Is there a way to build up forearms?


A great way to build larger forearms is by performing exercises that require grip. Examples include pull-ups, modified pushups using the grips on dumbbells, and wrist flexion & extension exercises using some sort of resistance like a band or a dumbbell.

 A combo exercise that focuses directly on the muscles of the forearm requires a light dumbbell. Take the dumbbell into your right or left hand, rest your forearm on a flat surface with your hand off the end, and start with your palm facing down. Perform 12-15 wrist extensions. Next, turn your palm 90 degrees so the top side of your thumb is facing up – and perform 12-15 repetitions (as if you’re using a hammer) Last, turn your wrist palm up and perform 12-15 wrist curls.

There are several easy exercises to build up the forearms. wrist curls - these can be done with either a dumbell in each hand or a barbell, place your forearms down your thighs so your wrist hangs over your knee or on a bench with your forearms supported, palms up, then roll the weight down to your fingertips and back up, 3 sets of 12, then try reverse wrist curls, once again support your forearms, this time flex your wrist back, like using the throttle on a motorcycle, 3 sets of 12, wrist rotations for 30 secs, rotate from side to side.

Tina Whitlock
A great way to build your forearms and to increase grip strength is with a rolling exercise. You can use a forearm developer which is basically a cord fastened to a handle with a weight dangling from it. The weight on these is interchangeable so make sure the weight is one that you can do about ten repetitions with, not to heavy or too light. You hold the handle in front of you about shoulder level, palms facing down and then you roll it up and back down again and again. Try starting with 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions. If you don’t have a forearm developer you can do the same thing with a yoga mat or heavy towel. Again hold the end of an unrolled mat or towel straight ahead, shoulder level and roll it up and back down.

At a fitness fair a few years ago I was told that I scored "excellent" marks on all tests EXCEPT for grip strength where I scored "poor." After that shot to the ego I was on a mission! Popeye here I come.

People often grip weights, bands, and bars rather loosely during their resistance training. Many times they just barely cup their fingers around the handle for minimal effort during the hold. Focus on your grip, especially when doing pulling exercises. Squeeze the weights as you lift them.  If your grip gives out before your prime movers do it can be indicative of forearm weakness.

Don't forget to curl.  Your forearm flexors (front of the forearm) assist with biceps curls when your palms are face up. Forearm extensors tend to work more when curls are done with the palms down. So, pumping up the pythons can help to build your forearm size and strength as well.

You can also choose to do isolated work for your forearms such as wrist curls and extensions until the burn halts you or your form is compromised.  Use a weight light enough to curl through a full range of motion, but heavy enough to limit you to 6-12 repetitions with each "rep" lasting about 4 seconds. Perform this for 3-5 sets with 15-30 seconds rest in between. These are guidelines to follow when looking to build hypertrophy (size) within any muscle group - forearms included.

A final suggestion, and my personal favorite, requires your forearms to increase size and strength by doing what they are designed to do - gripping.  Grab a dumbbell in each hand heavy enough to resemble a load of groceries that you struggle with and start walking.  Squeeze the dumbbells tightly in your hand and walk 30-50 yards (or back and forth across the gym floor).  Toward the end you should feel the need to put them down before they drop.  Give yourself and break and walk back. Remember to keep your shoulders back and down and the chest up tall to protect your back and shoulder girdle.

These are all techniques that I have used myself, and subsequently incorporated with my racquet sport athletes to help with their grip and racquet control. And, though I have not gone back to test my grip strength since I scored in the "poor" category, I have broken at least three keyboards just typing this answer!

Yes, REVERSE CURLS work. Use a weight you can do 10x and do 3 sets. Also keep a tennis ball in your desk and squeeze it for 30 seconds and then pulse 30x with each hand. Also grab a dumbbell and place the back of your lower arm on your quad with your hand off the end of your knee and do wrist curls- try 50x each arm and do 2 sets-get a nice deep burn.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise Programs

Types Of Exercise Programs

Types Of Exercise Programs

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.