Have you ever been in the middle of doing bicep curls and thought to yourself, “should I workout my forearms?”
Everyone in the gym seems to be after the goal of having big arms that pop out of their shirt. Many people go straight to bicep curls or tricep extension in an attempt to reach these goals.
However, thick forearms should not be overlooked as they are the only muscle group that can be fully seen in a t-shirt.
Having developed forearms will make you stand out when you meet someone and shake their hand.
Should I Workout My Forearms?
Yes, you should be training all of your body parts if you want a balanced physique without any muscle imbalances. Forearms assist you in many other big exercises, prevent wrist and elbow injury, and look aesthetically pleasing.
How To: Forearms
What exactly classifies the forearms? There are three layers of muscles found in the forearms. The superficial compartment is made up of the flexor carpi ulnaris, palmaris longus, flexor carpi radialis and pronator teres. They are responsible for flexion and adduction of the wrist, as well as pronation of the wrist.
The intermediate compartment contains the flexor digitorum superficialis which flexes the finger joints.
The deep compartment contains the flexor digitorum profundus, flexor pollicis longus, and pronator quadratus. It flexes the fingers, thumb, and wrist. It also helps pronate the forearm.
We can simplify this by dividing the forearm muscles into 2 categories: the anterior and posterior muscles. The anterior muscles are found on the front of the forearms and are activated whenever you curl or grip something.
The posterior include the brachioradialis which flexes the elbow with the bicep. It is trained to a great extent with hammer curls.
The forearms aren’t a large muscle group and should be trained with lighter weight and higher reps. Many people find that they get enough forearm activation just from their bicep and back workouts.
If you wish to add extra growth, add a couple forearm specific exercises into your training.
Warning: Don’t make the mistake of trying to go crazy heavy with direct forearm training. You don’t want to injure your wrists and put yourself out of the gym.
Stick to movements such as heavy hammer curls, deadlifts, and back rows as these will overload other muscles while also using heavy weight to work the forearms.
Forearm Workout Benefits
The forearms are used in plenty of exercises. If they are lacking in strength, expect to be weaker. Deadlifts, pull ups, barbell curls, most back exercises, and even squats all require strong forearms.
If your forearms fail before your back in a barbell row, then you are missing out on back gains. Your back muscles may have been able to take a few more reps, but since your forearms gave out first, you are unable to complete anymore.
Stronger forearms results in greater grip strength which allows you to perform more reps without your grip giving out. This is very important in the dead lift. If your grip isn’t strong enough to lift up the bar, then you aren’t able to work your back.
More muscle on your frame increases testosterone and makes your body burn more fat. This is why you should train all muscle groups and not forget any. For more information on burning body fat, see here.
When wearing a t-shirt, the forearms are the only muscle group that you can visibly see. This allows you to show off your hard-earned physique without even removing your shirt.
Having muscular forearms will help prevent injuries such as tennis elbow or wrist injuries. Stronger tendons and connective tissues protects them from being damaged easily.
Injured wrists or elbows puts you out of the gym which no one wants.
If you’ve ever heard of the brain process called neural inhibition, then you may know how it can mentally affect your lifting. It happens when your brain senses that you lack strength and shuts down the muscles to keep you safe.
You could be half-way through pulling a heavy deadlift and your muscles would give up in order to protect the body. However, strengthening your forearms and grip strength will allow them to be able to handle the load and prevent this from happening.
Forearms are a relatively easy and quick muscle group to train. You can get away with only doing 2-3 exercises per week if you are already training you back and arms. You can increase or decrease the training based on your forearms goals!
Best Forearm Workout Exercises
Reverse Curl Or Zottman Curl
It is very similar to a bicep barbell curl, but you switch to an overhand grip. An EZ-bar grip may be easier on the wrists with an overhand position.
Start with the bar in your hands and tuck your elbows into your sides. Squeeze the front of your forearms as you curl the barbell up to your shoulders before slowly returning back down.
Don’t swing your body or use any momentum.
The zottman curl is very similar but dumbbells are used rather than a barbell. Keep the exact same form. Elbows tight your sides with an overhand grip. Squeeze your forearms and you curl up the dumbbells, keeping your elbows in place.
Pull ups and deadlifts are also great for developing the forearms and increasing your grip strength.
Wrist curls are great because they can be done to hit the anterior or posterior muscles. Simply sit on a chair or bench and hold a dumbbell in your hand.
If your goal is to target the anterior muscles, then have your palms up with a dumbbell in them. Curl your wrist up and then back down. Use lightweight and high reps.
If you want to target the posterior muscles, then have your palms face down and curl your wrist backwards.
Farmer walks are a great exercise for trap development, back growth, core stability, as well as the forearms. You even burn some calories while doing it. Pick up a heavy dumbbell in each hand and ensure you have a free walking path in front of you.
Pull your shoulder back and keep your chest up. Brace your core and start walking forward in a straight path. Use small quick steps. Don’t hunch forward or lean back, and keep your back straight.
Hold the middle of the dumbbells so that the weight is evenly distributed across your body. Set the dumbbells down when your grip or muscles have given out.
If you are at home and don’t have access to dumbbells, you can hold any heavy objects in your hands to get the job done.
Consider purchasing a cheap hand grip strengthener. These things are super easy to use and can be used while you’re on the couch watching TV. You can even increase the resistance to overload the forearms once they get too easy. Here’s a link for them on Amazon.
Forearm Muscle Recovery
You can’t grow any muscle group without proper recovery. Nutrition is the first step. Your muscles require adequate protein so they can rebuild bigger and stronger. This allows the process of protein synthesis to occur.
Don’t skip on your carbs. Carbs are converted into glucose which fill the muscles with glycogen. Glycogen keeps you energized through your tough workouts. Make sure to eat some complex carbs such as whole grains, rice, or oats following a workout to replenish your glycogen stores.
Leave 48 hours in between forearm workouts so they can recover properly. Otherwise, you risk overtraining and causing injury.
Stay hydrated to ensure that your body is delivering nutrients to your muscles after they’ve been broken down. Proper hydration allows for better pumps and contractions.
You must be getting at least 7 hours a sleep a night for your muscles to recover properly. Growth hormone is released while the body is asleep. This will allow your muscles to rebuild and grow back stronger.
Blood supply to the muscles is also increased while we sleep, as well as the process of protein synthesis.
Leave any questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you!