A good forearm workout will build big, strong forearms. Pretty simple, right?
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Effective forearm exercise workouts all follow some simple guidelines. Examine the guidelines below, and then use the forearm exercises to put together your workout.
Click on the photo to the right to enlarge it and learn more about your forearm anatomy.
That's right, just use 2 to 3 exercises for every workout. You usually won't need more than that, especially in the beginning.
More exercises can overwork your hands and injure you. This is doubly true when you're first starting out. So start slowly.
Rarely will you need to specifically workjust your forearms. A forearm workout is best used to complement a general workout plan that works the rest of your body - and that also works your hands and your grip a little.
If you want to gain a strong grip - and to ignore everything else - then by all means just do six forearm exercises. But it'll be safer to work your whole body, and take just a little extra time to work your forearms.
Your forearm muscles are primarily made up of slow twitch muscle fibers. This means that you can type and write all day long, but developing a crushing grip is difficult.
So in the beginning, do a high number of repetitions for just a few sets to fatigue your muscles out. Work up to those bigger weights gradually.
One final note of caution… hands are important! Go easy on them, and don't do anything too stupid. Hurting them is not good.
I refer to these as hammer casts in other places, but the concept is the same. Get a heavy sledgehammer, sword, iron rod, or 4x4 with a handle. Anything heavy and long will do.
Grab it in one or two hands and swing it up and down. Even if you don't have a sword, you might pretend that you're doing a sword cut. As you cast the tip forward with every cut, your forearms get a great workout.
This is a totally awesome way to improve grip strength, and it really works! I highly recommend that you use it if you want to build bigger, stronger forearms.
This fun exercise was used by Bruce Lee to build his fantastic forearms. Simply grab a dumbbell in each hand, hold them out in front of you, and rotate your hands back and forth (turning your palms upward and then downward) as many times as you can until you're completely exhausted.
This is another high-rep-low-set exercise. And it gets very painful towards the end, but stick with it.
This is another variant on a classic exercise. First, get a wrist roller - a tube with a rope hanging from the middle attached to a weight.
Usually you'd place your hands on either side of the tube and roll up the weight. And this is a fine wrist exercise. But a fun variation is to place your hands on the outsides of the cylinder and twist your hands to roll up the weight.
This gives your forearm workout a different kind of pain. Also, if you really like this variant the company IronMind sells a Twist Yo' Wrist™ just for this exercise.
Go to a climbing store or gym and buy some climbing grips. Place these on your walls and climb around your house, or place them above a door and do pull-ups with odd grip and hand positions.
This takes a bit of an investment, but it puts a really unorthodox strain on your forearms. It's also a lot of fun.
This is an old trick that karate practitioners use to strengthen themselves. First, get two ceramic pots that you can grab around the lips.
Then fill the pots with sand/rocks/beans/lead shot/weight and, gripping them with just your fingertips around the outside of the pot's lips, walk as long as you can. This one is especially fun!
Grab a dumbbell by the end in one hand, or a smaller kettlebell in one hand. The, flexing just at the wrist, circle as many times as you can one way, and then as many times as you can the other.
You're going to do these circles horizontally rather than vertically. Which creates different forearm workouts than the dumbbell circles above.
Find or buy a heavy duty rubber band and put it around your fingers. Then practice opening your fingers against the resistance.
This is especially useful because most people don't work that 'opening' motion of the hand. If you spend the rest of your time working to increase grip strength, spend at least a little building up the muscles to open it back up again.
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Create Your Killer Forearm Workout
1. Lee, Bruce, and John R. Little. 1998. The art of expressing the human body. Boston: C.E. Tuttle Co. Pp. 43.
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