man going from one hanging bar to another

Best Forearm Workout for Men

by Cole Matthews - Last Updated August 10, 2018

There is nothing that portrays strength, power and masculinity like a massive, hard as concrete, pair of forearms. Unfortunately, you don’t see too many of them around. That’s because the forearm is one of the most undertrained body-parts that exists. In this article we aim to help you remedy that situation with the most result-producing forearm workout that exists.

Forearm Anatomy

In order to develop the key forearm characteristics of grip and solidity you must work for balanced strength around the associated forearm joints.

There are six forearm motions that you need to be aware of. They are grouped in pars:

• wrist flexion and extension
• wrist abduction and adduction
• forearm supination and pronation

In addition to these we should also consider finger flexion and extension.

Each of the above motions is the result of individual forearm muscles working together in groups. Muscle groups work against one another in pairs in order to stability. This is similar to the way guy wires on opposite sides of a tent pole support each other.

There is, however, one odd muscles group that does not work in partnership with another muscle. This is the brachioradialis. It has no muscle group working against it in the forearm. The brachioradialis works with two upper arm muscles, the biceps and the brachialis to bend the elbow. Their opposing muscle group, the triceps, is located in the upper arm.

Any comprehensive forearm program should aim to achieve development all of the major forearm muscles. Achieving balanced development requires devoting equal effort to the opposing muscle groups. Only with such a balanced approach will you achieve functional strength – and massive forearms as well. As an additional benefit, balanced forearm development will greatly reduce the risk of injuring your wrists during athletic pursuits.

Of the six forearm movements, four of them – wrist flexion extension, wrist adduction / abduction – result mainly from four muscles working together in different groups. The remaining two movements – forearm supination / pronation -results primarily from three other forearm muscles working in groups.

• Flexion at the elbow is governed by the brachioradialis.

• Flexion of the fingers is governed by the flexor digitorum (finger flexors)

• Extension of the fingers is governed by the extensor digitorum (finger extensors)

The Importance of Forearms for Exercise

The strength of your grip is the thing that allows you to hold on. If you are a weight trainer, the grip on the bar is what determines whether your set will continue or fall short. You will not get a good workout if you have a weak grip.

If your grip is weak when you are working kettlebells, dumbbells or barbells, you will drop the weight before the working muscle group has been fully exhausted. You’ll never be able to train to your full capacity.

Outside of the gym setting, your grip strength is the link between holding and letting go. We’ve all seen the movies where the hero is dangling off the edge of a building as their grip slowly gives out on them, finger by finger. Usually, they’re rescued just in the nick of time.

In real life, you’re more likely to be carrying a heavy suitcase or climbing a rope, your success in carrying out your task will have a lot to do with how strong your grip is.

Why is grip strength important for your workout?

• If you can’t maintain your grip on the barbell or dumbbell when you’re working out, you will not be able to continue pumping out the reps. Failing grip is often the reason that people stop short on their sets. The result is that the target muscle group does not get sufficiently worked.
• When you are able to make your grip stronger, you will allow yourself to get a more effective workout on every single body part. At the same time, you’ll be building a pair of huge, powerful forearms.
• The power of your grip is very important to be able to perform in many sports. Whether you’re playing tennis, basketball or squash, the quality of your grip is a key performance indicator.

Won’t my general workout develop my forearms?

• A lot of people who train with weights think that they will be able to develop an awesome set of forearms as a spillover effect from their training of other parts of the body. Although this would be nice, it’s not the case.
• To really develop your grip strength, you need to train for it separately. Doing squats and lunges won’t develop your calves. In the same way, hitting the biceps and triceps will not build up your forearms. They need specialized attention.
• One mistake that a lot of trainers make is to rely too much on such lifting aids as hooks and straps. These devices take the pressure off the wrist and forearm when doing heavy weight work. But when you start using them, you take your grip out of the equation. It never develops. That means that you will always be reliant on these artificial aids – that’s not a good thing!
• One way that you can maximize the effect on your grip of your dumbbell and barbell training is to grip the bar as tightly as you can. Whether your bench pressing or dead-lifting, squeeze the bar as tightly as possible to work the forearms. You will also be helping to stave off injury to the wrist.

Weight Resistance Workout

Warm Up

You’ll need two dumbbell bars for this warm-up exercise. Hold the dumbbells in the center, one in each hand. Extend your arms out to the sides, so that the bars are about 18 inches from your torso. Grip the bars as tight as possible and twist them back and forth at a rate of about one back / forth twist per second.

Continue for 60 seconds.

The Exercises

Wrist Curls

Grab a barbell, thumbs up, with your hands about six inches apart. Straddle an exercise bench and let about half of your forearms extend over the end. Brace your arms against the inside of your knees. Let your wrists bend back and slightly open your fingers. Allow your elbows to come off the bench at the bottom of the stretch. Now curl the weight up as far as you can go.

You will make this exercise much more effective by gripping the bar as tightly possible throughout the motion.

Reverse Wrist Curls

Take a slightly wider than shoulder width grip on a barbell, palms down. Place your forearms on your knees as you sit on an exercise bench. Your wrists should be just beyond your knees. Your forearms should be at a slight diagonal so that your elbows are just outside of your thighs.

In the starting position, your elbows should be up off your legs with your wrists bent down. Now simultaneously bring your wrists up and rotate your elbows in. Your forearms should end up parallel to each other with your elbows down against your thighs.

Again, it is very important that you maintain a very tight grip on the bar as you perform this exercise.

Behind-the-Back Wrist Curls

Place a barbell on a bench about 2-3 inches from the end of the bench. Straddle the bench with your palms facing back. Bend forward and down and pick up the bar with hands shoulder-width apart.

Partially straighten up so that your forearms are against the outside of your thighs and the bar is hanging in space behind you. Narrow your grip slightly by sliding your hands toward one another.

Grip the bar tightly and curl it up as high as you can. Hold the top position for a second and then slowly lower to the start position.

Reverse Curls

Stand with your knees slightly bent, holding a barbell with your palms down. Your hands should be shoulder width apart. Without using momentum, lift the weight until it touches your upper chest. Focus on isolating and working the forearms. Your elbows should come slightly forward as you lift. They do not, however, move out to the side. Slowly lower the bar and repeat.

The next three exercises make use of the single-ended dumbbell (SED). To make an SED simply take the weights off one end of an adjustable dumbbell.

SED Wrist Abduction

Stand erect, holding the dumbbell as close to the unweighted end as possible. The weight should be in front of you. Keeping your grip tight, lower the bar until it is pointing downwards. Your elbow, thumb and the weights on the dumbbell should fall on a straight line. Bending only at the wrist, curl the bar up as high as it will go.

Lower.

Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.

SED Wrist Adduction

Stand erect, holding the dumbbell as close to the unweighted end as possible. The weight should be behind you. Keeping your grip tight, lower the bar to the point where it is pointing downward. Your elbow, thumb and the weight of the dumbbell should fall on a straight line. Bending only at the wrist, curl the bar up as far as it would go.

Lower.

Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.

SED Wrist Twists

Sit on a bench, holding the dumbbell as close to the unweighted end as possible. The weight should be in front of you. Keeping your grip tight, lower the bar until it is pointing downwards. Brace your forearm on the bench (not your knee – it is too unstable). Keep your wrist locked so the bar forms a 90-degree angle to your arm. Rotate your forearm, lowering the weight to the side as far as it would go, first to the inside and then to the outside.

Repeat.

You should feel an intense stretch along the edge of the bone on the thumb side of your forearm. Be careful to control the weight throughout the motion. Letting it flop from one side to the other can result in strained wrist tendons.

Finger Extensions

Cup your left hand over the back of your right hand, with both hands pointing towards you. You should have contact along the whole length of your fingers. Providing moderate resistance with the palm of your left hand, completely straighten the fingers of your right hand.

Repeat for the desired number of reps. Switch hands and follow the same procedure.

The Workout

Dumbbell Bar Warm Up 1 Minute
Wrist Curls 8 reps
Reverse Wrist Curls 8 reps
Behind-the-Back Wrist Curls 8 reps
SED Wrist Abductions 8 reps
SED Wrist Adductions 8 reps
Finger Extensions 15 reps each hand

Complete 3 circuits of this circuit. Move through the circuit with as little rest as possible. Rest for two minutes between each circuit.

Body Weight Workout

Single Handed Dead Hangs

Primary Target Muscle: Forearm Flexors
Secondary Focus: Biceps Brachii

1. Grip the chin up bar with both hands and hang loosely.
2. Release one hand so that you are supporting your entire body weight with just one arm.
3. Hang for as long as possible.
4. Repeat with the other arm.

Chair Curls

Primary Target Muscle: Forearms Flexors
Secondary Focus: Forearm Extensors

For this exercise, you will need a simple dining room chair.

1. Grab the chair as it facing away from you by placing your palms, facing up, through the backrest.
2. Curl the chair towards you by pulling your hands toward your forearms. Tense the top contracted position before extending the wrist back down.

Perform 3 sets to failure. If you can get more than 20 reps on each set, use a heavier chair.

Chair Reverse Curl

Primary Target Muscle: Forearm Extensors
Secondary Focus: Forearm Flexors

Use the same chair as on the last exercise.

1. Grab the chair as it is facing away from you by placing your palms, facing down, through the back rest.
2. Curl the chair up by flexing your forearms. Keep your elbows in at your side and focus on feeling the movement through the forearms.

Perform 3 sets to failure. If you can get more than 20 reps on each set, use a heavier chair.

Summary

You have now got two awesome workouts that you can utilize to build up the strength, size and gripping power of your forearms. Because you use your grip when you train your other body parts, you only need to do the weights workout once per week. The body weight workout can be done when you aren’t able to get to the gym. In addition, throw in an extra bodyweight workout every two weeks in order to maximize your gains.

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