Workout Routine for Big Forearms and a Crushing Grip
What is the best way to build your forearms? Wrist curls and extensions? Well, those are certainly the most popular methods but that’s only for a lack of creativity and the sad relegation of forearms to a silent bodypart in the quest for a better physique. It’s time to get your forearms growing. And there are far more ways to do it than you might think.
While hang-holding objects for grip is reliable for building a vise-like grip, for size improvement, you need to follow the same basic rules of development that you use for your other muscles: use heavier weight, perform fewer reps and add lots of volume to your program.
Sure you can do the standard wrist curls and extensions with heavy dumbbells or even a few sets of hammer curls. Or, you can do a few extra things and really see your forearms grow. First, check out clubbells. While most gyms do not have them, you can get yourself a couple different sizes and do some hammer extensions and flexions (known as abduction and adduction) as well as pronating and supinating your arm extended out from supports.
If you don’t want to buy clubbells, disassemble one side of your dumbbell or grab a short-bar attachment and you are ready to rock.
Another underused method of building grip and forearm strength is the towel pull-up. Hang a towel over a high bar, grab tight at either end and do your pull-ups.
Another solid forearm incorporator is the fat bar, a standard length barbell that is a little thicker in diameter than the standard 1-inch Olympic barbell. You perform exercises with a fat bar just the same except that the barbell is much harder to hold since your thumb and fingers can’t overlap. This forces the wrist flexors to fire on every rep just to keep your grip.
For the following workouts, treat your forearms like you would your biceps and triceps. Hit them hard for 8-12 reps using a challenging weight for 3-4 sets on a variety of exercises.
1. Farmer’s Carry
The farmer’s carry is an essential exercise to build a vice-like grip and powerful forearms. It also develops a stronger core and improves your shoulder stability.
Grab a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, stand tall, and start walking. Keep your abs braced, your chest tall and your shoulders pulled back at all times.
To use this as a warmup drill to stimulate total-body stability, do 2-3 sets for 20 yards. Or save it until the end as a brutal finisher and carry the weights as far as you can for 10 minutes.
2. Trap Bar Carry
A trap bar carry lets you to carry much more weight than a farmer’s carry, which increases your forearm strength and total-body stability.
Load a trap bar with a heavy weight, stand inside, lift it up, and start walking. Stay as tall as you can and keep your abs tight and your shoulders pulled back.
To maximize your grip strength, do 2-3 sets for 15 yards. Or save it until the end as a brutal finisher and carry the weights as far as you can for 10 minutes.
3. Towel Pullups
Pullups already build a strong grip and thick arms. Gripping a towel instead of the bar, however, skyrockets the work on your forearms—now, you have to crush the towels just to stay up and squeeze even tighter to pull yourself up. Don’t be surprised if you can only do one or two on your first try.
Wrap two towels around a pullup bar. Grabbing a towel in each hand, perform your pullups, keeping your chest up and your shoulders down as you rise. If this is too hard, however, start with just one hand grabbing a towel and the other hand grabbing the pullup bar. Then, alternate sides.
4. Plate Curls
The next step to big, menacing forearms is to increase how hard your fingers can pinch together. Train this grip by varying the way you hold your weights.
Instead of doing a bicep curl with a dumbbell, use a plate and grab it by its end. Do 5-6 sets of 4-8 reps; if you can do more, use a heavier plate.
5. Pinch Carries
Pinch carries activate your forearms by forcing you to squeeze your fingers so the plates don’t separate. You must actively pinch two plates (or more) together so they don’t slip.
Grab two plates and pinch them together with the smooth-side out—do this in both hands. Stand tall as tall as you can, tighten your core, and walk. To pack on your forearm size, do 2-3 sets for 15 yards.
6. Single-arm Bottoms-up Kettlebell Press
Blast your forearms by holding a kettlebell upside down. You’ll have to pulverize the handle just to keep the kettlebell stable and balanced, and as you press overhead, you’ll also tighten all the muscles in your body to drive force from the ground to your arm.
Grab a kettlebell in the bottoms-up position: holding the handle with the round, weighted part above your hand. Squeeze the handle, brace your abs, tighten your glutes and press the kettlebell straight overhead. Do 6 reps on each side for 3-4 sets.
7. Fat Grip Dumbbell Rows
Use a thicker bar to build huge forearms because it forces you to squeeze harder just to hold the same amount of weight and elevates your neural drive.
Place a Fat Grip around the dumbbell handle. (If you don’t have a Fat Grip, wrap a small towel around the handle.) Place your right hand and knee on a bench, grab the dumbbell, and pull your shoulder blade inward while pulling your elbow to your ribcage. Do 8 repetitions and repeat on the other side. Do 3-4 sets.
If you want to get strong and add a ton of mass. you need to build powerful forearms. Forearms might seem like they don’t have anything to do with leg exercises or back exercises, but a strong grip is essential to almost every pushing and pulling workout. Strong forearms mean you’ll be able to squeeze your weights harder, engage more muscles, and generate more force in every move. Over time, stronger forearms will allow you to increase your numbers on exercises that seem unrelated like the bench press, deadlift. and barbell row—great if you’ve seen your numbers plateau and you’re wondering how to get an extra boost. You’ll also increase your overall strength and muscle mass.
BY DAVID SANDLER, MS, CSCS*D Source