Fitness

7 Best Forearm Exercises to Increase Size & Strength

How to Get Bigger Forearms
Isaac Robertson
Written by Isaac Robertson

​Are your forearms as toned as your biceps or your abs?

Most people like to focus on their biceps or their abs without giving a thought to their forearms.

However, if you think about it, people see your forearms more often than they see your abs or biceps.

So why don’t we work on our forearms more?


With the right exercises and training, along with proper technique, you can have massive forearms in no time.

Even if you don’t want big forearms and just want to lose fat, these exercises can still help.


​Strong forearms translate to stronger grip strength. This can allow you to squeeze harder, engage more muscles, and generate more force during your workouts. The flip side is that when forearms or wrists are underdeveloped or weak, it can limit how hard you're able to train other body parts.

​Jay CutlerMuscle and Fitness                

7 Best Exercises for Bigger Forearms

The best exercises to get bigger forearms are farmer’s carry, wrist curls, towel pull-ups, performing wrist rollers, reverse grip barbell curls, and ​palms-down and up dumbbell wrist curls.

Combining these exercises will help you add strength and muscle mass to your forearms, and maybe even improve your grip.

1. ​​Farmer’s Walk

​When doing a farmer’s walk, use dumbbells, kettlebells, or a trap bar. Perform this exercise by squatting to grip your selected weights in each hand and pulling them up as you stand up straight.

Hold them as you walk 25-50 yards. Then repeat this exercise 8 times.

The farmer’s walk targets not only your arm muscles but also the muscles all over your body. It also helps improve your grip strength.

Farmer’s Walk best forearm workout

​2. ​Wrist Curls

To perform a wrist curl, hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest your forearms on your thighs. Lift the dumbbells by curling your wrists.

Afterwards, lower the dumbbells. Do not move your elbows.

Since you are only using your wrists to lift the dumbbells, your entire forearm is being worked here. You can also use a barbell.

Wrist Curls

​3. ​Towel Pull-Ups

​Towel pull-ups are done much like a regular pull-up, except you use a towel to lift yourself up.

Throw a towel over a pull-up bar and use each side to pull your body up.

Remember to not tie knots in the towel.

Towel pull-ups strengthen your forearms and help improve your grip.

Towel Pull-Ups

4. Performing Wrist Roller Exercises

​A wrist roller is a piece of equipment shaped like a cylinder that has a weight attached to it by a rope. To work your wrists and forearms, overhand grip the wrist roller and lift it parallel to your shoulders.

Slow rotate one wrist after the other, turning the wrist roller in your hands and slowly winding the rope with the weight attached around the roller. As your strength improves, you can gradually add more weight to the wrist roller.

Performing Wrist Roller Exercises

5. Reverse Barbell Curl

Grip the barbell with an overhand grip. Your palms should be facing down.

Lift the barbell up to your shoulders, bending at the elbow and only moving your forearms. Your biceps should remain stationary.

Hold the barbell in this position before lowering it - you can also your a curl bar for this exercise - see here for more curl bar exercises.

Repeat 15-20 reps for 3 sets.

Reverse Barbell Curl

6. Palms-Down Dumbbell Wrist Curl Over a Bench

​Kneel in front a bench and rest your forearms on it. Take a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip and let your wrists hang over the edge.

Slowly lift the barbell up using your wrists and without lifting your arm off the bench. Hold this position for a moment and then lower the barbell back down. Your forearm should not move.

Repeat 15-20 reps for 3 sets.

Man building forearms

7. Palms-Up Dumbbell Wrist Curl Over a Bench

​Like the previous exercise, kneel in front of a bench, resting your forearms on it, and hanging your wrists over the edge. Use an underhand grip to grab a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing up.

Without moving your forearms, lift the dumbbells up using your wrists, hold, and lower them back down.

Your forearms should never leave the bench. Repeat 15-20 reps for 3 sets.

Palms-Up Dumbbell Wrist Curl

​You can also watch this video to learn more about this exercise.

What is a Good Forearm Routine?

A good forearm routine is essential when you are trying to get bigger forearms. When training your forearms, you have to find a workout that uses the right amount of weight to target the proper muscle groups and build muscle.

To keep you from searching all over the internet for the perfect forearm routine, we have put one together for you!

​To get bigger forearms, perform 3 sets of this recommended routine at least once a week, but two times a week if possible. Do 15-20 reps of each exercise to get the most out of your forearm muscle growth.

You can substitute any of our previously mentioned exercises into this routine. The aim is to perform 3 sets of 3 different exercises.

1. Reverse Barbel Curl

Sets: 3
Reps: 15-20
Rest: 60 sec

Reverse Grip Barbell Curls

2. Palms-up dumbbell Wrist Curl Over a Bench

Sets: 3
Reps: 15-20
Rest: 60 sec

Palms-Up Dumbbell Wrist Curl

3. Wrist Roller Exercise

Sets: 3
Reps: ​4-5 Reps
Rest: 90 sec

Performing Wrist Roller Exercises

​Tips on Building Forearms

best forearm exercises

​Exercising your forearms is the best way to gain forearm strength. A recent study has determined that doing forearm workouts consistently can improve your ​strength and form. [1]

However, there are certain things you can do the next time you hit the gym to see better and faster results. Follow these tips during any exercise, not just forearm workouts, to maximum forearm growth and fitness.

  • Indirectly Work Your Forearms
    To get bigger forearms faster, you should train even when you are not focusing on them. This means squeezing whatever you are holding during any exercise you do, whether it be a pull-up bar, dumbbell, or the handles of a machine. Just squeezing them as hard as you can every time you get the chance will help activate more of your forearm muscles and lead to bigger gains.
  • Use Thick Bars and Dumbbell Handles
    Whenever possible, use thick bars and dumbbell handles because it can activate more muscles in your arms and hands.

    If there are no thick bars available, tools like Fat Gripz that easily attach to any bar to increase the thickness can come in handy.
Man holding gym equipment

​FAQS on Getting Bigger Forearms

1. Should I use straps?

strap

No, you should not use straps if you want to get bigger forearms. Using straps may help you perform a couple extra reps, but they don’t help muscle growth or grip strength. [2]

Straps actually take some of the load off your arms, which can be a good thing if you can’t lift heavy weights. However, if you are targeting your forearms, it won’t help their muscle growth.

It is best if you slowly work your way up to using heavier weights as you grow stronger instead of using straps.

​2. Should I use chalk?

It depends. Chalk is mainly used to help you get a better grip on the equipment you are using and to prevent slippage when lifting a heavy dumbbell.

While this is helpful, not using chalk can actually activate more muscles and make them work harder. Trying to maintain a grip when your hands are sweaty or you feel the equipment slipping can activate more muscles as you try to keep everything steady. [3]

Basically, it is up to you and how comfortable you are with using the equipment.

weightlifting chalk

Our Final Thoughts on Building Forearms

Growing your forearm muscles don’t have have to mean a drastic change to your existing routines.

Throwing in some new exercises and adding new techniques to the ones you can already do are probably all it takes to start seeing a difference to your muscles.

As an added bonus, you may even see some weight loss and an improvement to your health. Even starting something small, like meal prep, can give you the boost you need to get those massive forearms you want.

With just a few tweaks to your exercises and workouts, you can have bigger forearms before you know it. If you’re ready to finally strengthen and grow your forearms, you should really start this routine today.

​It’s never too soon to get bigger forearms and look good in any shirt, no matter the sleeve cut.


References

​1. Szymanski, D. J., Szymanski, J. M., Molloy, J. M., & Pascoe, D. D., Effect of 12 weeks of wrist and forearm training on high school baseball players, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15320673

​2. Stonecipher, Dale Richard & Catlin ​Pamela, ​The Effect of a Forearm Strap on Wrist Extensor Strength, retrieved from https://www.jospt.org/doi/abs/10.2519/jospt.1984.6.3.184

3. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Hand-Grip Strength as a Predictor of Muscular Strength and Endurance, retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2011/03001/Hand_Grip_Strength_as_a_Predictor_of_Muscular.156.aspx

About the author

Isaac Robertson

Isaac Robertson

I’m a personal fitness trainer and nutritionist living in sunny Indianapolis, IN. I’ve spent the last 8 years staying at the forefront of the health and fitness industry. In that time, I’ve helped hundreds of people shed the excess weight and get into shape, maintaining their healthy new lifestyle through proper training and eating habits. You can read more about me here​.

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