Posted by Dayne Hudson in Muscle Building
Estimated reading time: 4mins
Let's begin by discussing forearm anatomy.
The main two categories we need to divide our forearm muscles into are the flexors and extensors.
Take a look at your flexors below:
Now, your extensors:
Our flexors are used for flexing our fingers and wrist (bending) whilst the extensors are obviously for extending.
And when we perform something like tricep pushdowns with our palms facing down, in what's called a pronated grip; our flexors are responsible for that getting our hands into that position.
And our extensors are responsible for our palms facing up in a supinated grip when we do something like barbell curls.
And how much forearm training we need really depends on a few things, notably genetics.
If we're naturally born with large forearms, training them doesn't seem to make much sense, as they get worked when we train our back, shoulders, arms, and chest heavily.
Biceps curls, dumbbell rows, military presses and bench presses will all work your forearms.
But it's critical to remember this; adopting the principle of progressive overload with your back, chest and arm training will do you wonders.
Forearms aside, doing this will help you grow those muscles a whole lot faster.
For example, bench pressing 100 kilograms last week and 105 this week is progressive overload in action.
Research shows we can practice progressive overload in the following four ways:
Additional research reveals number one is the most popular progressive overload method.
So, by training properly, your forearms should be growing with respect to the rest of your upper body.
But chances are if you're reading this article, it's because you're looking for forearm exercises to get you to a better place than your current training has achieved.
The first one is the barbell hold.
As you can see below, hold the bar for up to 20 seconds (or longer if you can!) with a challenging weight.
Rest for up to 2 minutes before starting another set. You'll find your strength might increase from month to month quite quickly, so don't be shy to load up the bar more, and practice the aforementioned progressive overload!
The other great exercise is the dumbbell farmers walks, as seen below.
Be sure to choose a very challenging weight and walk for around 10-15 metres (one set). You can lift much more weight than you think here.
After walking, you'll find your forearms will get very tired. Increase the weight more and more as time goes on to ensure growth.
The other strategy that works your forearms is training your hand grip.
And we can do that by using a hand exerciser, as seen below:
You can be watching TV and performing reps with this exercise!
You simply squeeze the tool for five or six sets for around 10-12 reps. Rest for the usual 1:30-2 minutes between sets afterwards.
Lastly, plate pinchers are another great way:
Once you can comfortably hold the plates for twenty seconds, grab another plate the same size and keep pinching!
Three sets are a good start here.
The bottom line is that forearms are largely genetic, but focusing on training your upper body properly with the principle of progressive overload, will give you your best chance at achieving large forearms. We're talking about back, shoulder, chest and arm training. If that's not quite cutting it, then dumbbell holds and farmers walks are a great strategy. Just ensure you aren't shy about lifting a heavy amount of weight; you're stronger with these exercises than you think! The other way to train your forearms is by training your handgrip; with a hand exerciser or by plate pinchers.