Who doesn’t want thick vascular cables surging from their biceps to their fingertips? Godlike forearms forged on the top of big wrists tell the world that this man is strong. His ripping grip means he’s capable of crushing skulls, and his heavy is the downright impossible for us mere mortals.
Think of the manliest men to ever walk the planet. Warmongering warriors, fearless gladiators, and even ancient Gods like Zeus are all depicted in paintings and marble statues as bearing physically imposing forearms cut from stone.
Even our ancestors understood that big biceps weren’t enough to be truly strong and powerful. It was the forearms that balanced a sword, tore open the jaws of a lion, or wielded Thor’s mighty hammer.
In more recent times, thick forearms became a symbol of strength and masculinity among manual workers. Blacksmiths struck hot iron day and night until their lower arms looked like hams hanging in a butchers window. Shipyard workers hauled ropes thicker than their necks, dragging ships until their wrists throbbed and burned.
We might not all be Greek legends or hardened masters of forging weaponry with fire. But we are on a journey to become strong AF and build a powerfully imposing physique. So it goes without saying that forearm training should be high on our list of iron house priorities.
Understanding the Forearm
It’s important to understand that the forearms are made up of both superficial and hidden deep muscles. So obviously there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for morphing them into monsters.
There are around twenty muscles that make up the forearm. Each one can be located someplace between the elbow and the wrist, And each has its own specific function.
Whether it’s powering through the mid-flexion stage of a beastly bicep curl or rolling out the middle finger, our forearms handle it all. They’re an important figure in our everyday function and without them, we’d be downright screwed.
If you’re reading this as an athlete; bodybuilder, powerlifter, or otherwise, listen in! Forearm and wrist strength is what keeps that damn bar glued to the palm of your hand.
So don’t do yourself and your performance an injustice by neglecting such a prominent and important part of your physiology. Train them hard, and challenge them consistently.
Posterior & Anterior muscles
Posterior forearm muscles control the extension of both the hand and wrist. Think of opening your fingers and rolling the top of your hand towards your chest. Alternatively, picture the revving action of a road-hog. Now you get the picture.
Consequently, it’s the anterior muscles that are called upon to carry out flexion duties. To understand this, imagine closing your hand into a fist, and then curling your thumb towards the underside of the forearm.
Among these are also groups of muscles responsible for both pronation and supination. They’re the ones that turn the palm of our hand up towards the ceiling or down to face the ground.
We’re not going to give a full anatomy class here. Our objective is to get you training, not to pass any biology exams. Building Godlike forearms is the only thing you’ll ever need in life, grades are over-rated.
The Brachioradialis is the most prominent and pronounced of them all. The thicker and highly developed our brachioradialis is, the more dominating and impressive the overall forearm will look.
It’s this often overlooked beast that flexes the forearm at the elbow. Both pronation and supination are also possible, depending on the position of the limb.
It’s important to know that the brachioradialis is, in fact, synergistic in relation to both the biceps brachii and brachialis. The muscle supports the elbow joint during flexion in the mid position – explaining the bulging forearms of a hammer-bashing blacksmith.
Because of its function, typical wrist flexion and extension exercise won’t actually impact this guy. But don’t panic, we’ve got some killer movements up our sleeve to hit the spot and get it swelling.
Dudes in white coats and super tech computers have taken it upon themselves to unveil the best ways of shredding this sleeve buster. Their results state that a pronated grip promoted more EMG activity than a supinated grip. A supinated grip engages the biceps more, which is cool for building big guns, but not targeting our desired destruction zone.[infobox] Summary: The forearm contains around 20 muscles and plays an important role in day to day life and athletic performance. [/infobox]
Why are they such a big deal?
If you haven’t worked out by now our forearms are a pretty big deal. Not only do they amplify our masculine aesthetic, but they provide vital functions in everyday life.
Oh yeah, and most importantly, highly developed forearms raise the bar when it comes to our lifting game. Especially since grip strength has been proven to indicate an idea of whole body strength.
Interestingly, a study was conducted way back in 2004 to see if extracurricular wrist and forearm training had any effect on male high school basketball players. Participants were tested for their 10 rep max in various wrist and forearm exercises, including the bench press, before beginning research period.
Group 1 and group 2 underwent the exact same resistance program for 12 weeks. However, group 2 also included wrist and forearm specific exercises into their training 3 days a week. Both groups showed an increase in wrist and forearm strength, but group 2 showed even greater gains.
To put this into perspective, stronger and better-conditioned forearms could raise the bar on your lifting scores. You will be able to keep an iron grip on the weights for longer, facilitating increased time under tension.
Consequently, this promotes optimal metabolic stress for the muscle being worked. This is awesome news for all athletes (definitely bodybuilders) as metabolic stress is the primary mechanism for muscle growth.[infobox] Summary: Strong highly developed forearms will allow you to lift heavier and for longer. [/infobox]
How to train them
Studies have shown that dynamic exercises are the best in relation to muscle growth. Therefore, to make your wrists thicker than a rhinoceros’ neck it’s advised to aim for these over static holds.
Isometric exercises such as plate-pinches and arguably farmers walks will still work, though. By sustaining engagement and tension there will be a tearing of the muscle fibers thus resulting in an opportunity to adapt and grow.
However, when training for hypertrophy and not pure grip strength/endurance they are not optimal. Exercises which require flexion and extension will always reign supreme for building muscle mass.
One of the overlooked beauties of forearm training is that less can genuinely be more. Research has verified that there are no additional benefits of training 10 times a week in comparison to 2 or 3 single sessions.
So with that in mind, it is super easy to fit forearm training into an already busy workout week. It’s best to save any grip-specific exercises, such as the ones needed for forearms, until the end of your workout. That way you’ll not burn out those elbow hams before the all-important big lifts.[infobox] Tip: Save forearm training until the end of your workout as to not compromise performance in any other important exercises. [/infobox]
Godlike Arm Workout
Are you ready to turn those pathetic popsicle sticks into thick vascular Gorillaesque clubs? Good! Because when we’re done with you that weedy watch strap will need to be replaced with an XL weightlifting belt.
Perform this workout between 2-3 times per week. We’re not one to argue with the science and neither, should you. Any more than the suggested frequency and you’ll be exposing yourself to excess stress and energy loss that could have been saved for benchin’ bro!
Also, let’s take our snapbacks off for the broscience squad, just for a moment. It turns out that isolation exercises like curls are actually awesome for forearm development. So, whilst the bro split might not be the ultimate approach for full body swoleness, it’s ideal for this situation.
Let’s get a grip on it!
Monday: Day 1
|1a. Pronated Preacher Curls||10||3||45-60secs|
|2a. Behind Back Barbell Wrist Curl (Flexion)||10||3||45-60secs|
|3a. Standing Dumbbell Wrist Curls (Extension)||10||3||45-60secs|
Wednesday: Day 2
|1a. Standing Hammer Curls||10||3||45-60secs|
|2a. Standing Dumbbell Wrist Curl (Flexion)||10||3||45-60secs||Superset exercise 1|
|2b. Standing Dumbbell Wrist Curl (Extension)||10||3||45-60secs||Superset exercise 2|
|3a. Plate Pinch||30secs||2||45-60secs||Optional for additional work. Progress accordingly.|
Friday: Day 3
|1a. Towel Pull Up||10||3||45-60secs|
|2a. Modified Dumbbell/Club Level||10||3||45-60secs|
|3a. Farmers Walk||10||3||45-60secs|
By tagging each of these workouts onto the end of your already existing daily schedule you will take your forearms to the next level. Over time your grip will become tighter than an anacondas squeeze and your wrists will be as structurally strong as reinforced steel.
Complete this entire workout program no more than once a week. A potential plan of attack could be to use Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, as forearm days. The remaining four days could be utilized for periods of rest – saving yourself from the threat of overtraining.
Remember to employ periodized progression to your training and step up the weight as needs be. When 10 reps become all too easy, raise those numbers bro! If you know you could hit 11 or 12 it’s time to add more resistance and keep those fibers tearing optimally.
Because you aren’t doing the same workout every day it’s not a bad idea to keep a training diary. This way you’ll be able to track your progress through the weeks, months, or even years to come. When people begin carving statues of your forearms to worship, you’ll be able to look back and see exactly how you got there.
Finally, keep your mind in the muscle through every single movement. Actively engage with the muscle and focus on contracting it them to a maximum squeeze. By doing this you are ensuring the work you are doing is hitting all the right spots and your time under tension is the best it can be.
Now go grab life by two hands and crush it!
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