Have you given it much thought on how to build bigger forearms? Many bodybuilders don’t do specific exercises to build their forearms while many other weight trainers do specific forearm exercises in their weight training programs.
Is it really necessary to do specific forearm exercises in your training or do your forearms get enough muscular development from doing other exercises like barbell curls, dumbbell curls and chinning exercises?
There are many great forearm exercises that you can incorporate in your training and we will be discussing what these exercises are and how they are best performed, what set and rep schemes work best when performing forearm exercises.
Today we will be talking about forearm training and why somebody builders include forearms into their training and why some bodybuilders leave forearm training out. Is forearm training really necessary? And if it is, why do some trainers leave forearms out of their training program?
Is forearm training necessary?
How do you know when forearm training is necessary, or when you know that the forearm development you receive from bicep training and other exercises will give you enough development?
It basically comes down to how much forearm development you are looking for. If you are not interested in developing a set of muscular forearms that are popping out of your shirt sleeves, you will more than likely receive enough development from other exercises such as bicep curls and back training exercises.
Many bodybuilders don’t spend a great deal of time “if any” concentrating on specific forearm training exercises, they feel that the development they receive from other exercises is sufficient, but if you are looking for more development in your forearms, you might be interested in continuing on with reading this article.
There are many great exercises that you can use for developing your forearms that will target the belly of your forearms and the back side of your forearms. It all depends on how far you want to take your forearm development.
Does bicep training generate enough forearm development?
Oftentimes you can get enough development in your forearms through doing biceps training, but is it generating enough development to actually build your forearms? Maybe if you are an endomorph or mesomorph body type, your forearms will respond pretty decent from training biceps.
If you are an ectomorph, you will definitely need to pound out the forearm exercises. I fit more into the mesomorph body type, but I still didn’t receive the powerful looking forearms that I was looking for.
I spent many years not doing any forearm training, just suspecting that I would get enough development from training biceps, but after time I realized that I wasn’t getting the additional development.
That’s when I realized that I needed to get a hustle going with doing specific training just for my forearms.
So if you are questioning if you should include a forearm routine to your schedule, it basically comes down to how long you have been training, and if you have been getting the development that you are looking for.
It also depends on your genetics and body structure. If your body structure is the ectomorph type which means that you are naturally thin and small boned, you will need to train your forearms twice per week and train heavy.
You will also need to make sure that you are taking in an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats to support building muscle.
Developing strong forearms
Many times people ask, “what forearm exercises work best for developing strength in the forearms”? Some sports require strong forearms like arm wrestling. The forearm comes into major play when arm wrestling, and besides the usual forearm exercises, there are ways to specifically strengthen your arms for arm wrestling.
If you are interested in checking out what exercises that you can do to strengthen your arm wrestling, I have a couple of exercises that I will be discussing shortly.
In general for developing strength in the forearms, you will need to stick with the basics like heavy barbell wrist curls, hammer curls and reverse grip barbell curls. But it’s always a good idea to use what you feel comfortable doing and what you feel works best for you.
Any kind of exercise that requires a strong grip like dead lifts will increase your gripping strength and will also help with increasing your forearm strength.
Impressive as it is having powerful forearms, many power lifters are more concerned with having a powerful dead lift, but in order to have a powerful enough grip to win you championships in the dead lift, you will need to develop strong forearms and a strong grip.
Besides doing specific forearm exercises for developing strength, one of the best ways to develop a set of strong forearms is through performing various styles of the chin ups.
Whether it’s wide grip chins or reverse grip chins, any type of chinning exercise you do will work overtime in strengthening the forearms.
Your best bet for building strong forearms would be to work a combination of heavy forearm exercises, include heavy arm training days, work with various chinning grips and include power moves in your training like dead lifts and power cleans.
Forearm exercises for size
There are a handful of great exercises that you can include in your forearm training, and I think that it is a great idea to include at least two of them in a training session. First you will have forearm exercises that will target the back side of your forearms such as reverse grip barbell curls and reverse wrist curls.
Next there are exercises that will target the belly of your forearms, these are basically wrist curl exercises that you can perform either with a barbell or dumbbells. Using a barbell you will be able to execute more weight on the forearm muscles, but if you use dumbbells, you will be able to manipulate a degree of better stimulation in your forearms through angling your wrist to a further degree.
Below I have a list of forearm exercises and what area of the forearm they develop. You can try these exercises out and see how they feel for you, or if you have other exercises that you prefer for developing the forearms, you should definitely continue with doing them.
- Reverse grip barbell curls / back side of the forearms
- Reverse grip wrist curls with barbell / back side of the forearms
- Reverse grip wrist curls with dumbbells / back side of the forearms
- Hammer curls / back side of the forearms
- Barbell wrist curls / belly of the forearms
- Dumbbell wrist curls / belly of the forearms
You can also perform any one of these exercises using cable machines as well. A good point to get yourself into when training forearms is to try a variation of all of these forearm exercises in your workouts for a wide use of variation to target all angles of your forearms.
You will not need to perform every one of these exercises in a single given workout, but make sure that you perform at least two of them in each workout, one for the back of your forearms and the other for the belly of the forearms.
For people that specifically want to develop strength in the forearm, wrist and overall arm. I have a couple of exercises specially designed to increase your arm wrestling strength.
- Cable workout for arm wrestlers / see video
- Dumbbell workout for arm wrestlers / see video
A good exercise to use for developing strength for forearms for arm wrestling would be to set up a bench in front of a cable machine and replicate the arm wrestling movement incorporating the cable machine.
Another way to perform this exercise is to lay on the floor on your side and replicate the arm wrestling move while using a dumbbell. This is a great way to strengthen your arm wrestling technique while in your own home, as long as you have a dumbbell.
Sets, reps and weight you should use
Generally when it comes to how many sets, reps and how much weight you use in your forearm training, it basically comes down to what your goals are and your experience level with weight training.
Generally for most people that are incorporating forearm training into their workouts revolves around developing muscle size and strength.
Your overall amount of sets depends on how long you have been training. If you are new to training, you should start out with 3 – 4 sets and work your way up. After you have been training for a year you can do as many as 10 – 15 sets per workout.
As with basically other muscle groups, you should strive to do 8 – 12 reps per set for muscular development in the forearms.
The weight that you use depends on how much you feel comfortable using while following a rep range of 8 – 12 reps per set and while maintaining good form. Especially when doing exercises like heavy barbell wrist curls you should avoid bouncing the barbell at the bottom of the exercise.
Not maintaining good form and bouncing the weight is a sure way to lead to injury. Always make sure to fully warm up your forearms and wrists before heavy training to avoid injury.
When to include forearm training
Are you feeling your forearm muscles working when you are performing non-related forearm exercises? If so, you are likely targeting your forearm muscles to a degree, but if you are serious about developing your forearms, I would suggest that it would be a good idea to include individual forearm exercises into your training to help increase your forearm development and strength.
I find that I get the best results with my personal forearm training when I train forearms with biceps and triceps and frequently I will also train forearms with back.
Forearm workout routines
Next I have three forearm workout routines, one for beginners, from first starting out to six months of weight training experience.
The second workout routine is for intermediates with six months to a year of weight training experience.
Finally, the third forearm workout routine is for an advanced level of weight trainers with one year and up of experience.
- Reverse grip chins / 1 set, 10 reps
- Dumbbell wrist curls / 1 set, 10 reps
- Dumbbell reverse wrist curls / 1 set, 10 reps
- Wide grip chins / 2 sets, 10 reps
- Barbell wrist curls / 3 sets, 10 reps
- Hammer curls / 3 sets, 10 reps
- Wide grip chins / 3 sets, 10 reps
- Barbell wrist curls / 4 sets, 10 reps
- Hammer curls / 4 sets, 10 reps
- Deadlifts / 5 sets, 6 reps
You don’t need to stick with these specific exercises, you can change them to fit your own personal preference but these workout routines give you a general idea of how to set up your own forearm training routine.
In my own personal experience, I generally don’t feel enough forearm work coming into play when I perform non-related forearm training exercises alone. I will train forearms with other muscles that will negatively impact forearms like biceps and back.
Just doing biceps and back themselves will stimulate the forearms to a degree, but when coupling them along with a forearm workout will give you the best results.
Keep your training fresh and change your exercises around periodically to keep things new with your training so that your muscles don’t become accustomed to doing the same repetitious thing week after week.
A diet high in protein will supply your muscles with the stuff they need to grow. Also, important is a good source of carbohydrates for the energy you need to pummel your workouts.
Often it can be difficult to take in enough protein to build muscle on a diet of whole foods alone. Then it may be necessary to fortify your diet with a protein supplement so that you can achieve the gains that you are training hard for.
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