If you’re serious about adding a ton of mass to your frame, you have to recognize the importance of forearm training. Regardless of how strong your shoulders, core, back and upper arms are, without properly developed forearms your performance and your mass gains will both be sub-optimal.
Bigger, stronger forearms will enable you to squeeze the weights harder, activate more muscle fibers and generate more force, and ultimately help you get stronger on exercises like the bench press, deadlift and barbell row by increasing your power. This means more overall muscle growth and faster strength development in the upper body.
Below you’ll find the top 4 most effective exercises for building bigger forearms and improving your grip strength!
Standing behind-the-back wrist curl
Set up a barbell on the pins of a power rack at about hip level. Facing away from the bar, stand up straight and grasp the barbell behind your glutes at arm’s length with a pronated grip (palms facing away from the glutes), hands placed shoulder width apart from each other. Exhale and slowly elevate the barbell up by curling your wrists in a semi-circular motion towards the ceiling.
Making sure you’re moving only at your wrist joints, curl the bar as high as possible. Hold the peak contraction for one second, then slowly lower the barbell back down and allow it to roll towards the ends of your fingers while inhaling.
Perform 4 descending pyramid sets with the following rep pattern: 20, 15, 12, 10.
Reverse-grip one-arm cable wrist extension
Grasp a D-handle attached to a high pulley with a supinated (palm facing up) grip at shoulder width. Bring your arm down to your side with a slight bent at the elbow so that your hand is just in front of your hip. Moving only at the wrist joint, pull the handle down as far as you can, then bring it back up in a slow and controlled manner.
The upper arms should remain stationary throughout the entire movement. This exercise has a small range of motion, but as long as you perform it correctly, it should give your forearm muscles a decent burn. Complete 10-15 reps, then perform it with the other arm.
Go for a total of 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each arm.
This move is perhaps one of the best overall lower arm developers that you will ever do. It’s basically a wrist curl but you’re doing it with a plate. Sit in a chair or on a weight bench, grasp the plate and place your forearm over your knee. Slightly bend your wrists downward, then curl the wrist upward until the plate is pointing upward. Move your wrists up and down to lift and lower the plate, while keeping your upper arms stationary.
As for the weight, start with a 25-pound plate and increase the weight gradually. You don’t want to use a weight that’s too heavy because that will place a great amount of undue pressure on your wrists.
Perform 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Instead of doing a farmer’s walk with kettlebells or dumbbells, grab two wide-rimmed plates and put them together with the smooth sides facing outward.
Grip them with your fingers and thumbs and squeeze hard to hold them together. Start walking across the gym, holding the plates as long as possible until your forearm is completely fatigued. Switch arms and repeat the movement in the same way, going to failure.