5 Best Forearm Workouts and Exercises for Men

Forearm Workout 1

 

The forearms can be an afterthought in the gym. While they get some incidental love from big push/pull moves like deadlifts, presses, pull-ups, and curls, they don’t always get their own targeted sets. However, if you want to look truly muscular and all-around fit, you should consider adding some forearm and grip-strength-specific moves to your regime. These particular exercises help isolate and target the 20 muscles of the forearm, so you get that much-wanted burn. Solid forearms and good grip strength not only improve performance in the gym and other sports but also benefit everyday life. From carrying the groceries to picking up your kids and opening jam jars, your arms are well utilized. Plus, muscular forearms are sexy and a great way to show off your physique when you’re a little more covered in a t-shirt or a button-up with rolled sleeves.

 

What are Your Forearms?

Your forearms are the lower half of your arm, between the elbow and wrist. They’re made up of two bones (the ulna and radius), 20 muscles, and dozens of nerves and tendons. These muscles help you to rotate your forearm, as well as flex and extend your wrist and fingers.

 

The Benefits of Training Your Forearms?

There are many benefits to training your forearms – some are functional, and some are aesthetic. Firstly, forearm strength and grip strength go hand in hand, and both are required for regular daily activities such as carrying groceries and opening jars. As such, muscular forearms mean you’ll never struggle with the pickle jar again. Secondly, this muscle group is used in exercises that target other areas of your body. Consequently, performing moves that target your forearms specifically will help improve performance and technique in other areas of your gym routine. Finally, strong forearms (and, by extension, hands) are exceptionally sexy. While other areas such as abs, shoulders, and biceps get a lot of glory, having fit, muscular forearms is a more subtle and nuanced display of masculinity.

 
Best Forearm Workout
 

Forearm Muscles

The forearm is home to 20 muscles, which are grouped into anterior or posterior muscles. The anterior or flexor muscles are located on the inside of your arm and are responsible for twisting the forearm and flexing the wrist and fingers. You’ve got three layers of muscles here – superficial, intermediate, and deep. Meanwhile, the posterior or extensor muscles are on the outside and look after the extension of the wrist and fingers. They’re divided into superficial or deep muscles. Understanding the position and function of some of the main muscles will help you get the most out of your forearm workout.

 

Forearm Muscles

 

Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis

Located in the superficial layer of the posterior forearm, the extensor carpi radialis brevis works in associated with the extensor carpi radialis longus to extend and abduct the wrist.

 

Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus

The extensor carpi radialis longus is longer and thinner than its associate, the extensor carpi radialis brevis. However, they work together to abduct and extend the wrist.

 

Extensor Carpi Ulnaris

Another superficial posterior forearm muscle is the extensor carpi ulnaris. It works as an extensor of the wrist, as well as adducting the hand.

 

Flexor Carpi Radialis

The flexor carpi radialis sit in the superficial layer of the anterior forearm. It’s a long, relatively thin muscle that assists in flexion and abduction of the wrist.

 

Flexor Carpi Ulnaris

Sitting further out to the side of the anterior compartment is the flexor carpi ulnaris. Again, it allows you to flex your hand and adduct the wrist.

 

Flexor Digitorum Superficialis

The Flexor Digitorum Superficialis is the largest muscle of the anterior group and the only one in the intermediate level. It also splits into four tendons that run down the fingers. As such, it flexes the fingers, as well as the wrist.

 

Brachioradialis

While it sounds like the name of a dinosaur, the brachioradialis is a posterior compartment muscle that actually helps flex the elbow in association with the biceps brachii and brachialis in the upper arm.

 

Pronator Teres

Lastly, the pronator teres pronates (inward rolls) the forearm. It’s located in the superficial layer of the anterior forearm.

 

Best Forearm Workout and Exercises

If you have a well-rounded workout program that incorporates a mix of pulling and pushing moves, your forearms will indirectly get a decent workout anyway. However, if you want to work on general weaknesses, improve performance in other activities, and just look even more jacked, then specifically targeting your forearms is excellent. These forearm exercises are a great way of isolating this muscle group to focus your efforts on building strength, stamina, and mass. Add some or all of these moves into your regime, targeting your forearms one to two times per week.

 

 

1. Reverse Curls

One of the best forearm exercises to start to build mass and strength is a reverse curl. While curls traditionally target the biceps, you shift the focus to the brachioradialis by pronating your wrist to change your grip. As one of the most prominent muscles on the forearm, building size here will have you looking jacked. Tips to get the most out of this exercise include not using momentum to lift the bar and avoiding letting the bar sit on your thumbs.

 

Reverse Barbell Curls

Execution

  • Start with an easy bar or barbell loaded with your preferred weights.
  • Use a thumbless overhand grip, keeping them tucked next to your fingers rather than underneath. Doing so will prevent the bar from resting on your thumbs, shifting the focus back to the muscles you want to work.
  • Focus on pressing your four fingers into your palm as hard as comfortably possible. Slightly extended or flexed wrists can help.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart.
  • Curl the bar up to maximum elbow bend in front of your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in close to your sides.
  • Lower back to the starting position, maintaining control.
  • If you want to take it to another level, after your complete sets, add a set of top-half curls, which is where you’ll find maximum engagement.

 

Sets: 2-3
Reps: 12-15

 

2. Wrist Rollers

Wrist rollers may not look like a big impressive move, but they’re guaranteed to help build strength. This effective forearm exercise works both the anterior and posterior muscles by engaging both extension and flexion movements. Plus, it’s easy to overload by incrementally adding weights or increasing the number of sets. Engage the best form by holding your hands closer to your body. Doing so will both help prevent deltoid burnout and the urge to lead back and use momentum to help you lift the weight. Finally, if your gym doesn’t have a wrist roller, you can get one relatively cheaply online and take it with you.

 

Wrist Rollers Excercise

 

Execution

  • Load your rope up with a light weight, starting in the five to ten-pound range.
  • Stand on a box or riser, with an overhand grip on the roller’s handle, about six inches apart.
  • Keeping your elbows bent around 90-degrees, begin bringing the weight up, rolling your wrists backward.
  • At the top, resist the urge to just let the weight unroll (even though it’s fun!), and instead, lower it down using the opposite forward rolling wrist motion.

 

Sets: 1
Reps: 10-12

 

3. Farmer’s Walk

While a farmer’s walk traditionally focuses on the lower legs, it’s a great full-body workout and effective for strengthening the forearms. Holding onto the weight works your grip strength, while the motion of walking forces your core to engage to counter-balance the movement. Plus, it’s easy (in principle) to do because all you need is to walk around with heavy weights in your hands. This is also an excellent exercise to practice carrying the groceries from the car, up however many flights of stairs, and into your home.

 

Farmers Walk

 

Execution

  • Choose your desired weight in either dumbbells or kettlebells – whichever you prefer. 
  • Hold one in each hand, with your arms down by your sides.
  • Walk for however long a distance your space allows, doing laps if you need to.
  • Focus on keeping your posture upright and core engaged.
  • Continue walking until you feel your grip is about to fail. Stop just before that so you don’t drop the weight breaking a toe, tiles, or floorboard.

 

Sets: 2-3
Reps: Walk until just before grip failure

 

4. Pinch Carries

Many forearm exercises use a crush grip rather than a pinch grip. Consequently, this exercise will work your flexor digitorum superficialis and other finger flexing muscles. Another great reason to add this forearm exercise to your routine is that it gives you the ability to correct any imbalances between left and right. You can also switch up your grip to focus on specific fingers, using a thumb and single finger grip depending on your needs. Finally, this is a great exercise that translates well for other sports such as football, climbing, and wrestling, where grip strength is critical.

 

Pinch Carriers

 

Execution

  • Start with two plates in your desired weight for each hand, starting with five to ten-pound weights.
  • Pick them up, holding the two plates together in a pinch grip between your thumb and fingers.
  • Walk for however long a distance your space allows, doing laps if you need to.
  • Focus on keeping your posture upright and core engaged.
  • Continue walking until you feel your grip is about to fail, then stop, so you don’t drop the weights and potentially hurt yourself or the gym floor.
  • If you’re new to this, skip the walking until you’ve built up some strength.
  • Use chalk if you find sweat it making holding the plate difficult.

 

Sets: 2-3
Reps: Walk until just before grip failure

 

5. Dumbbell Wrist Curls

A dumbbell wrist curl is another small but intensive forearm exercise that will work on the anterior compartment muscles. It’s done while resting your arms on a bench so that you can isolate the moment to just the wrist for the best outcomes. Plus, you can easily overload by adding reps or slowing increasing the weight.

 

Dumbbell Wrist Curls

Execution

  • Kneel in front of a flat weight bench that’s set at a height where your forearm can rest comfortably across it, with your wrist over the side.
  • Work one arm at a time, and hold your chosen dumbbell with your palm facing the roof.
  • Keep the rest of your forearm flat on the bench, and curl the weight up, using just the movement in your wrist.
  • Lower the weight back down until your wrist is fully extended back.
  • If you want to work on your grip strength, too, you can let the weight roll back down to your fingertips.

 

Sets: 2
Reps: 15-20 per arm
 

Forearm Workouts FAQs

How do I make my forearms bigger?

Increase the size of your forearms by incorporating forearm and grip-specific exercises into your routine one to two times per week. Exercises like reverse curls, wrist rollers, and pinch carries isolate the muscle group to allow you to focus your efforts on building strength and mass. However, keep in mind that this part of your body also gets an incidental workout from other push/pull exercises like deadlifts, rows, curls, and presses as well. 

What is the best exercise for your forearms?

The best exercises for your forearms include reverse curls, wrist rollers, farmer’s carries, pinch carries, and dumbbell wrist curls. 

Why are strong forearms important?

Strong forearms and, as a by-product, good grip strength are important because you indirectly use this muscle group for so many things. This includes everyday activities like carrying groceries or holding your kids, as well a most pushing or pulling exercises in the gym. As such, it’ll improve workout performance and make life easier – there’ll be no peanut butter jar you can’t open! Plus, if looking physically strong is important to you, muscular forearms are will balance out the rest of a muscular physique. 

Do pushups work for building forearms?

Regular pushups in your workout program will, by default, work the muscles in your forearms. However, if you specifically want to target this area, there are better, isolating moves that you can try, such as dumbbell wrist curls or wrist rollers. 

What workout gives you bigger forearms?

The workouts that give you bigger forearms allow you to shift the focus onto this specific muscle group. These include reverse curls, wrist rollers, pinch carries, and dumbbell wrist curls. Farmer’s walks are also excellent for focussing on grip and forearm strength while giving the rest of your body a great workout at the same time. 

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