train the forearms - Exercises and tips

Vital, worked forearms change upper body proportions and help improve technique and increase the effectiveness of other exercises, including grip strength.

Forearm training is beneficial for experienced professionals and athletes, and beginners. Since the forearms receive a static load in most barbell and dumbbell exercises, their strength is not sufficient to fully balance the wrists.

Forearms like Popeye, the sailor

There is a tendency to believe that the circumference of the forearm does not change and remains constant throughout life (remember that the theory of somatotypes is based on this, which determines the predominant body type based on the width of the wrist); the practice shows that the forearms can be worked successfully.

Developed forearms change the figure’s proportions, which includes helping to focus on larger arms. The most illustrative example is the famous cartoon character, the sailor Popeye; however, as we remember, its secret was the absorption of spinach.

In contrast, weak forearms reduce performance during horizontal bar exercises (mainly chin-ups) and basic barbell exercises and, in particular, all types of dumbbell exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders.


Let us make a reservation that the name “forearm” can be mistakenly perceived as a group of muscles located in front of the shoulder; However, in reality, talking about the powers of the forearm boils down to talking about the forces near the wrists.

The forearms are made up of many relatively large and small muscle groups, including the brachioradialis muscle (the arm bends at the elbow joint) and the wrist flexors and extensors. The flexors are on the inside of the wrist and the extensors on the outside.


How to train your forearms? – Exercises and tips

Rope climbing is one of the best exercises for developing forearm strength. Next on the list of the most effective are horizontal bar exercises that consist of holding or lifting the body weight using the muscles of the back, arms, and wrists.

However, it is true that most “conventional” arm exercises only put indirect stress on the forearms; Most of the time, this is a static hold, while training the forearm muscles should involve flexion and extension of the wrist joint.

That is, the need for isolated forearm training; it is better if you perform exercises with a rope and a horizontal bar. Isolation exercises train the muscles of the forearms to fall into three categories:

  1. Barbell exercises

The main advantage of working your forearms with a barbell is that the muscles of the left and right arms are equally involved in the movement, allowing you to train symmetrically. The emphasis on the flexor muscles is on the palm faces upwards when performing the exercise; if the palm faces downwards, the extensors.

  1. Dumbbell exercises

Training the forearms with dumbbells (although it copies barbell exercises) increases control over the execution of the movement. You can do the exercises with one hand alternately or with both hands together. You can supplement the lift with a smooth, controlled rotational motion.

  1. Exercise with rotation

The third type of forearm exercise is muscle work, emphasizing wrist rotation. Take a meter rope, connect one end with a 5-7 kg dumbbell, the other with an empty handle of a folding dumbbell. Then stand up straight, grasp the hold with both hands, and, making rotational movements, wind the rope with the weight attached to the dumbbell handle.

How often to work your forearms?

Suppose you want to increase the strength of the muscles of the wrists and forearms. It is enough to add 3-to 4 isolation exercises for this group of muscles, including them on the training day of the back or arms (and acting at the end of the training, when the main muscles have already been worked).

Note that the choice of exercises should be based on the personal program and the individual characteristics of the physique. The degree of muscle development and muscle hypertrophy of the forearms varies significantly from one athlete to another, depending on several factors.

Begin by doing three sets of light-weight forearm exercises and 12-15 reps, gradually increasing your working weight and reducing the number of agents to 8-10. However, always remember that training your forearms with hefty weights increases the risk of injury.


Training the forearm muscles can be helpful for both professional athletes and beginners: developing the wrist muscles allows you to focus on the large arms (creating the Popeye sailor effect). It will enable you to increase performance in basic exercises with A bar.

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