First impressions are everything, and nothing quite says “Pleased to meet you, I’m a monster.” like a handshake that crushes worlds and instantly establishes dominance.
But getting down to it, excluding deadlifts, what do you do for your forearms? (and jerking it doesn’t exactly count!)
Deadlift’s are pretty awesome for forearms, but they’re not the be all and end all of grip strength.
Every lifter worth their salt needs killer forearms, and supplementing in a few extra exercises for them will noticably improve your results. Forearm exercises help:
- Increase grip strength – Improves deadlifts and supports overall back routine
- Make arms more proportionate – Save you looking like Senor Synthol over here
- Up Functional strength – Helps outside the gym in alpha activities like climbing and arm wrestling
Soon you’ll be crushing it with the best of them, in this ultimate guide to increasing grip strength and getting huge forearms.
We believe 8 – 12 reps to be the best range in this case as it’s a nice middle ground between strength and size. But feel free to set your range in accordance with your goals.
1. Palms Up Barbell Wrist Curls
Starting off with a classic. At one point or another in a lifter’s life – they discover wrist curls. But then deadlifts come along and they lose their appeal.
Wrist curls are not to be taken lightly and can really help fill out the arm and give you those big ham arms you dream of.
For this one, you’ll need a bench and a barbell that you can rep for around 8 – 12 reps.
- Grab the barbell palms up, like performing a normal curl.
- Put your forearms across the bench, and make sure your hands dangle over the edge.
- Curl your wrist upwards, you should really feel this in your forearms.
- Return to the starting position.
This is really good for building up the inside of the forearm and will increase overall grip strength.
2. Farmer’s Walk
This is more of a strongman exercise, but it was too good to not be included in this list.
A farmer’s walk is the lovechild of a deadlift, a shrug with a sprinkle of lunge DNA. It’ll all become clear in a moment.
For this exercise there’s a lot of choice. You can either use – Dumbbells, Two short barbells or anything heavy that you can get two of in equal weight that you can comfortably hold at each side. They should be heavy, but light enough for your to walk with.
- Start by picking up whatever you decided on using, and hold one in each hand by your sides.
- Keep your back straight, your head up and begin to walk. Makes sure you’re driving with your heels.
- Walk back and forth until you’ve covered anywhere from 50 – 100 feet.
This is an incredible exercise and not only does it work your forearms; your traps, legs and abs all take a hit as well. It’s dynamite for deadlifts but really improves your grip strength in general.
3. Reverse Barbell Curl
Okay, so there’s a bit of bicep in this one – but it’s more a supporter than a benefactor. Your forearms are the real stars of the show here, and done right, this exercise is will have a monstrous effect on them.
For this exercise you will again, need a barbell that you can achieve sets of 8 – 12 reps with.
- Start with your hands about shoulder width apart, with your elbows pinned to your sides. Think of a classic barbell curl.
- Unlike a classic barbell curl, you want to make sure your palms are facing inwards towards yourself.
- Only moving your forearms, curl the weight to your shoulders.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
Reverse curls are very effective when it comes to developing the forearm. It allows you to use a heavier weight and put those muscles through their paces.
If you want more of a challenge with exercise, we suggest using a false grip. This mean keeping your thumbs with your fingers and not having them oppose one another on the other side of the bar. It puts a lot more pressure the forearms, as it requires more squeezing in the hands to keep hold the weight.
4. Wrist Rotations
One of the lesser known exercises for grip strength, but still an important one. More commonly used for strongman, it is ‘the’ isolate exercise for just working on grip strength.
For this exercise you’re going to need a barbell, preferably a lighter one.
- Hold the bar, as if we’re doing a reverse barbell curl (Remember Palms Face Inward!)
- Now, using one hand a time, extend your wrist to roll the bar towards you. (Think of it like rolling up a magazine)
- Continue until failure. This was your first set. The second will be the same again, but in the opposite direction (rolling away)
This is great for both the inner and outer forearm – it really makes a difference to the grip strength and due to the numerous repetitions – greatly encourages growth.
5. The Plate Pinch
Another in the list of niche forearm exercises. Plate Pinching isn’t that well known in the lifting community, largely because it doesn’t look that impressive – but the gains it produces definitely are.
For this exercise you need two small wide-rim plates for each hand.
- Put the two plates together, with their smoother sides on the outside
- Grip two plates in either hand with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Hold the plates tightly.
- Hold on to the plates for as long as possible.
- Put down plates, rest, repeat.
There aren’t a lot of exercises out there like plate pinching, however, pinching together weight is a serious way to put on hand strength and general forearm mass.
And that about does it. The best thing you can take away from this article is that if you want seriously big forearms, you have to train them. Deadlifts and other back work will only get you so far.
We’ve always been a fan of wrist rotations as one of the key builders of forearm muscle.
Already don’t have big forearms, and don’t even do deadlifts? It may be worth checking out our articles on the benefits, and give yourself the down-low on deadlifts.