If you are looking for the best forearm exercises and tools to create a forearm workout that really works, then you’ve come to the right place.
Forearms are the often overlooked but incredibly necessary muscles of the arms.
From an aesthetic point of view, no physique is complete without a set of strong muscular forearms.
However your forearms are much more important than just looking good.
The forearms are the major muscles responsible for your grip strength, and if you’re looking to get stronger and build muscle you are going to need a strong grip to pull and push heavy loads.
Your grip strength is a vital component of any pulling exercise like the variations of deadlifts and rows. They also help to progress your pushing movements like bench and shoulder pressing as well.
Most good workouts revolve around a lot of heavy pulling and pushing exercises like the ever popular push pull legs routine. So if you want to progress in your other lifts and build muscle across your whole body you need to be paying attention to your forearms and grip strength.
In this article we’re going to break down exactly how to build your forearms so they not only look good but improve your grip strength so you can perform better in your other lifts.
Before we get into the exercises it is good to have an understanding of the anatomy of the forearms and how the muscles work together.
Your forearms are made up of a lot of smaller muscles that are divided into two main groups.
- Muscles of the posterior compartment (extensor muscles)
- Muscles of the anterior compartment (flexion muscles)
Extensor muscles are used for extension of the wrist and fingers and run down from the top side of your forearm to the back of your hand like this:
The flexion muscles are responsible for flexion at the wrist (bending wrist and fingers.)
The flexors are also responsible for the rotation of the wrist (the ability to turn your palm face up and face down.)
This is how the flexion muscles look:
How To Get Bigger Forearms
If you’re looking to build bigger forearms it’s actually pretty simple.
- Do a lot of heavy barbell pushing, pulling and curling.
- Do some additional forearm exercises if necessary.
If you are following a workout program that involves a lot of heavy compound movements you may find that you don’t actually need to do any additional exercises for your forearms.
For some people heavy back, chest and arm training can be enough to get the forearms they desire.
However if you find yourself struggling with grip strength or your forearms aren’t looking the way you want them to you may need to add in some additional forearm exercises.
While your grip strength will naturally progress with the rest of your training there are some good tools and exercises you can use to help progress your forearms faster.
Forearm Workout Tools
After looking at the anatomy of the forearms it is pretty clear to see that the best way to train them is generally through gripping exercises.
There are some simple tools available that can let you train your forearms whenever you like.
Hand grippers are a great tool to train your forearms. The good thing about hand grippers is that you can get them in increasing resistance which is the key to increasing strength and muscle mass.
The wrist curler is a simple device that allows you to add weight plates to increase the resistance. To use the tool simply hold your arms out in front of yourself and use your wrists to roll up the rope around the bar. Once the weight reaches that top you can reverse the movement and unwind the weight. You’ll feel the burn in your forearms and increasing the resistance is easy as you can simply add more weight plates to the bottom.
Thick bar training is another way to add more emphasis to your forearms in your workouts. You can snap these onto the bar for any exercise you like. I find it works best on pushing and curling exercises as heavy pulling exercises already incorporate a lot of grip strength.
Best Forearm Exercises
We’ve gone over some tools that you can use in your training to build your forearms. Now lets look at some different exercises in the gym that you can add to your forearm workouts.
This is a really simple exercise to do. As your forearms are the major muscles behind grip strength, training with static holds and other gripping exercises are the best way to bring your forearms up to speed.
This is how you perform a barbell hold.
Aim for 10-20 second holds. Once you hit 20 seconds you can add more weight and work your way back up to 20 seconds again.
The plate pinch is another grip strength exercise that works the forearms. Again aim for 10-20 second holds with these.
To increase the weight on plate pinches, instead of going for bigger plates you can add a third plate. This is explained in the video below:
Dumbbell Farmers Walk
The dumbbell farmers walk may look simple but you’ll soon realise that it lights your forearms on fire.
Here’s how to perform the exercise:
Aim to walk around 30 steps per set and progress in weight as you get stronger.
Forearm muscles are very stubborn but you don’t want to overtrain them to the detriment of your other workouts. I like to throw in some additional forearm exercises at the ends of some of my workouts.
If you are looking to improve your grip strength without hurting your performance on other lifts follow these guidelines:
- End one of your normal workouts with one of the above forearm exercises
- Use fat gripz on your pushing and curling exercises
Depending on how many days per week you are training your forearm workouts might look slightly different but here is an example of a 5 day split following the above guidelines.
Day 1 – Chest with oversized grips
Day 2 – Back with Plate Pinches
Day 3 – Legs with barbell holds
Day 4 – Arms with oversized grips
Day 5 – Shoulders with oversized grips
Optional – rest days using hand exerciser tools.
Final Word On Forearm Workouts
If you are looking to get bigger and stronger your forearms are an integral part of the picture. Having a stronger grip will benefit you in a lot of your other movements.
Some people might not need to put much extra work into their forearms if they are following a good weightlifting routine.
But if you find your forearms needing a bit of extra attention, keep it simple and follow the exercises above to bring your forearms back up to speed.
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What do you think of this forearm workout? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.