How to get Bigger Forearms with 4 Killer Forearm Exercises

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A magazine I was reading recently showed results of a pole that was held to see which body part women found most attractive on a man.

Most of them made sense, except for one…

Forearms?

I must say I found it a little surprising to see forearms near the top of that list.

Women say that a man with big, strong forearms makes them feel safe and cared for. They say bigger forearms make a man look, well, more manly…

Who knows the thought process there – it must be the way they’re wired or something. (jk)

So taking a look at my own forearms, I see some room for improvement.

Actually, I see a LOT of room for improvement.

My forearms are pathetic. They’re small. They suck! I’m so ashamed of them I feel I should be stocking up on sweaters and hoodies. Maybe I could wrap tissue paper around them under my sleeves – I bet that would turn some heads.

Either way, my forearms are definitely not where I’d like them to be. Although I’m sure my new Visual Impact challenge will help bring them back to life, I’ve recently been on a mission to find out how to get bigger forearms.

When it comes to training forearms, I’ve always believed that there is no need for isolation exercises – no need for extra forearm work. If you think about it, majority of the exercises that we already do as part of our routine require some sort of forearm engagement. Any exercise that requires you to hold a dumbbell or a barbell engages the forearms (think deadlifts, bent over rows, barbell curls, shrugs). Exercises that require you to pull your own bodyweight cause the forearm muscles to fire (think chin-ups, pull-ups, inverse rows). I mean this alone already covers a huge list of exercises.

But then why are my forearms so shitty?

If the above is true then my forearms would be the size of cannons right now. I would be opening beer bottles with my forearms and starting every conversation by shaking forearms, not hands.

But I’m not. So obviously there’s something I’m missing here.

And I found out what it is. Let’s start with the basics…

The Anatomy of the Forearm

The primary function of the muscles in your forearm is to allow you to open and close your hand and move your wrist around. That’s it. Although the musculature within the forearm can get somewhat complex, I’m going to keep it simple and only focus on the three muscle (groups) that can really make a difference for the size and look of your forearms.

1 – Brachioradialis

This is the baddest muscle in your forearms. Its primary function is to flex your forearm at the elbow, but it also helps with supination and pronation of the forearm (turning in and out). The brachioradialis is synergistic with the brachialis and biceps brachii – which means the muscles work together to get you looking like Rambo.

Best exercise to target the Brachioradialis: Hammer Curls

Forearm Anatomy: Brachioradialis

2 – Wrist Extensors

There are 8 wrist extensor muscles located on the top of your forearm (with your palm facing the floor) that all work together to extend your wrist and open your hand. These are extremely useful when you’re about to give someone a seriously over-zealous high five.

Best exercise to target Wrist Extensors: Reverse Barbell Curl

Forearm Anatomy: Flexors and Extensors

3 – Wrist Flexors

There are 6 wrist flexor muscles located on the inside of your forearm. These muscles allow you to flex your wrist and close your hand. These are great when you’re preparing to slap someone with the back of your hand.

Best exercise to target Wrist Flexors: Wrist Curl on Bench

The Forearm Workout

So I’ve been doing some serious research to find how to get bigger forearms because I really want to get this shameful problem fixed.

I ran into a friend of mine (actually I only met him a few times) from the UW Strength and Conditioning club. I don’t know his name or where he’s from, but I do know one thing: this guy has forearms the size of my head.

So I told him about my mission to get bigger forearms and he was more than happy to give me some insight into his obviously-working strategy.

Note: I wish I had a picture of this dude’s forearms so you can see what I’m talking about here. It looks as if someone implanted large stones into his forearms. His forearms make Popeye look like Quagmire from Family Guy. It’s quite ridiculous if I might say.

So after a lengthy conversation, here’s the breakdown of the forearm workout he does. It doesn’t sound complicated, but apparently it will burn like a motherfu**er (update: it will 100% – I’ve tried it).

Forearm Exercise 1 – Reverse Barbell Curl

We start off with the reverse barbell curl. The best is to use the barbells with pre-set weight here. Pick a weight you can do for 10-12 reps. Grab the barbell with your palms facing down and simply perform a reverse curl (same motion as a regular barbell curl, only your palms are facing away from you).

Do 4-5 sets with 45 seconds of rest between each set. You won’t have to be switching weights because with the low rest periods you’ll progressively be doing fewer reps.

Rest 1 minute before moving on to the next three forearm exercises. NOTE: Exercises 2, 3 and 4 will be done in a superset fashion – one exercise right after another with no rest in between.

Forearm Exercise 2 – Straight Bar Wrist Curl

You’ll need a bench for this exercise (or something you can put your forearms on). Grab a straight bar (pre-set weight is perfect for this) and place your forearms on a bench, hands hanging off and palms facing up. Now slowly roll the bar down to your fingertips and roll them back up. Continue performing this motion until you want to cry.

Move on to exercise 3 right away.

Forearm Exercise 3 – Eazy Bar Wrist Curl

Grab a lighter eazy bar (have it ready: pre-set weights work well) and place your forearms against the bench again, hands hanging off and palms facing up. Simply perform wrist curls (no fingertip rolls here) until you want to cry. Yea, you’ll be doing a lot of crying here.

Move onto exercise 4 right away.

Forearm Exercise 4 – Hold It!

To finish off the superset, grab two heavy dumbbells and hold them until you can’t hold them anymore. That simple. Just remember to be safe.

Perform this superset for a total of 3 times with 45-60s of rest between sets.

Bonus Forearm Exercise – Hammer Curls

Although this exercise is not part of this particular forearm workout, I suggest you incorporate hammer curls into your biceps workout. The hammer curl is the single greatest exercise for targeting the Brachioradialis (see picture up above). I like to alternate my hammer curls with regular curls every time I’m training my biceps.

Hammer curls are like regular dumbbell biceps curls only you’re going to be holding the dumbbells with your palms facing each other. It looks something like this:

Forearm Exercise: Hammer Curls

That’s the workout as it was outlined to me. I’ve been doing it as part of my Visual Impact Challenge for a few weeks now and have seen some great results. I’m nowhere near the dude with the stone forearms, but I’m definitely approaching the safe, caring forearm status women seem to love.

Trust me when I say you won’t be able to feel your arms after you do this forearm workout. You won’t even be able to hold a pencil. I like to bring a workout journal with me to the gym to keep track of what I’m doing. When I look through the journal it’s easy to spot the days I worked my forearms because my writing has turned into ancient calligraphy – you can’t recognize a single letter.

If you want to incorporate this workout into your current workout routine, my recommendation is to perform these exercises on the days you work your back and biceps (or one or the other depending on how your workouts are structured).

I hope this post has given you a better idea of how to get bigger forearms. If you have any exercises or methods of obtaining massive forearms, please share them in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. Finally this is one topic I don’t need! ..haha there are two parts of my body that don’t need any extra work they are my calves and forearms!
    Seriously if the rest of my body matched these I would be the new Jay Cutler but I’m not fortunately.
    I think forearms has to do with a bit of genetics as these parts I never train specifically yet they are my best parts.
    Having said that I find the best direct exercise are the hammer curls followed by farmer’s walk and dead lifting for forearms.
    I have heard of another exercise called the suitcase lift .. grab a barbell in one hand and hold it. I haven’t done it but could work too.
    Also I consider forearms and calves similar to abs and that they need volume to make them work hard as opposed to low reps even though they it maybe heavy.
    This article layout the information very nicely.
    Raymond

    • I wish I was on the same boat as you man! I got the most stubborn forearms on the planet I think haha.

      I think genetics definitely play an important role. I’ve never truly trained forearms in isolation form myself and they’ve remained rather small – even with all the heavy lifting I’ve been doing over the years. I thought it would be enough but apparently it isn’t – that’s why I’ve moved to this forearm workout.

      Farmer’s walks are another great exercise – very similar to the ‘Hold It!” exercise I’ve outlined only you’re walking with the dumbbells. The suitcase lift works well too – I’ve seen a few guys at the gym using it effectively.

      And I think you’re right – I’ve been working in the high rep range (or as I like to call it the ‘do-it-until-you-want-to-cry’ rep range) for all my forearm exercises. Definitely getting some great results.

      Thanks for the comment Raymond!

  2. Hi Srdjan, love the article and no, I’m not one of those women. I’ve definitely heard of those exercises before but I just don’t dream of bigger forearms…haha. I’m more of a shoulder and chest gal.

    Anyway, another exercise that uses my forearms a lot are kettlebell snatches. It doesn’t fail to use those forearm muscles for sure! In fact, I always have to massage them the next day because they are so sore. It’s great because I get a total body workout with these.

    Anna D.

    • Hey Anna thanks for the comment. I can kind of understand why you wouldn’t dream of bigger forearms lol…but the real question is do you dream of your man having bigger forearms?

      I definitely agree that most kettlebell exercises thouroughly engage the forearms. But I think they are engaged in a different way. This is especially true of kettlebell swings – I’ve been doing kettlebell swing intervals for a long time and I can feel my forearms absolutely each and every time. This has given me great definition in my forearms (and arms in general) but very little growth. So I’m switching it up for a bit now and see if these exercises give me a little boost.

  3. Srdjan,

    Great post. I don’t see too much information out there on forearm workouts but maybe there should be if it really is one of the top muscles women find attractive. Personally, I don’t do a forearm-specific workout, but they get plenty of work in my normal routine especially when I’m doing stuff on the pull up bar.

    Alykhan

    • Hey Alykhan thanks for stopping by. You see I was on the same boat as you – I NEVER did forearm-specific work because I thought my forearms were getting worked through all my other exercises. But this simply hasn’t been the case – my forearms haven’t budged. So I’m testing to see if these ‘forearm-specific’ exercises will make a difference. It’s been 3 weeks and so far so good :).

  4. It sounds as though forearms are where the action is! I already work my forearms in isolation (and they are nowhere near as big as your friends) but I will definitely be incorporating the tips in this article: the superset/giant set sounds like a great idea.

    I agree with you and Raymond, I think genetics has a lot to do with this, but hey, you gotta work with what you’re given.

    Michael

    • Hey Michael, glad you found the post useful. Genetics definitely plays a key role when it comes to these stubborn muscle groups – some people simply have an easier time putting on muscle in certain places. But I think with the proper training and eating strategy anything is possible.

      You definitely gotta work with what you’re given! :)

  5. Such an interesting and wonderful content…Keep it up!!

  6. Hi Srdjan Popovic,
    Yeah your welcome….I’m looking forward to visit here again and read more of your post..Keep it up!!:)

  7. Hey Srdjan.

    LOVE the new look man! :-)

    great post too, very knowledgeable, very informative. Many of my athletes –for example hockey players– get tortured regular with killer forearm and grip work! They “love” it! LOL! :-D

    Keep up the good work man,

    Mark

    • Hey Mark thanks for stopping by and thanks for the kind words! Do you by chance have any sample forearm and grip workouts that you can share? I’d love to compare them to some of the stuff I’ve been doing. Thanks!

  8. Interesting, all these years I thought it was the biceps ;) Regarding Brachioradialis you completely got it right. It is a muscle of the forearm capable of both pronation and supination, depending on the position of the forearm. Brachioradialis is a posterior compartment muscle consequently innervated by the radial nerve.

  9. …hi all… i need a little guidance here…since childhood i used to do hand grips…i was fond of crushing grip display at school days…i used to do like 1000 to 3000 reps a day….now i ve to pay 4 my childhood mistakes…my forearms r so stubborn that even with killing workouts…they dont grow…so now what to do?

    • Hey Jamal. I apologize for the late response (things get busy on this side). 3000 reps a day? That’s insane! I would recommend changing things up. Move away from forearm isolation and focus on compound exercises that incorporate the forearms (such as deadlifts). This might put some life back in those babies!

  10. Alejandro Rosales says:

    Hi Srdjan! I have a question regarding the workout: let’s say I’m going to train my forearms tomorrow: do I do the superset 3 times, resting 45 seconds between each superset? Meaning doing the 4 set of reverse wrist curls, then the finger rolling, and then the wrist curls; and after done with that rest 45 seconds and begin the process again, repeating for three times? Congratulations for your blog and thank you for all the info

    • Hey Alejandro! I first start with the reverse curls and do those on their own (all 4 or 5 sets). After I’m done those I’ll rest for a bit and move on to the superset of straight bar wrist curls, eazy bar wrist curls and holds. Let me know if that makes sense or not!

  11. i also have a pretty weak fore arm, and it is damn skinny . my forearms are 11″” inches unflexed and the middle portion of forearm is so skinny that the forearm looks a pear shape. i can 12 solid pullups. my foreams look smaller than rest of the guys

    • Some people are just rigged to have smaller forearms. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Give these exercises a try and focus on the cumulative fatigue.

  12. Hi. This is an excellent website, and thanks for posting this information online. Like yourself, I also believe that isolated forearm exercises aren’t always necessary, if one is doing barbell compound exercises (as you mentioned). So I am curious as to know why you changed your mind. Do you feel now that compound exercises are not enough and for good arms one must do isolation exercises?

    • Hey Rafat. Great question. I wouldn’t say I changed my mind. I still believe that, for the most part, pulling exercises such as barbell rows, deadlifts, chin-ups, etc. are more than enough to build solid forearms. But it doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone. There are always exceptions to any rule. I’ve been doing a lot of pulling exercises and I found that my forearms remained small. So I decided to test out something different and I found that these isolation exercises really helped put some size on my forearms.

      The moral of the story is not everything that may work for me will work for you. You constantly need to be trying and testing until you find what works for you and your body.

  13. How exatcly do i do the hold it exercise??

    Very good article btw

  14. Hi! Thank you for this article!
    I’ve only few questions:
    1) Can you tell how well did this workout work for you? Did you notice big improvements?
    2) Must I do this workout only once a week? Would it be good to rest a week after three of training, as i usually do for other muscles?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Hey Lele, no problem!

      1-It worked somewhat well for me. I gained some size in my forearms, but not as much as I had hoped. I have, however, seen guys follow a very similar routine and gain much more than I have. So it’s very person-dependant and you’ll have to experiment for yourself. Maybe my forearms are just meant to be small :)

      2-you can follow the same protocol you follow for other muscles. Just keep in mind that the idea is to really fatigue the muscles.

      • Ok, i’ve got it! I’ll give it a try for sure!

        Last thing: In your case, what have been the best way to gain size in forearm? Have you find any new workout that seems to fit better to your needs? Thanks again! :)

        • Emanuele, I have found a method of training that works really well for the forearms – kettlebell training and heavy jump rope training.

          Kettlebells have really helped strengthen my grip. I do exercises like the ones shown in this video. The heavier you go, the better. Skipping with really heavy jump ropes also works the forearms extremely well. Check out this simple heavy jump rope workout as an example.

  15. marioncoath says:

    My forearms are on the way, I’ve been doing wrist curls & hammer curls like crazy! They use to be shitty though, but now when I reach out & give the store clerk or cashier change, they gleam At my forearms in amazement. I feel more confident now that I’ve started training them. I even got a few veins in them now! Also I do a lot of contraction work on them especially when I’m curling, usually I hold them half way for a long time til muscle failure on my last rep! Great article guy

  16. I really want big forearms. Not Massive ones but ripped forearms im already got low body weight and i have think forearms anyway.

    I just want the whole ripped and vainy effect. At the moment I use hand grippers and since im told forearms are endurance muscles i use them a lot. Im going up in resistance soon iv seen a small difference which is progress i guess.

  17. I means thin.

  18. Got like two questions,

    First, if I wanted to only increase grip strength for a sport could i ONLY do these work outs?

    Also, what is the amount of protein i should consum after somethig as such?

    • By “something as such” i mean the workout

      • Fred, if you want to increase your grip strength I recommend doing heavy holds. Farmers walks with heavy dumbbells or kettlebells work great for this. The protein question is a bit subjective. 0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight is recommended for one day, so you’ll have to figure out how you want to split that up. After a workout, I would take my protein with a starchy source of carbs like sweet potatoes.

  19. hey this post is an eye opener for me..
    I am training myself a lot ..I have big chest but my arms looks not that big after doing so much arm exercise because my forearms and wrists are very small. I never bothered about the forearms exercises ..now realizing how stupid I was, I should try your tips and see how it changes…

    If you have any intense forearms exercises do suggest… shoot me an email kenzuma03 at gmail dot com ( I tried to send an email on your contact form but its not working)

    P.S: I think that the wrists cannot change as it is genetic hmm?

    Thanks again for the great post, will visit often!!

    Lets stay healthy, fit!!
    Cheers

    • Hey Raul, your body’s ability to put on size is driven by genetics. Here’s a cool video that explains it a bit more. So yes the size of your forearms have a (natural) limit, but you can use exercises to help them reach that limit.

      Here are two extra exercises I’ve found really effective:
      1 – Farmers walks with heavy dumbbells or kettlebells
      2 – Training with heavy jump ropes

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