I was recently reading a fitness magazine that showed results of a pole that was held to see what body part women found most attractive on a man.
Most of them made sense, except for one…
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. With my goal of bringing 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, the 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 body weight cause the forearm muscles to fire (think chin-ups, pull-ups, inverse rows). I mean this alone already covers a huge list of exercises.
That doesn’t even count the several Kettlebell Exercises that work the forearms.
But then why do I have Forearms that McLovin could compete with?
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 in the size and look of your forearms.
1 – Brachioradialis Muscle
This is the most badass 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.
The 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.
The 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. While both of these wrist workouts are great for the forearms, they’re also incredible Wrist Strengthening Exercises.
The best exercise to target Wrist Flexors: Wrist Curl on Bench
The Forearm Workouts
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 a total of 3 times with 45-60s of rest between sets.
Bonus: Forearm Workout With Dumbbells – 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 the 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. What I love about these workouts is you can do them in a Small Home Gym, or your local one. No more excuses for having puny forearms! :-p
If I do this routine at an actual fitness center I like to bring a workout journal with me 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!