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5 Exercises to Help Build Your Forearms

5 Exercises to Help Build Your Forearms |

Forearms and grip strength, in general, have to be one of the most overlooked and underappreciated muscle groups, and for no good reason. They play a huge role in so many movements both inside the gym and out. Looking to up your 1-rep max deadlift, but can’t seem to hold onto the bar long enough? Or do you have to set the groceries down 3 times before reaching the kitchen because you can’t hold on? Chances are you’ve neglected your forearms.

The good news is, there are some easy movements to add to your training routine that will help you build your forearms. Sure, they are a stubborn muscle group to grow, and they will take some time and patience, but as long as you stick with these exercises, you’ll see the results. Check out our list of 5 exercises to build some Popeye-esque forearms!

1. Farmers Carries

These are as simple as grabbing a weight in each hand and walking. Stick to a steady walking pace, focusing on good posture and tight abs. (Think of pulling your ribs down towards your belly button while keeping your chest up.) Start by doing 3-4 sets of 100 feet with a moderate weight and short rests between sets. When this becomes easier, add weights and distance. Beware, these get tough pretty fast, but they are a sure fire way to build some strength in your forearms.


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2. Double Overhand Deadlifts

Do you frequently incorporate deadlifts into your training, but tend to use a mixed grip or even straps when things start to get heavy? A great way to develop grip strength is by putting those straps back in your gym bag and pulling that bar with a double overhand grip. It may not be as heavy as when you mix grip or wear straps—and if it is, you probably wouldn’t be here reading this article—but that’s the point. With lower weight than usual, you can focus on slightly higher reps to really get those forearms pumping. Something we like to do on the last 1 or 2 reps is hold it at the top of the deadlift for anywhere from 5-10 seconds. Try incorporating these on your lighter deadlift days. You can even test your 1-rep max double overhand deadlift and stack it up against your best deadlift—the closer those two numbers are, the stronger your forearms are getting.


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3. Zottman Curl

Forget about the rest of your arm when it comes to developing your forearms. The Zottman Curl, which is a variation to the bicep curl, is a great way to build your forearm strength. Pick a moderate weight to start and aim for about 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps. Keep the rests short and as the weight gets easier, add more weight. These are great to add to the end of your workout for some accessory work!


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4. Bar Holds

This exercise is great because you can add it to your training routine on its own, or throw it in and the end of your pull-up sets. Start with about 20-30 seconds for 3-5 working sets. These can also be a good forearm warm-up drill for heavier deadlift days. The key is to keep everything engaged—you don’t want to just hang there. Engage your lat muscles by thinking about pulling down on the bar and keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Keeping your core tight is also very important. Think of the note mentioned earlier about pulling your ribs down towards your belly button.

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5. Wrist Roller

If you’ve never tried these, be prepared for an insane forearm pump. You can do it both rolling away from your body or towards your body. To make it a little more challenging on your upper body, fight to keep your arms straight out in front of you. Start with 5-10 reps, with 1 rep being rolling all the way up, and back down. When you can do 10 at that weight, add a little more weight. This one is great for developing strength in all aspects of the forearm and can be performed early in your training session or as a finisher on upper body days.


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Looking for more training articles? Check out 5 Reasons You Should Be Weight Training.

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