Forearm Strength

3 mins read

There’s no more iconic image than the forearms of Popeye. Big, beefy forearms are arguably the best indicator of a powerful man. Over the last few weeks, I’ve written about the importance of grip strength, types of grip strength, and how to develop them. Forearm strength, although not technically grip strength is closely very closely related. As you train your grip, your ability to perform pull-ups, deadlifts, rows and more will become easier. But, training your forearms is not just important to aesthetics, it’s important for the majority of sports, and physically activities.
In my opinion, the easiest way to train forearms is after or before a bicep workout. In this way, the forearm is not neglected, or forgotten. But, I’ll include another workout schedule if you’re interested in becoming a grip/forearm strength specialist. The muscles of the forearm are divided into the wrist extensors, wrist flexors, and brachioradialis. A quick warning before you start attacking your forearms, initially keep your sets low and reps high for a few weeks. This is to ensure that you can perform your job without pain and difficulty. These are relatively small muscles and if you’re a laborer, or use a computer, it’ll be tough to work with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
An important note before I go any further. The forearm muscles are relatively small muscles, and can be injured very easily. Do not do less than 8 reps. My recommended rep range, especially if you’ve never directly trained forearms is the 12-15 range. The nerves of the wrist can be compressed very easily while in, both the tensor position and extensor position and using heavy weights when you’re first starting out is a recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Wrist Tensor Exercises
Barbell Wrist Curls – I’ve included the link here. This is definitely the most popular forearm exercise that you’ll see at a commercial gym. It’s a great exercise at building forearm strength and size. The bar is held with palms up resting on the legs. The closed hands are flexed towards the chest, and then released to full extension.
Cable Wrist CurlsAs far as flexor exercises are concerned I think that is this most effective one you can perform. The cable resistance keeps the tension on the forearm, and makes the last few considerably harder.
Wrist Extensor Exercises
Reverse Barbell Wrist CurlsAlmost exactly the same as barbell wrist curls, but starting with palms down.
Reverse Cable Wrist CurlsAlmost exactly the same as cable wrist curls, but starting with palms down.
Preacher Bench Hammer CurlPlace the upper part of the arm on top of the preacher bench as you hold a dumbbell in the hand with the palm in a neutral position. Slowly lower the dumbbells until your upper arm is extended and the biceps is fully stretched. Use the biceps to curl the weight up until your biceps is fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder height. Now some of you reading this might say “hey this is a biceps exercise!”, but in actuality it’s a Brachialis and Brachioradialis exercise. A friend of mine, and former world ranked armwrestler swore by this exercise, and attributed much of his success to it. I personally witnessed him use a 110 pound dumbbell for 10 reps using a 5 count up and down. That’s power.
Sledgehammer Exercises – There are several examples of sledgehammer exercises in the link I’ve provided. Slim “The Hammer Man” Farman has made a career of demonstrating his amazing prowess with weighted sledgehammer. This is not something to be taken lightly, as it’s extremely hard on the wrists. The payoff for sledgehammer work is incredible forearm and grip strength.
This is the fourth article on my series on grip strength. If you’ve read the series, you might be slightly confused on how to incorporate so many exercises into your weekly schedule. You don’t. Instead, you pick one exercise per grip type.

Grip Types Crushing Supporting Pinching Forearms
Monday CoC Negatives Farmers’ Walk Two-handed Pinch Preacher Hammer Curls
Wednesday CoC Holds Bodyweight Hangs One-handed Pinch Reverse Cable Wrist Curls
Friday CoC Forced Reps Static Dumbbell Holds One-handed Door Rows Barbell Wrist Curls

People often get caught up in sets and reps. They have to have exactly the number of reps and sets they’re going to perform otherwise they’re unable to even begin. Don’t fall into this trap. Take the above schedule and do a few and set and a few reps. Become familiar with movements, and don’t worry about how many you’re doing. Don’t train with ego, and warm up before you start.
The West is adrift. Violence against whites is common. If you’re reading this article and have young children, you owe it to them to practice martial arts, become proficient with firearms and train your grip. Grip can and will save your life. As a former correctional officer, and bouncer, I’ve been in hundreds of altercations. I’ve had to use my grip and forearm strength in 90 percent of these altercations and I’ve walked away every time. I’ve compiled the following list of grip and forearm resources if you’d like to learn more.
Mastery of Hand Strength by John Brookfield
The Grip Master’s Manual by John Brookfield
Jedd Johnson and The Diesel Crew
Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe


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