When most people think about arm workouts ... they think about their biceps and triceps. But, what about your forearms?
Why is it that the forearms always get overlooked?
After all, having strong and toned forearms isn't only pleasing to the eyes ... but it's also important for your overall health and longevity.
Thankfully, there are many forearm exercises that can help you build the strength.
Keep reading and I'll share 6 of my favorite forearm workouts! I'll even explain everything you need to know about your forearms and why it's important to keep them strong.
Plus, with a little dedication and the right strategy in place, you’ll start earning the results you want in no time!
But first, let’s take a look at which muscles we're going to be working...
You can break down the 19 muscles of your forearm into 2 categories for the most part...
1. Wrist Flexors
These are the muscles on the palm side of your forearm. These muscles bend your wrist and fingers in the direction your palm is facing. Some of them even help to turn your wrist inward toward the midline of your body. These muscles are super important for a strong grip.
There are 8 muscles on this side of the forearm, and they are made up of the:
• Pronator teres
• Pronator quadratus
• Flexor carpi radialis
• Flexor carpi ulnaris
• Palmaris longus
• Flexor digitorum superficialis
• Flexor digitorum profundus
• Flexor pollicis longus
2. Wrist Extensors
These are the muscles on the back-side of your forearm, opposite your palm side. These muscles pull your wrist and fingers away from your palm. Some of them even help rotate your wrist away from the midline of your body.
One of the muscles located on this side of your forearm is called the brachioradialis. Unlike the other muscles, it works to help bend your elbow rather than assisting wrist movement. So it's a little different, but because it's a larger muscle of the forearm ... it still deserves to be on this list.
There are 11 muscles on this side of your forearm, and they are made up of the:
• Extensor digitorum
• Extensor digiti minimi
• Extensor carpi ulnaris
• Extensor carpi radialis longus
• Extensor carpi radialis brevis
• Abductor pollicis longus
• Extensor pollicis longus
• Extensor pollicis brevis
• Extensor Indicis
Okay, I know I used a lot of fancy words and muscles there. But, to put it simply, these muscles help mostly with opening and closing your hands and moving them in any direction.
Try it for yourself ... wrap your left hand around your right forearm and feel how those muscles fire as you move your right hand. Notice how almost all of them contract on both sides of the forearm when you make a fist.
That means, if you want to strengthen your grip, you'll need to train all of these muscles. After all, having a strong grip can benefit you in more ways than you'd think...
Benefits of Strengthening Your Forearms
What are the benefits to working out your forearms? The truth is, there are a lot.
Here are some of the biggest perks to working out your forearms:
A Stronger Grip
A stronger grip is important for a variety of daily tasks. This can be everything from lifting heavy items to moving furniture. Heck, even carrying your groceries requires grip strength.
Better grip strength can also help your overall performance in the gym. This can help make tough workouts much safer and easier to do.
Increased Bone Density
Like any other form of resistance training, forearm training can help with bone density. The bones and joints in your wrists and forearms are going to be stronger and more resilient to stress because of this!
Having a stronger grip can also help you make progress in your other lifts as well. By this, I'm mainly talking about weight progression.
Now, these are just a few of the benefits of exercising your forearms.
Let's cover 6 of the best forearm exercises for building strength.
6 Forearm Workouts To Crush Your Goals
Ready to dive into some awesome forearm exercises? Then let's start with the most classic forearm exercise of them all...
1. Wrist Curls
How To: Start by sitting on a bench with your legs bent beneath you and your feet planted flat on the ground.
With your arms resting on your thighs, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Make sure your palms are facing up and slowly curl your hands toward your biceps.
Make sure to keep your wrists stationary, only curling your hands toward them.
There also shouldn't be any pain in your hands or wrists. IF there is, try using a different grip or changing the angle.
Repeat this process for 2-3 sets of 10 to 20 repetitions, and take it slow. If you want to take this exercise to the next level, try performing it standing with a barbell behind your back.
You can also try performing this exercise with a neutral grip. This variation can bring a whole new challenge just by changing the orientation of your wrists.
2. Reverse Grip Curls
For this exercise, you will need a barbell, EZ curl bar, or a dumbbell. I prefer the EZ curl bar, but regardless of which option you choose, make sure to use a weight that is challenging for you.
How To: Start by holding your weight of choice with an overhand (reverse) grip. Make sure to stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart.
Keep your back straight and your elbows tight to your body. Grip the EZ curl bar tightly and slowly bend your wrists toward you. Hold for a few seconds before slowly releasing your grip to bring your wrists forward. This is one rep.
3. Dead Hang
This is a great exercise for building your wrist and finger flexors. This one is very simple.
How To: First, grab a pull-up bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. From here, hold onto the bar and squeeze hard for as long as you can. Doing this will count for one set.
If you want to increase the difficulty, try wrapping 2 towels over the bar at shoulder-width apart. From here, grip the towels below the bar and hang as long as you can.
You can also add a weighted vest to really take things up a notch.
This is an isometric exercise, so there isn’t any movement. However, it will test your strength and endurance to the max!
4. Farmer's Walks
For this exercise, you will need a heavy pair of dumbbells.
How To: Start by holding the dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing inward. Keep your shoulders pulled back with your traps engaged. This will help keep the weight from pulling your shoulders down.
It's also important to keep your core tight and engaged. The extra support throughout the movement can help prevent injuries.
In a slow and controlled manner, begin walking with the weights in either hand. Keep walking until you can no longer hold the weights. This will count as one set.
If you feel like it's too easy ... just increase the weight!
5. Hammer Curls
Make sure you have a pair of dumbbells for this one.
How To: Hold the dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing inwards.
Bend your knees slightly to get into an athletic position, and keep your shoulders pulled back. From here, slowly bend your elbows and contract your biceps to lift the dumbbells up toward your shoulders.
Be sure to keep your elbows tucked into your side, your hands in a neutral grip, and squeeze hard the entire time.
Once you lift them all the way, slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps.
6. Wrist Roller
This requires a specific piece of equipment called the wrist roller. Essentially, it is a short bar with handles on both ends, and has a rope attached at the center that hangs down. This rope allows you to attach weights to the bottom to create the resistance for the exercise.
This exercise will burn more than the others, in my experience. It's a wonderful way to train the muscles of the forearm.
How To: Attach a small amount of weight at first until you find your relative strength level, and go up from there.
To begin, you will hold the handles straight out in front of the chest, and begin rotating the bar away from you. Be sure to alternate each hand as the rope wraps around the bar and draws the weight up toward the top.
Once the weight has reached the top, slowly reverse the direction. This will lower the weight back to the starting position. That’s not all though...
Now change directions, rotating the bar back toward your body. The rope will now wrap around the bar in the opposite direction as before.
When the weight reaches the top, reverse the direction once again, bringing the weight back to starting position. Repeat this for 2-3 sets in both directions.
Trust me, your forearms will be on fire before your first set is over!
Wrapping It All Up
Far too many people forget to train their forearms. Little do they know, this could be holding them back from progressing in other areas!
Think about it ... if you want to increase your deadlift, but can't hold on to the weight ... then your grip is holding back your ability to progress the strength in your legs and back.
Now, whether you want to build strength, or just carry all your groceries in one trip ... these exercises can help.
All of them can be done at home or in the gym. All you really need is the right equipment. Most of these pieces can be found at just about any gym or sporting goods store.
Still, it isn’t always easy to stay committed to your fitness goals, and it can also be difficult to know where to start. Especially when workouts are only half the battle.
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