A fully ripped body just isn’t complete without big forearms. Beyond mere appearance, there are many good reasons to work on forearm strength and muscle development. This is a part of the body most fail to consider when working out, but it’s important.
One reason we don’t often focus on forearm strength training is that a good, general program does hit most of the small muscles of this part of the arm. When you’re lifting comprehensively, you’re doing a pretty good job of strengthening the forearm.
Of course, you can always do more. Focus on the forearm muscles will build strength and hypertrophy, improve overall strength, get better grip strength, and even manage or reduce hand, wrist, and elbow pain.
This important but often overlooked part of the body can be developed and strengthened like any other, but why focus on it? There are a few reasons that you shouldn’t overlook the forearms, and in some cases really put some effort into developing them:Look Ripped, All Over
One reason is simply superficial, but there is nothing wrong with that. For your hypertrophy clients, those interested in bigger muscles and greater definition, skipping the forearms means an incomplete look. Picture bulky, impressive biceps, triceps, and shoulders, with skinny little forearms.Improve Functional Strength and Movements
Another good reason to work on forearm strength is to develop overall better functional strength. The body is a kinetic chain, and all the muscles, big and small, plus connective tissue, joints, and bones, work together. By developing strength in all muscles, you move more efficiently and safely, minimizing injuries and pain.
No muscle should be overlooked in this process, including the forearms. There are more muscles in there than most people realize, and they connect to and impact movements in the elbows, wrists, and hands. Bigger forearms help with daily tasks, like opening jars and carrying heavy objects, and in sports like golf and basketball.Forearm Strength = Greater Grip Strength
Grip strength is one of those functional movements that forearm workouts will improve. It helps with those practical things like lifting objects and opening jars, but grip strength is important in other ways. In the gym, good grip strength will allow you to lift more with weights and equipment, which in turn improves overall strength.
Researchers have also found a compelling health reason to work on grip strength. In a study of over 140,000 people, decreases in grip strength were associated with a decline in health. Every eleven-pound decrease in strength led to a 17 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease. The increased risk of dying from heart attack and stroke was seven and nine percent. (1)How to Get Bigger Forearms and Less Pain at the Same Time
Finally, there may be rehabilitative reasons to work on forearm strength. Pain in the forearm can result from injuries and accidents, overuse injuries, nerve damage, and arthritis. Strengthening the muscles involved can help manage pain and speed recovery from injury or surgery.
For the best results, do these exercises two to three times per week. Once per week strength training isn’t adequate to develop bigger, stronger muscles efficiently. Building forearm strength and size can take some time, so be patient. But, with focused efforts, you should see some results in a month or two.
Use a variety of these exercises, some with machines, some with weights, and some with only bodyweight, to hit all the muscles of the forearms and around the wrists, hands, elbows. You need the range of exercises to include all the way the wrist and forearm move and flex. And, by changing up the routines, you’ll challenge the muscles more and get faster results.Do What You’re Already Doing, With Modifications
It’s important to understand that many of the exercises you’re already doing in the gym are improving forearm and grip strength: deadlifts, chin-ups, pull-ups, and others. Lifting heavy things, including your own body, using your hand grip, will build forearm strength.
A simple modification makes these workouts you’re already doing even more effective at building that strength. Make the barbell handle bigger with a specialist grip. Adding this increases the width of the bar and forces you to hold with a stronger grip, working the forearm muscles.
Another simple change that really develops the forearms is to switch to a pronated grip. Hold the bar with the backs of the wrists facing up and palms facing down. This takes pressure off the biceps and transfers it to the forearms.Dumbbell Exercises
Use dumbbells to work on all the small muscles of the forearm. With just a few exercises, you can hit all the muscles and the ways in which the forearm moves:
Grip and forearm strength are essential for carrying heavy objects, so try these simple but challenging loaded carry exercises to develop the muscles:
There are many ways to work the forearms using a pull-up bar and some of the weight machines in the gym:
You can also use simple bodyweight exercises to work on the forearms. These are great for working out at home without a lot of equipment:
Developing massive forearms doesn’t have to limit you to lifting or simple bodyweight exercises. Those are great, and effective, but it can get boring. Rock climbing is an incredibly demanding sport that especially builds upper body strength, forearm strength, and grip strength.
If you have access to a climbing wall or gym, or the real thing outdoors, do a weekly session. It will improve strength all over and really put emphasis on forearms and grip, working every one of those little muscles.
Building forearm strength is something you can choose to do incidentally with a comprehensive strength training program. Alternatively, you can use some of these strategies to really get ripped from elbow to wrist.