“Many end up with a weakness in forearm development simply because they don’t train forearms correctly from the beginning.” Thus wrote the master of muscle, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his book The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. The forearms, though they may be smaller, are just like any other muscle in your body: they need disciplined exercise to grow. It’s important to note that, similar to the calves, forearm development is largely dependent on genetics; but chances are, if your forearms are lagging, it’s because you’re failing to execute the right exercises the right way.
THE RIGHT WAY
GET STRICT, GET RIPPED
To get your forearms to grow, you have to use strict form during all your exercises. Strict form guarantees that you’ll isolate your forearms, and the more you isolate them – the more you keep your upper arms out of the movements – the more your forearms will respond. So, take all your forearm movements nice and slow.
GO LONG TO GROW LONG
To get the most out of your workout, you have to train your forearms through the longest range of motion possible. For example, during wrist curls, you need to lower the weight as far as possible, getting a full stretch, then come all the way back up and really squeeze the muscle. Working through only some of the range of motion won’t get you anywhere, because it will only work the part of the muscle that’s being worked during other exercises. To get your forearms to grow, you have to hit the muscle where it’s weaker, then and only then will it get bigger.
GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
If you want to speed up your forearm development, use the Priority Principle. The Priority Principle suggests that muscles are best trained – and therefore best respond – when they are completely rested and able to move more weight for more reps. To use the Priority Principle on your forearms, train them by themselves on your days off, or train them on leg days when your arms are rested.
THE RIGHT EXERCISES
When it comes to working the forearms exclusively, your choice of exercises is somewhat limited. Luckily, however, your forearms get hit when you train almost every other part of your upper body, so by adding a few forearm-specific movements, you can really dig in there and watch them grow.
When planning your forearm routine, it’s important to perform exercises for each part of the forearm muscle. That’s what we’ve done for you here, with these best-of-the-best forearm movements.
Barbell Wrist Curls (Inner forearms)
This exercise is most effective from a seated position. Sitting on a bench, hold a barbell with your palms facing up. Make sure that your hands are about a half inch apart, and that your elbows are locked inside your knees. With the weight on your fingertips, your hands should be pointing toward the floor to ensure the greatest stretch and range of motion. Then, roll your hands upward until your wrists curl as high as they can go. Squeeze the forearms throughout the entire range of motion.
Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls (Upper forearms)
This exercise is practically identical to the barbell wrist curls (above) with one exception: your palms are facing down instead of up. Sit on the bench and lock you elbows inside your knees. The weight should be down at your fingertips and your wrists bent toward the floor. Curl the bar upward, squeezing the forearm muscles the entire time. Bring your wrists up as far as they’ll go, and then slowly bring the weight down to the starting position. Take these slow because they should really burn!
Reverse Barbell Curls (For forearm mass)
Take the barbell and hold it down at your thighs, gripping it at shoulder’s width. Make sure that you have a reverse grip, which means that your palms are facing your legs, not away from them, as with regular curls. Keeping your elbows locked into your sides, slowly curl the bar upward. You should stop when your forearms are completely contracted, which means that your hands should be in line with your shoulders. With this exercise, as with the others, be sure to use a full range of motion and squeeze the forearms throughout.