The forearm is made up of nineteen muscles, and neglecting them can be detrimental and result in a noticeable lack of strength.
While these are unavoidably involved to an extent when you’re training your arms, it is best to properly isolate your forearms two to three times per week.
My team and I have spent several weeks researching to develop a list of the best forearm workouts that only require dumbbells.
Let’s get started.
- It is essential to train your forearm muscles to have a stronger grip, which makes you lift, carry, and hold better during workouts.
- Grip strength can be linked to cognitive function and may be used to identify health issues before other symptoms become noticeable.
- The best dumbbell forearm exercises include palms-down wrist curl, bicep curl, farmer’s carry, reverse wrist curl, and pushup to rows.
8 Best Forearm Dumbbell Exercises
1. Dumbbell Farmer’s Carry
Dumbbell farmer's carry is a full-body exercise that provides an effective workout for your entire body and strengthens your grip, forearms muscles, and stabilizers at full extension to keep the weight from toppling over.
To perform farmer’s carry, you must:
- Select the appropriate weight for your fitness level - hold two dumbbells of equal weight in each hand.
- Stand upright with both arms extended down your side, slightly bent at the elbow, and gripping both dumbbells securely.
- Begin walking at a slow, steady pace with long strides, keeping your back straight and looking forward as you move while maintaining a strong grip on the weights.
2. Dumbbell Reverse Curl
The dumbbell reverse curl is among the most efficient exercises to train your forearms - making it an ideal movement for any serious weightlifter or athlete looking to increase their forearm strength.
This exercise is easy to perform, all you have to do is:
- Stand straight, your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Hold the weights with palms facing downwards, elbows close to your sides, and arms fully extended.
- Lift the weights toward your chest, flexing the biceps as you curl back up. Focus on controlling the dumbbell during this phase for maximum benefit; maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement.
- Slowly release tension from your biceps when you reach the top of the rep as you return to starting position.
“Reverse dumbbell curls work your forearms and your biceps. While you won’t be able to use heavy weights for this exercise, it’s still an effective upper and lower arm builder. Use a thumbless “suicide” grip to increase forearm activation during reverse curls.”
- Patrick Dale, Fitness Expert
3. Dumbbell Hammer Curls
Dumbbell hammer curls are great biceps exercises. They activate two forearm muscles known as the brachioradialis and brachialis muscles.
To successfully perform the exercise, you must:
- Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and hold two dumbbells by your side with your palms facing inwards.
- Curl both dumbbells up to shoulder height, and hold for a brief moment.
- Slowly lower back down. Ensure your elbows stay tucked against your sides throughout the motion to maintain good form and prevent injury.
4. Dumbbell Finger Curls Behind the Back
Incorporating dumbbell finger curls behind the back into an upper body workout routine can help strengthen your forearms and upper arm and create toned arms.
To perform dumbbell finger curls behind the back, you should:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold two dumbbells in each hand with an overhand grip.
- Bend the elbows until your forearm’s parallel with the floor while keeping the back straight and core engaged, ensuring your palms face up towards the ceiling.
- Curl both forearms inward as far as possible, stopping at a 90-degree angle before slowly returning them to their starting position – ensuring full control over the movement of the dumbbells for maximum effectiveness.
5. Dumbbell Finger Curls
Dumbbell finger curls are another exercise to incorporate into your forearm dumbbell workouts.
They will help you strengthen the wrist flexors, prevent injury, and increase grip strength.
This forearm exercise requires that you:
- Hold dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing away from you.
- Then, stand with your body straight and feet hip-width apart.
- Bend forwards at the waist, keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent so your arm is extended back towards the ground behind you. Make sure that the knuckles of your hands are pointing forward before beginning the curl.
- Inhale as you slowly curl the weights up in an arc toward the ceiling.
- Move only at the wrists during this movement and exhale as you return to starting position.
- Repeat for 10-15 repetitions or until you begin to feel a burn in your fingers, then alternate arms before taking a break.
6. Dumbbell Reverse Concentration Curls
The dumbbell reverse concentration curl is a great isolation exercise you should include in your upper arms workout to target the brachioradialis, a forearm muscle located in the lateral form.
To get the benefits out of this forearm workout, you must:
- Stand up with your shoulder blades together, retract, and hold one dumbbell in each hand.
- Keep your palms facing inwards and bring both of your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend forward at the hips slightly without rounding your lower back, and maintain a slight bend in the elbow as you curl both dumbbells towards shoulder height.
- Feel each muscle contraction at the shoulder, relax after each rep, and repeat as desired.
7. Bench Wrist Curls
Wrist curls are often recommended to build strong wrist extensor muscles and muscular forearms, which are essential for daily tasks and weightlifting movements. If you have weak wrists, take precautions while performing this exercise to prevent strain and nerve-related injuries .
To perform bench wrist curls, you must:
- Find a bench with a metal barbell or slotted dumbbells that rest on top of it.
- Sit at the end of the bench, grasping the weight firmly in each hand and letting your forearms drape over the edge of the seat.
- Keeping your elbows locked into position, flex your wrists upwards, curling the weights.
- Slowly lower them back to their starting point. Aim to increase the number of reps as you progress so that you can fully benefit from this strengthening exercise.
8. Pushup to Row
Pushup to row is a great exercise you should incorporate into your training to increase forearm and biceps hypertrophy.
To perform this forearm workout, you must:
- Get to the plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor and your feet wider than shoulder-width apart while keeping your body in a straight line.
- Bring your body towards the ground by bending the elbows and press yourself back up until your arms are extended. Keep the core engaged throughout this exercise.
- Drive one elbow up towards the ceiling as you reach towards that hand with the opposite arm creating an ‘arrow’ shape with your body once you’ve reached the top of the pushup position.
- Lower yourself back down until both hands touch the ground before repeating on the other side.
Why is it Important to Train Your Forearms?
It is important to train your forearms because forearm strength is essential to movements that necessitate strong wrists, hands, and grip strength.
Forearms can help you lift heavier and perform deadlifts and pullups, therefore improve your bone density.
Forearm workouts will also enhance your stability and wrist flexibility.
The research has revealed that individuals with higher grip strength tend to decrease the risk for severe diseases like cancer and heart disease .
In addition to physical performance, hand grip strength was linked to cognitive health.
Previous research found that grip strength is associated with visual memory, reaction time, number memory, and prospective memory in the general population .
How to Workout Forearms With Dumbbells?
To work out forearms with dumbbells, it’s recommended to keep the exercises for later in your upper body workout sessions.
You don’t want to start your training with forearm exercises and then move to deadlifts to realize you cannot even hold the barbell at your normal load.
Regarding the recommended frequency, you should include 10-20 weekly sets per muscle group to get the best results.
As per rep ranges, low reps increase strength, while higher ones target endurance. Varying your rep ranges can have an impressive impact to create a balanced fitness routine.
What is the Primary Function of the Forearm?
The primary function of the forearm is to allow the extension and complex movement of your fingers, wrists, thumbs, and arms.
Can You Build Forearms With Dumbbells?
Yes, you can build forearms with dumbbells, as they allow unilateral training and great movement variability.
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