The 5 Most Effective Exercises for Increasing Forearm Size and Strength
Continue reading to find out which exercises you should do to increase forearm size and strength.
Forearms are similar to the calves of the arm. You can have well-developed biceps and triceps but an unbalanced physique if your forearms are underdeveloped.
How do you increase the size and strength of your forearms?
Increasing forearm size and strength is simple, despite the complexity of the forearm’s anatomy. • Continuing to lift heavy weights, with a particular emphasis on pulling and curling movements, will yield results.
• Including forearm accessory work after your main lifts.
Calves and forearms are treated differently than other muscle groups for some reason. People appear to believe that forearms and calves respond to training differently than other muscle groups.
However, progressive overload, as with all muscle groups, is the primary determinant of muscle hypertrophy and strength development.
What rep range is best for increasing forearm size and strength?
In general, a combination of high and low reps works best for size and strength gains.
A recent meta-analysis concluded that muscle growth is similar regardless of rep range as long as: • Total volume is equated for • You train close to failure
• You’re using a weight that’s at least 30% of your 1RM.
A mix of high and low reps is simply the simplest way to ensure you hit these variables.
The exercises that will work best to increase forearm size and strength will be determined by your physiology, current or previous injuries, and current routine.
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The forearm’s anatomy
To address how to properly train forearms, we must first understand the anatomy of the forearm.
The forearm muscles are intricate, with both superficial and deep muscles. To put it simply, the flexors of the forearm are located on the anterior side of the forearm.
Flexor muscles are primarily responsible for finger and wrist flexion, but they are also responsible for wrist pronation and adduction.
The extensors are located on the forearm’s posterior side. Extensor muscles perform the opposite function of flexor muscles and are primarily responsible for finger and wrist extension.
Extensor muscles also aid in supination and abduction of the wrist. Wrist abduction and adduction are caused by both flexors and extensors.
What is the most effective way to increase forearm size and strength?
Handgrip strength is strongly correlated with forearm size, according to one study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy.
This isn’t surprising, but it shows that sagging forearms can cause more than just cosmetic issues.
A lack of forearm strength may be preventing you from progressing on other lifts that require a certain level of grip strength (such as the double overhand grip deadlift).
Many people argue that forearm isolation training is unnecessary if you regularly lift barbells and dumbbells. For some people, compound movements are sufficient for forearm development.
People who lack good forearm genetics, on the other hand, will need to use isolation movements to significantly increase forearm size.
According to one study, subjects who did forearm training in addition to their regular lifting routine experienced greater forearm strength gains than those who only did resistance training.
Despite the fact that regular lifting increases forearm development, the researchers concluded that direct work through isolation exercises yields the best results.
So, what are the best forearm exercises for size and strength?
Exercise 1: Barbell Suitcase Isometric Hold (improves grip strength and abductor + adductor involvement) This exercise is ideal for targeting all forearm muscles and improving overall grip strength.
Simply hold the center of a bar with one hand and prevent it from tipping over on one side to perform this exercise.
By concentrating on balancing the barbell, you will activate your forearm abductors and adductors, which will aid in bar stabilization. This exercise is fantastic because it is difficult to target these muscles.
You’ll also notice a lot of oblique involvement, which occurs to keep you from falling to one side.
To advance this exercise, simply add more weight or try to hold the bar for a longer period of time.
This isometric hold can also be performed while walking (similar to a Farmer’s walk), which increases the demand for stabilization.
Although this exercise will improve grip strength, we should also incorporate some dynamic movements to maximize forearm hypertrophy.
Standing Wrist Curls (Exercise 2) (flexors of the forearm)
This is your best bet for working and strengthening the flexors on the anterior side of the forearm.
Simply hold a bar behind your back, let it drop to your fingertips by extending them, and then curl your fingers and wrists upward to bring the weight back up.
Because both actions of the forearm flexors are important, simultaneous finger and wrist flexion will allow for a better contraction.
To advance in this exercise, simply use a heavier bar as you gain strength.
I prefer this exercise to bench wrist curls because it requires less wrist flexibility and puts less strain on the wrist joint, which is prone to injury.
If you’re prone to wrist injuries, I’d recommend doing this exercise exclusively.
Standing wrist extensions are the third exercise (Extensors of the forearm)
I recommend alternating these standing wrist extensions with standing wrist curls.
Both of these exercises are similar, but doing both will ensure that you develop your extensors and flexors in a balanced manner.
Hold the bar with an overhand grip and extend your wrists upward, then back down to the neutral position to perform this exercise. You are welcome to use dumbbells.
Reverse curls are the fourth exercise (brachioradialis)
This exercise will help target the brachioradialis, a prominent forearm muscle that contributes to overall forearm mass.
Your genetics will determine how prominent the brachioradialis is in your forearm, as genetics determines both how low the muscle inserts and how quickly it can grow.
You can improve this muscle regardless of your genetics by performing reverse curls.
Due to the pronated grip used in this study, this exercise increases the involvement of the brachioradialis while decreasing the use of the biceps.
Biceps are still used in the movement, but far less than in a traditional bicep curl because they are mechanically disadvantaged with this grip.
The brachioradialis, unlike other forearm muscles, does not cross over the wrist joint, so it cannot be trained solely through wrist flexion or extension.
A reverse curl movement with elbow flexion is essential for forearm development.
Wrist Rollers (Exercise 5)
This final movement can be used as a finishing exercise to increase metabolic stress and fatigue your forearms.
Grab a bar and rotate it forward as quickly as you can for 30 to 60 seconds to complete this exercise. Rotate the bar backwards quickly, and then rotate it backwards as quickly as possible for 30-60 seconds.
This exercise works both the flexors and extensors of the forearm in a single set. Simply use a heavier bar over time to progress.
Because this is a finishing exercise, increasing the weight may be more difficult than increasing the weight during your primary movements at the start of your workout because you will be fatigued.
How to Work Forearm Training Into Your Existing Routine
So, how do you work forearm training into your daily routine? I propose the following…
Include reverse curls in your current arm workout (e.g. arm day, pull day). If you have an arm day or a pull day, include reverse curls in your workout.
Forearms respond best to training 2-3 times per week, according to a study on high-frequency and low-frequency handgrip training.
To avoid any initial wrist pain, use lighter weights and higher reps for wrist movements.
Make sure to do these exercises after your upper body workouts to avoid tiring out your grip strength before you begin your workout.
A weekly forearm workout might look something like this:
The forearms are similar to the abs. Some people are born with them, while others are not.
As with all muscle groups, your muscle insertions and genetics will influence some of your results.
Regardless of these (outside of your control) factors, proper training and progression will help you achieve results.
How to Get Bigger Forearms Quickly (3 Science-Based Tips)
Read this article if you want well-developed and thicker forearms. Here, I’ll go over three simple, science-backed tips that will teach you how to get bigger forearms quickly.
One of the most important features you’ll want to achieve is thick, well-developed forearms. They not only make your arms look better, but they also help to strengthen your grip and allow you to lift heavier objects.
However, most people don’t realize how many forearm muscles there are when they try to strengthen and grow bigger forearms. And what they’re in charge of……so they conclude that a few sets of forearm curls and wrist extensions are all they need.
Although these exercises can be beneficial, if you want to maximize your forearm gains, you should incorporate forearm exercises that allow you to:
1. Target all of the forearm muscles, and 2. Optimize their movement functions.
In this article, I’ll show you how to do it the right way with three simple tips. Use them, and you’ll finally see the forearm growth you’re looking for. And in the shortest time possible!
Tip 1: Switch out your curls for “forearm focused” curls.
The first tip is very simple to put into action. Nonetheless, you will notice a significant improvement in your forearm development almost immediately. It’s simply a matter of swapping out the existing bicep curls in your forearm workout routine for more “forearm focused” curls.
It is true that traditional bicep curls work the biceps much more than the forearms. However, by making a few changes, we will be able to shift more emphasis and growth to two of your forearm muscles:
The brachioradialis and the pronator teres are the two most important muscles in the body.
This is significant because increasing the size and appearance of these two muscles will make a significant difference in the overall size and appearance of your forearms. This is due to two factors.
For starters, these muscles are located most superficially in the forearm, which means they are closest to your skin and thus the most visible and noticeable when mature. Second, they are some of the forearm’s largest muscles.
How to Get Bigger Forearms by Using the Brachioradialis and Pronator Teres Muscles
There are two options available to us.
Number One: Use a Pronated Grip.
The first thing we can do to increase the size of our forearms and wrists is to switch to a pronated grip rather than a supinated grip.
When compared to a neutral or supinated grip, a pronated wrist position when curling elicits the greatest activation of both the brachioradialis and the pronator teres muscles, according to EMG analyses such as this one from the Journal of Neurophysiology.
And it isn’t just that. This position also produces the least amount of biceps activation. That is, with this grip, you can most effectively shift tension away from the biceps and onto the forearm muscles.
So, obviously, reverse curls are a great way to accomplish this. Hammer curls are the next best option, especially because they are gentler on the wrists.
But there’s one more thing we can do to improve the effectiveness of these exercises for forearm growth. And it has to do with tinkering with the exercise’s strength curve.
Number two: Modify the Strength Curve.
Because we know from biomechanical analyses of the elbow flexors (here and here) that the brachioradialis, one of the largest forearm muscles, contributes the most when it reaches higher degrees of elbow flexion.
So, for example, within the top half of a curl. In contrast, the biceps contribute the least to the movement during this range of motion.
Curls with a strength curve that produces peak forces in the top half of the movement will develop the brachioradialis more than the biceps.
Using a form of accommodating resistance during the movement, for example, is the simplest way to achieve this type of strength curve with the reverse curl.
This can be accomplished by simply attaching a resistance band to the bar and curling against it. With this in place, the top half of the movement will be significantly more difficult than the bottom half. As a result, the brachioradialis will be effectively emphasized to a much greater degree. While also keeping the biceps to a minimum.
Tip No. 2: Do More Forearm Work
Then, to accelerate your forearm growth even further, add some additional direct forearm work to your routine. Many barbell and dumbbell movements involve an isometric contraction of the forearms, which will aid in their growth indirectly. However, research has shown that dynamic contractions that take the forearms through their entire range of motion are better for muscle growth (Study 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
So, what are the best forearm exercises to incorporate into your routine?
How to Get Bigger Forearms: The Best Forearm Exercises
We’ll want to make sure we’re hitting all of the forearm muscles. As well as their individual movement functions.
Flexibility and Extinction
So, first, we’ll target the forearm flexors and extensors. Which, as their names suggest, simply act to flex and extend the wrist.
To best work the: • Forearm flexors – Include 1 wrist flexion exercise. The behind-the-back barbell wrist curl is an excellent choice.
• Forearm extensors – Include one wrist extension exercise. Standing barbell wrist extensions and seated dumbbell wrist extensions are both excellent examples.
Although this alone will target many of the forearm muscles, it is critical that you do not stop here, as most people do. Because the forearms still have a lot of room to grow, which we can take advantage of. You can do so by incorporating some of the forearm muscles’ other movement functions aside from flexion and extension.
The Terms Adduction And Abduction
This is why we’ll move on to a forearm exercise that incorporates wrist adduction and abduction.
This will highlight seven of the forearm muscles that are designed to perform this specific movement function.
And one great exercise for this is dynamic barbell suitcase holds, in which you:
1. Place the center of a barbell at your side. then
2. Tip it forward and then back slowly.
3. Repeat for about 10 reps in each direction.
As you do so, the various forearm muscles responsible for wrist adduction and abduction will be forced to work in order to balance the weight. To advance with this exercise, simply add more weight or aim for more reps.
Another excellent exercise is to simply perform wrist abduction and adduction with cables.
1. Take a hold of the ball without any attachments.
2. Pull the cable to your side.
3. Finally, perform wrist adduction.
4. Then, with wrist abduction, do the opposite and gradually increase the weight.
You can also incorporate wrist adduction into your triceps exercises, such as at the end of a rope pushdown, to easily get in a little more work for your forearms throughout the week.
Supination and Pronation
But we’re not going to stop there. That’s because we’re still missing out on another crucial movement function that will highlight four of the largest forearm muscles, as shown below:
And it’s the forearm’s pronation and supination.
So, in order to work and grow these muscles as effectively as possible, we’ll want to include one exercise that performs the movement function of active pronation and supination.
This is easily accomplished by simply:
1. By resting your forearm on a bench,
2. Holding the bottom of a light dumbbell, 3. Rotating the dumbbell left and right for about 10 reps on each side
Again, gradually increase the weight as your strength improves.
However, by combining these five different types of forearm exercises, you will be able to effectively target all of the forearm muscles. As a result, your forearms will grow to a much greater extent than they would have otherwise.
3rd Tip: Implementation
The final tip for how to work out forearms is to figure out how you’re going to incorporate your new forearm exercises into your current routine. And there are a number of viable options.
A 2017 paper, for example, compared the effect of adding volume-matched additional forearm work at a low frequency of three times per week versus a higher frequency of five days per week. After four weeks, both groups experienced a 9% increase in grip strength and a similar significant increase in forearm size.
That is, you have the option of performing shorter, more frequent sessions for your forearms or longer, less frequent sessions. Both have advantages and disadvantages. And it ultimately depends on your preferences as well as the type of split you’re running to avoid forearm soreness interfering with your main lifts.
Sessions that are shorter and more frequent versus sessions that are longer and less frequent
Train your forearms 2-3 times per week (Lower Frequency)
• You don’t have to do them as frequently.
• Longer sessions will most likely result in more soreness
Train your forearms 4-6 times per week (Higher Frequency)
• Shorter sessions will likely result in less soreness
• They must be worked on a more frequent basis.
So, if you’re doing a push/pull/legs split, one good option might be to add two longer forearm sessions after each of your back or leg days. This is because your legs and back will most likely need to rest for a day or two, and we don’t want the soreness to carry over to your next push or pull workout.
Takeaways From How To Get Bigger Forearms
At the end of the day, no matter how you set it up, as long as you’re:
1. By incorporating tip 1 with the swaps,
2. incorporating this with the forearm routine, and
3. incorporating this into your workouts as best you can, you’ll be able to very quickly and noticeably accelerate your forearm growth as well as your overall grip strength.