ups and especially bicep curls.
In fact, the inner forearm is highly involved in all of your bicep curling movements because your forearm flexors need to stabilize the wrist when performing regular curls.
But the part of the forearm that doesn’t get as much attention is the back part or the outside of the forearm.
And one of my favorite ways to isolate this part of the forearm is with a wrist roller.
If you don’t have a wrist roller available at your gym you can buy one for under twenty bucks or you can make one on your own entirely by taking a wooden pole or an old broomstick and then cutting a longer piece as well as a shorter piece.
Then you would just drill a hole in the middle of each and tie a rope to each end. So to begin you would unwind the Rope so that it’s hanging straight down and you would attach a weight to the bottom of the wrist roller.
Then while keeping your elbows bent locked at your sides and while holding your arms close to your body you would curl one wrist up at a time switching from side to side to slowly wrap the rope around the bar and raise the weight up to your hands.
Once you get the weight up to the top you want to make sure you avoid making the common mistake of just loosening your grip and letting the rope unroll back down to the floor.
This is because as I’m sure you know the negative or Eccentric portion of a contraction is the part of the movement that breaks down muscle the most.
So you want to slowly unwind the Rope the same way that you wound it up alternating from one hand to the other until it’s all the way at the bottom.
Another common mistake that you want to avoid while doing this exercise is holding your arms straight out in front of your body in a frontal raise position.
While this isn’t necessarily bad for you it’s not as effective for your forearms because after about 30 seconds your shoulders are going to start feeling a lot of fatigue limiting the number of rounds that you can roll the weight up and down due to shoulder fatigue rather than forearm fatigue.
Now just as a side note keep in mind that you can also use this exercise to work the inside of your forearms and you can do that one of two ways.
The first way is by turning your hands over and holding your arms bent at a 90-degree angle. Then you would just alternate curling one wrist up at a time.
The second way is to keep your hands in the same position as before except instead of curling your knuckles up towards you you would curl them downward and alternate from side to side that way.
All three of these exercise variations are excellent at hitting the forearms. I recommend doing three to four sets of 3 to 5 rounds per set depending on how much weight you’re using.
And by the way, when I say around I’m talking about fully winding the weight up and unwinding it down, that would count as one complete round.
Another great exercise to Target your outer forearms is the reverse wrist curl. These are very similar to the ones that we were doing earlier and we can use the bench just like before but this time we would just simply curl the barbell up with our Knuckles up rather than down.
But since the muscles on the outside of our forearms will typically be a little weaker than the muscles on the inside of the forearms the bar itself might be a little too heavy for some of you to perform reverse wrist curls.
So if you cant do it with a barbell grab a dumbbell and take a seat on a bench. Then place your forearm along your thigh toward the end so that your wrist is once again hanging off the edge.
Then simply lower the dumbbell to get a nice stretch and then curl your wrists up by trying to drive your knuckles towards the ceiling.
Then lower back down and repeat for reps. Placing your forearms over your knees instead of the bench is actually a variation that you can do to target the inside as well as the outside of your forearms.
Next, I want to move on to two compound exercises for your forearms starting first with hammer curls.
Anytime that you have your hand turned over in a neutral position or a pronated position, you’ll be able to incorporate a lot more of your forearm into the movement. Specifically, hammer curls really help to target that large forearm muscle that I was talking about earlier known as the brachioradialis.
So to start this one you’ll first want to grab two dumbbells and hold them in a neutral position.
Then you’re going to curl one dumbbell up until your forearm is almost vertical and your thumb will be pointing towards your shoulder.
After that, you’ll just slowly lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position and switch to the other side alternating back and forth for reps.
Now you can do these seated or standing both can be very effective but you do want to make sure that you avoid some common mistakes.
First of all, make sure that you’re not swinging back and using momentum until the last one or two reps.
Also, make sure you keep your elbows pinned to your sides and don’t allow them the flare out away from your ribs or forward in front of your body.
Now an alternative you can do that’s still considered a hammer is the cross-body Hammer curl.
Pretty much everything else would stay the same, the only difference is that now you’re going to be coming across your body, and instead of aiming to bring the dumbbell up to your shoulder,
you’re going to aim to bring it up to your opposite pec before switching sides and alternating for reps.
Another compound exercise to Target your forearm is the reverse grip EZ bar curl.
Now this one can be done in a number of different ways. You can use an EZ bar, a regular straight barbell, cables,
And you can even use a bench set at an incline that you would lean against for an exercise known as spider curls. but the core concept for all these exercises is the same.
You would grab the bar with an overhand grip so your palms will be facing down and your knuckles will be facing up.
Then you would curl the weight up towards your shoulders, and slowly lower back down before repeating for reps.
Again while doing this make sure you keep those elbows at your sides and don’t let them flare outward or forward.
The only exception is with spider curls since obviously your elbows will not be directly at your sides but instead, they’ll be in front of your body due to the angle that you’ll be performing the exercise from.
Moving on to the next few exercises I want to show you guys not only how to build up your forearms but also how to highly strengthen your grip.
And the first way to do that is with the plate pinch. you would do this one by simply taking two weighted plates, 5 or 10-pound plates are great to start with.
Then you would stack them side-by-side so that the smooth sides of the plates are facing outward and from there you would just hold these two plates sandwiched together in your hands for 45 to 90 seconds or until you hit failure and can’t hold them anymore.
If you can hold it for longer than 90 seconds you can of course go for a longer timeframe but I recommend moving up in weight instead and you can do that by either stacking a third 10-pound plate on to the other two or you can take two 25 pound plates and hold those together.
Just keep in mind going from 10-pound plates to 25’s is a pretty big jump
Another great exercise for grip and building up the forearm is the good old Farmer Walk.
This one’s pretty straightforward you grab some really heavy dumbbells or a trap bar loaded with some really heavyweight and you simply walk.
Now that might sound easy but it will absolutely exhaust not only your grip strength but many other upper body muscles including your biceps shoulders and traps.
Again here just 45 to 90 seconds of walking with a heavyweight load will provide an excellent challenge.
The last exercise that’ll help your grip, as well as your forearms, will require the use of grippers.
You can buy a bunch of different grippers by going with a brand like captains of crush.
Here each gripper will provide its own resistance level ranging from a slight amount of resistance to a very heavy amount of resistance so you can progressively work your way up.
This was the go-to way to strengthen your grip over many years but nowadays there are products that allow you to adjust the resistance level so you can have a light medium and heavy resistance level all in one gripper.
But regardless of which you go with the exercise is performed the same way you would simply try to crush the gripper and squeeze as hard as you can before slowly opening your hand to return back to the starting position. Then you would just repeat for reps.
Now other than all of these exercises you can also use certain accessories to help incorporate more of your forearms and grip strength into your workouts.
For example, you can use thicker barbells if you have access to them or you can buy what are known as fat grips to make it more challenging to grip and hold weights whether your doing rows, farmer walks, or curls. Additionally, with the fat grips, you can use them on a lot of different equipment other than just dumbbells and barbells.
For example, you can even use them on the pull-up bar. And speaking of Pull-Ups another accessory that you can use to strengthen your grip is what’s known as the cannonball grip. You would attach these balls to a pullup bar and perform pull-ups that way.
That about wraps it up guys I really hope that you enjoyed this video and that you got at least a few new ideas on how to challenge and develop your forearms as well as your grip strength to help those forearms grow bigger wider and stronger.
I recommend taking a few of these exercises and throwing them in at the end of your bicep training workouts to further stimulate the forearms.
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