Who doesn’t want bigger arms? All men do. After all, nothing speaks more about strength and masculinity than arms that look like they’re as strong and as sturdy as tree trunks. But, the minute you look up how to build arms, specifically, your forearms, you’ll find yourself blasted with all sorts of information, ranging from different versions of bicep curls, and so on.
That’s just not enough.
Sure, what you’ll find will probably work, but only up to a certain extent.
You see, building huge forearms and grip strength requires a more specific approach. It’s not always just about lifting heavy weights. In fact, you can build up your forearm strength and make them grow larger without relying on any kind of weights at all.
Yes, without weights.
In fact, it’s been shown many times before that bodyweight exercises are a lot more effective in building forearm muscles compared to lifting weights. Apparently, they’re far better at stimulating muscle growth. Not to mention, bodyweight exercises help give your elbows and wrists a chance to rest.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that lifting weights don’t have their place if you want to build monster-sized forearms. A combination of both is rather ideal, so you’re building both your grip strength and forearm muscles, while also working out the other muscle groups of your body.
Before anything else, however, let’s talk about the importance of forearm strength and why you should bother building it anyway.
What Do Forearm Muscles Do? Why Is It So Important?
Your forearm muscles consist of a group of smaller muscles that are responsible for helping you grip anything from barbells to jars, those pesky grocery bags, a golf club, and more.
You might not know it, but you use and build your forearm muscles every day. Anything that you do that involves gripping and pulling puts a huge demands on finger and wrist flexors. This means that, whether you’re carrying your bag to work, or your kids’ strollers to school, moving that furniture so you can clean under it properly, and so much more, our forearm muscles play a key role in our day to day lives.
This means that, building strong forearm muscles isn’t just for aesthetic reasons — it’s also for added function.
To say that working on your grip strength and improving your forearm muscles can improve your daily life is no exaggeration. But, for those who are serious about lifting weight, the forearm muscles are especially important.
Having a strong grip can allow you to lift more weights. This is especially true when you’re doing specific exercises. This includes dead lifts, kettle ball swings, bicep curls, and bench presses, among others.
What are the Best Exercises for Forearm Strength?
Below, we rounded up exercises that help target, not just your forearms, but also your biceps and triceps, as well as help build you total-body strength for better overall muscle gain.
Don’t worry. This isn’t just a list of exercises and us recommending you to tack on more and more weight as you go. Instead, these are exercises that you can do, on your own and with no weights at all. More importantly, you can try doing other variations as well, like using fewer fingers or doing them at an accelerated rate, to help improve the intensity of each move.
Just remember, these exercises are mere suggestions alone. To get results, you actually have to use them — and do them frequently.
You probably know a guy that can lift a fairly heavy amount of plates doing bicep curls but, can’t, for the love of god, do at least 10 straight chin-ups without screwing up their technique.
In fact, you’re probably one of those guys.
Either way, chin-ups are a great place to start. It’s not just about bodyweight exercises or using weights at all. It’s not even about forearm strength. Rather, it’s about your overall form and how you’re able to maintain proper technique all throughout.
Besides, chin-ups are one of the best ways to help build strength and the muscles in your forearms, biceps, shoulders, and lats. Once you start getting the hang of it and can do 10 straight chin-ups without losing form or technique, you can try making them more difficult by using fewer fingers to hold the bar, or slowing down your descent to make your muscles feel your weight even more. Or, if you insist on using weights, feel free to add more weight.
Have you ever seen how farmers walk when they’re carrying a lot of stuff in each of of their hands? Like, for example, a sizable bucket full of water? That’s pretty much how you do a farmer walk.
You start with your feet hip-width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing inwards. Then, as you try to keep your spine straight, walk in a straight line for a couple of steps before turning back to return to your starting point while doing the same thing.
Rise and repeat.
As an added tip, try to think of your dumbbells as pails full of water. You don’t want to waste a single drop, so you best keep your backs straight and your eyes forward.
The best thing about the farmer walk is that, it’s not just great for building forearm strength and engaging your finger flexors, but they’re also a complete workout. Not to mention, they’ll make it easier for you to carry more grocery bags at once.
So much for multiple trips, eh?
Think pull-ups are hard? Then, you definitely haven’t tried doing fat-grip pull-ups yet.
Basically, a fat-grip pull-up is your standard pull-up. The only difference is that you’re using a tool that you add to the bar that you’re gripping so that it’s wider and has more diameter. In doing so, you’re forced to squeeze and grip harder just to pull yourself up. The added difficulty improves the benefits that you can get from pull-ups.
Plus, adding a fat-grip adds a bit of variety to pull-ups, which you can probably already do with ease.
In any case, the benefits of pull ups just can’t be understated. Anyone who wants to build strong forearms, or really muscular arms and bodies, in general, will want to do pull-ups often to improve their grips. Remember, the stronger your grip is, the more control you have over everything that you are lifting. This allows you to lift more weights and get more gains.
If you can’t find a fat-grip, a pair of sturdy towels or ropes should do the trick.
Have you grown tired of the traditional push-ups? Good! You can up the ante and make it more difficult by putting your hands closer together to do a close-grip push-up.
Close-grip push-ups carry the same benefits as the traditional push-up, but is better for your triceps. This makes the push-up, which is already considered by many experts as one of the more complete body-weight exercises out there, even more effective.
For added difficulty, you can try putting your feet up on a box, or better yet, a stability ball.
Dumbbell Wrist Flexion and Extension
These are arguably the easiest-looking forearm exercises out there, but, make no mistake, they’re a lot more difficult to pull off properly than they look.
You can start off by sitting on the edge of a bench and hold a dumbbell in each of your hands. Rest your forearms on their respective sides’ thighs, making sure that the back of your wrists are just found a little bit on top of your kneecaps.
For the wrist flexion, slowly curl the dumbbells towards your biceps and then back to your starting position, all without moving your arms. Meanwhile, for the wrist extension, make sure that your forearms are facing palms down with your wrists still slightly on top of your knee caps and slowly curl the dumbbell up to your biceps and back to your starting position.
Do these exercises for an equal amount of reps for a couple of sets and you should be good.
This may look like you’re just flexing or extending your wrist muscles, but you definitely won’t be thinking that way once you’ve done a couple of sets.
Most guys won’t do crawls. For some reason, they think of crawls as a woman-only exercise, which is absurd. Crawls are great for building total-body strength, with an emphasis on both of your shoulders and arms.
If you’re ashamed of doing it in the gym or in public, you can always try doing it at home. Crawls are an excellent way to start off your day, right after you do your push-ups, chin-ups, and pull-ups.
Grip strength may be one of the more underrated aspects of exercising and lifting weights. Not a lot of people think of just how weak their grip strengths are relative to how much weight they are lifting. Not to mention, a lot of people don’t really pay that much attention to the size of their forearms.
This is a huge shame.
Aesthetically, good-looking forearms are some of the first things that most people notice about others, even when they won’t specifically tell you this. Functionally, they’re also great for helping you do day to day things. Plus, forearm strength is key to preventing a number of injuries, including but not limited to, tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, both of which are rather common today with more and more people working behind the desk.
So, what exactly is it are you waiting for?
Regardless of whether you’re doing it for looks, or for function, working on your grip strength and improving the look of your forearm muscles can help make your daily life better in more ways than you can think of.