Building strength and size in your forearms can be hard. But, the good news is that you can achieve this goal. Wondering how? We’ve got all the info you need for your Forearm Workout!
Progression is the key to building muscle size. After focusing on your core muscles, you want to start isolating specific areas that are beneficial such as your forearms. Adding size to your forearms can be hard for most. In a way, it’s just like with calves because it is not the meatiest region on your body.
However, a forearm workout is mainly beneficial for strength purposes. Let’s look at some of the main reasons behind this. From there, we’ll give you some good exercises that should help you build your forearm muscles.
Forearm Workout For Increasing Size
First off, you will most likely not be using a specific day of the week to target only your forearms. This type of isolation is not really needed since plenty of exercises already use your forearms as a secondary muscle group. As a result, just adding one or two exercises into a core program such as a back or shoulder day is recommended.
In order to increase the size of your forearms, you do not necessarily need to use heavy weights. Instead, you should focus on using a moderate load. This allows you to perform 8 to 10 reps for 4 or 5 sets. This is plenty of isolation for your forearms and is the basic concept used for muscle building.
You need to be consuming plenty of calories if you want to increase the size of your muscles. You can’t consume food expecting the calories to only go to certain muscle groups, but you do need to consume enough calories to support mass gains. This means you must consume more calories than your daily-recommended amount for energy use.
Keep in mind how many lifts and reps you are performing is also a key factor.
If you train your muscles for two hours in the gym, then you will need to consume a lot of calories to support such a workout. Not consuming enough will result in muscle proteins being used for energy. This is actually when your body uses muscles for energy and can decrease their size. You don’t want that!
Essentially it all boils down to proper calorie intake and doing enough sets and reps to encourage muscle growth. This is a simple concept and one of the fundamentals of bodybuilding.
Forearm Workout For Increasing Strength
Forearm strength is the biggest benefit from workouts that target this region. While, as mentioned, you are not spending an entire training session focusing on forearms, a few select exercises will go a long way. Forearm strength benefits include the ability to grip equipment more effectively for heavier lifts.
For example, when it comes to doing the deadlift, you should really not get into the habit of using wrist straps. This type of equipment takes away from your ability to develop grip strength through the use of your forearms as well. Instead, they handle everything for you and technically you are losing out on nice forearm pumps.
Basically, if you can’t deadlift that one rep max of yours without straps, then that is not your true max out strength. If you are having trouble with gripping equipment, then do the forearm exercises that will soon be discussed, along with some other techniques not many know about. Here’s a tip: Use of chalk also goes a long way with grip strength.
Strength can be developed through the muscle building process with the use of moderate loads, or you can even use lighter loads and perform more reps. Remember, your forearms need to last throughout movements such as deadlifts and strength, along with muscular endurance, greatly improve performance.
Forearm Exercises That Get The Job Done
The exercises that follow work great at developing both forearm strength and size. You definitely do not need to use heavy load settings often, but if you wish to use them every now and then it is your choice.
Choose two of the exercises to implement into a training day, and try to have two training days with the chosen forearm exercises.
Switch out exercises for best results.
This exercise is when you literally hold two pieces of equipment, such as dumbbells, and simply walk with them. The farmer carry is likely the only exercise you would actually need to use heavy weight in order to get a nice forearm workout. Walking around with 20-pound dumbbells is not going to do much for most men.
The farmer carry is effective because you must grip the weight with a lot of pressure to prevent it from dropping with the pull of gravity. This exercise also hits your core muscles and is great for shoulder and trap strength as well. The trap bar walk is similar as well just using a different piece of equipment. You can use this if you need more weight to load on during the walk.
Reverse Grip Barbell Curl
The regular grip is used for your biceps, but when you reverse your grip by placing your palms face down on the bar, you target a different muscle group. The focus is then on your forearms and what is known as the brachialis muscle. This is located under your biceps. Want contractions on your forearms? Grip the hell out of the bar and squeeze the entire set.
Seated Dumbbell Side Wrist Curl
You basically take a dumbbell in each hand and sit with your upper body up straight. Simply keep your arms extended down and only use your wrist to curl the dumbbells up to your forearms. This will greatly increase wrist, forearm and grip strength when done each week. Try doing them as a burnout after seated curls and see how intense the workout becomes for your forearms.
This exercise can be done standing as well, but people tend to have a habit of assisting their forearms by pressing down on the balls of their feet. This action takes away some of the resistance you want for better contractions.
You likely see this useful equipment being made fun of in TV shows and movies, but the squeeze grip is quite effective for forearm strength and increases your grip as well. You can find them in different resistances. This actually allows you to progressively increase resistance with each set if you wish.
Superset this using a squeeze grip in each hand for a set and then follow that up right away with the barbell reverse curl.
Different Methods That Help Your Forearm
Aside from the exercises we’ve given to create a forearm workout, there are also different methods you can use to help increase the benefits even further. These methods will increase the size and strength of your forearms and assist you with being able to grip the bar better like we discussed with the deadlift. Try them out and see how different your workout feels.
Use Weight Plates To Perform Biceps Curls
Most weight plates from 10 pounds and up have little slots open to place your hands in for better hold of the weight as you take them off the bar. This safety feature is also good for forearm training and increases grip strength as well.
What you do is pretty simple. Grasp one of the plate handles with your palms facing in towards your body. This action makes it a neutral grip while curling. Keep your elbows in and do not use your body to assist with the movement. Start with a 10 to 25-pound plate first to see how much you can use.
You can also use a kettlebell for this. Simply grasp the kettlebell handle and curl your lower arm up while making sure the ball portion of the kettlebell is straight out from your knuckles. If your wrist sags or bends during the movement, then you should lower the weight being used.
Use Thick Bars For Movements
You may not have noticed, but gyms usually have dumbbells and barbells that have thicker grips than most of the other equipment. This feature was mainly made for people with longer fingers and bigger hands but has become an alternative you can use to increase forearm strength and size. A thicker handle means your hands have to be squeezed much harder in order to perform the movement.
Do not try this equipment for the first time using resistance that is 80% or more of your max lift. Stick to a moderate weight setting and see how much more weight you can add on as you progress. This concept works pretty well for the farmer carry exercise.
Why Not Add An Arms Training Day To Bring Your Forearms Up To Par?
Okay, so you have the info needed to help increase the size and strength of your forearms. This will also improve your ability to grip heavy loads better. As mentioned, you do not want to have a day focused on forearms only, but adding an arms training day is the closest you can get to this while also improving the size of a bigger group of muscles.
Don’t do any forearm specific exercises in the first three exercises performed. This will fatigue them and may prevent maximum workout potential for movements focused on your biceps and triceps.
Remember, when you see the term “superset,” it means you perform the first exercise set, and then do the second exercise’s first set right after it. The term “burnout” means you will perform the exercise for one set with as many reps as you can until muscle fatigue sets in. All the exercises below are to be done with moderate resistance loads.
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Biceps Curl x4 x8-10
Seated Overhead Triceps Extension x4 x8-10
Cable Rope Triceps Pulldown x4 x8-10
Weight Plate Curl x3 x8-10
Weight Plate Triceps Pushback x3 x8-10
Barbell Reverse Curl x1 Burnout Set
Stretch Your Forearms And Treat Them With Rest
Your forearms need stretching throughout the arms training program provided and even after each set if you implement specific exercises into a different training program. The reason is because it is easy for your forearms to lock up and make it quite difficult to grip any type of resistance. Even light resistance can become quite hard.
Stretching and loosening up these muscles is not very hard. An easy way between sets is to slowly rotate your wrists in circles, and then move your wrists up and down holding the stretch for a quick second or two of each motion. You can also find a surface to place your hand thumb side down and push your upper body weight forward to create a stretch against your arm muscles.
When it comes to rest, your forearms need the same type of attention for recovery as your pecs, shoulders, legs, etc. Many people do not think that such a small muscle region needs rest. They are wrong. This region needs 24 hours of rest if you train with enough intensity to damage the muscle cells. During this period, you should not perform forearm exercises. Instead, use the next day of your week for leg training or just rest.
Do you want to increase the size and strength of your forearms?
Great. In that case, use the info we have just outlined. It should work to increase the size and strength of your lower arms through proper isolation. Try every one of these exercises and methods. The variety should ensure that your training programs change every once in a while. That should work to prevent your muscles from adapting to all the movements taking place. And that means greater growth should be in your future!
By Brian Pankau, CPT