Building forearm and wrist strength-for power moves

Bodybuilding and strength training go hand in hand, to build big muscles you need to lift heavy and let’s face it you can lift more and have more control of the weight if you have a stronger grip. Naturally your forearm and wrist strength will increase when you spend time in the gym working out but there are exercises you can do that will help you to increase your strength in these areas.

In today’s subject I am going to talk about the muscles that make up the forearm and how to build strong forearms and wrists. Building forearm and wrist strength for power moves is not only important for power lifters but also important for weight trainers looking to add muscle size as well as many other strength and sports related enthusiasts

whether you are interested in building strong forearms and wrists to take out your competition in an arm wrestling contest or lock in on a tighter half nelson in a wrestling match or to throw the football further with more drive in your next football season, if you lock in on a program designed around the techniques and principles that I shed some light on, you will be one up on your competition in no time.

Anatomy of the forearm

There are many muscles that make up the forearm, there are three categories in the anterior compartment and these are known as the superficial, intermediate and deep. These muscles in the anterior compartment of the forearm perform flexion and pronation at the wrist and fingers.

The superficial  muscles that make up the anterior compartment are the flexor, Capri, ulnaris, palmaris, longus, radialis and pronator teres, these originate from a common tendon stemming from the medial epicondyle of the humerus.

The flexor digitorum superficialis is the only muscle of the intermediate compartment, this can be classified as a superficial muscle but in most cadavers it lies between the deep and superficial muscle layers. It has two heads, one stems from the medial epicondyle of the humerus and the other stems from the radius, this muscle splits into four tendons at the wrist which follow through the carpal tunnel and attach to the middle phalanges of the four fingers.

The deep anterior forearm consists of three muscles. First there is the flexor digitorum profundus, flexor pollicis longus and pronator quadratus.

How to build strong forearms

Many bodybuilders don’t do specific forearm exercises in their training program, they figure that they develop adequate muscle to their forearms just by doing other exercises which is true but in some cases if someone needs to target the forearm to increase their strength depending on what their goal is there are different ways of doing this.

One way is to simply go heavy when lifting but for specific techniques that you can incorporate into your training program, use a real wide grip on barbell exercises. For example a good exercise to do this with is the wide grip chins but use a wider grip than normal, doing this will force you to have to grip the bar tighter which will strengthen your grip and your forearms.

Zottman curls

The zottman curls are a real good way to develop size and strength to your forearms. Take position for this exercise either sitting or standing, zottman curls are performed similar to the standard dumbbell curls but instead of maintaining the underhand grip as you would with standard dumbbell curls, start with an underhand grip then at the top of the curl, rotate your wrists so that you are lowering the dumbbells with an over hand grip.

When doing the zottman curls at the top of the curl when you rotate your wrists so that you have an over hand grip, try to lower the dumbbells slow and really make your forearms work. The zottman curls work all three head’s of the biceps as well as the forearms.

The farmers walk

The farmers walk is a great way to develop strength in your forearms and your gripping strength but in many people there is a weak link and that is their gripping strength, quite often with many people their farmers walk ends early because their gripping strength gives out, so the farmers walk is definitely a great exercise for developing gripping strength.

To perform the farmers walk, hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, keep your back straight and your shoulders tight, take short quick steps and shoot for a distance of 30 yards or for 60 seconds.

If you are new to the farmers walk and your not sure how much weight to use, generally holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides and walking with them you should be able to handle a weight that is heavier than what you would use for dumbbell curls, maybe try a weight that is about a quarter of your bodyweight and if that is to light you can always increase the weight.

You can also experiment and try anything that has some weight to it, it doesn’t have to be a pair of dumbbells, if you are a farmer you could use a couple bales of hay.

wrist curls

Another common exercise for strengthening and developing muscle size for the forearms is the wrist curls, these can be done with either dumbbells or a barbell but with a slight variation, instead of keeping a tight grip on the bar, let the bar roll down to your finger tips at the bottom of the curl.

When doing the wrist curls in this fashion you are not only developing the belly of your forearm and your wrist but also your hand strength, this can also be done with the reverse wrist curls in which you will use an over hand grip.


There are undoubtedly other ways to develop muscle size and strength in your forearms and to develop strength in your wrists and hands but these are some of the more prominent methods in doing so, if you have any other methods please feel free to share them with me.

I have always found that a well developed pair of forearms really add to balance out for a more proportionate physique and have always enjoyed training forearms. I hope that any knowledge I have passed along can assist you in achieving your goals further.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the box below.

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