Have you ever noticed the size of Bruce Lee’s forearms?
They were absolutely jacked. I was looking at Gennady Golovkin A.K.A GGG (one of the most powerful world champion boxers in the middleweight division) during an interview the other day, and I noticed that he also has huge forearms in comparison to the rest of his arms.
These two individuals have ridiculous punching power and one thing they have in common is big forearms. I’m not making a daft statement that punching power relies on forearm size, as I explained this in the article ‘5 Fundamental Tips to Throwing a Devastating Knockout Punch’ , it’s just an observation that interests me.
You should know that strong forearms lead to a strong grip which is extremely beneficial when weight training and for martial arts purposes.
With your grip strength improving, it will lead to your strength going up in your upper body lifts. Grip is particularly important for compound movements like deadlifts.
The Time I Effed My Hand Up
I bent my thumb backwards on my right hand a couple of years ago during some MMA sparring (In case you’re wondering how, MMA gloves are fingerless for grappling purposes).
I was in the middle of an aggressive double leg take down and as I slammed my opponent to the floor, my hand position was wrong.
As a result my thumb bent all the way back (not fun!). I felt a numb tingling sensation throughout my right hand. I carried on the sparring session and afterwards I iced my hand.
Needless to say my hand was effed up. After a few months of healing I noticed I had considerably less grip strength in my right hand.
My deadlift weight decreased dramatically as I couldn’t hold onto the barbell for more than 3 reps with out it slipping out of my hand. So I did the usual google search on my injury.
The google searches were coming up with all sorts of crap like ‘your hand is going to fall off and tentacles will grow in its place.’ Okay maybe not exactly that, but you know how when you search an injury and all these overboard, extreme outcomes show up on the screen and then you wish you never searched it in the first place? Well, that’s what happened to me.
In the end, I decided to fix my hand myself (I prefer not to go the hospital and I prefer to avoid operations as much as possible).
How I fixed it;
- I used a poultice which is made from a specific selection of various herbs mushed up and heated; then applied to the injury with a bandage wrapped around my hand.
- I used ice and heat alternately on the injury.
- I made and performed a special hand grip exercise routine.
I also noticed my forearms had decreased in size and strength as a result of not using my right hand. Knowing this, I started to focus specifically forearm exercises.
I’m glad I never went to the hospital as they probably would have given me the usual ‘your hand will never heal, unless you go for an operation’ B.S. Besides I didn’t want the thought in my head of never gaining my normal grip strength back.
After a few months of my specific healing routines my grip was back to normal and my forearms were as strong as ever = WIN.
Apart from increasing your lifts and improving martial arts training techniques, forearms are the part of the arm most seen by others when you wear a t-shirt. It would make sense to make sure they are not lacking in muscularity (and who doesn’t wanna look and feel good in a t-shirt right?).
Your forearms are trained as a secondary muscle group when performing upper body lifts but you can also target them by training them directly.
Here’s a list of ‘The Top 6 Exercises for Building Monster Forearms.’ For the best results add one of the below exercises at least twice a week into your workout routine.
IMPORTANT; Before you do any of these exercises make sure your body is warmed up and that you have stretched your wrists and arms; for this reason I prefer to train forearms at the end of a workout when I’m already warmed up.
1) Reverse Grip Barbell Curl
This exercise is great for developing the forearms in particular the forearm muscles known as the extensor muscles.
These muscles are most visible when you have your arm out and palms facing downwards (you know the ones that look like a bunch of chicken strips on the back of the forearm?).
This exercises is just like a regular standing bicep curl, but your hands are in a reverse grip.
How it’s done;
- Whilst standing, grip a barbell as if you were to do bicep curls, but with one difference. Instead of having your palms facing upwards, turn them around and have them facing downwards. You can use an EZ Barbell or dumbells for this too.
- Stabilize your core and take a deep breath.
- Keep your elbows close to your body and raise the barbell upwards; whilst exhaling.
- Bring the barbell back down to the starting position.
- Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Make sure you don’t swing your upper body as this will result in your arms working less to lift the weight; which leads to your forearms getting less of a workout.
2) Palms Up, Dumbbell Curl off a Bench Edge
This is great exercise that develops the inside bulk of muscles in the forearm. This bulk of the inside forearm muscles are composed of muscles such as the forearm flexors and the ‘Brachioradialis’ (Is it just me or does that sound like something off Jurassic Park?).
How it’s done;
- Grab a barbell. Position yourself so your forearms are on the bench with your palms facing upwards.
- Make sure that your wrists are just about hanging off of the edge of the bench.
- Roll the barbell in your palms towards the end of your fingers so that your wrist is bending backwards.
- Now roll the barbell back into your palms and curl the bar towards you with your wrists.
- Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 reps.
3) Behind the Back Barbell Curl
This exercise is one of my favorite for the forearms. I found that it builds the forearms extremely well and it’s one that I don’t see many people doing at the gym.
How its done;
- Grab a barbell behind your back with your palms facing away from you.
- Keep your arms dangling behind your back with your elbows locked out straight.
- Curl the barbell upwards (so that your palms are facing the ceiling) and then bring the barbell back down.
- Repeat this for 3 sets of 10.
4) Hammer Curls
Hammer curls should be used during arm sessions as they build the bicep and put emphasis on other sections of the bicep muscle to make them look ‘thicker’.
In conjunction to doing this they are also build the forearm muscles a great deal. These can be done standing up or sitting on a bench.
How its done;
- Grab a pair of dumbbells so your Pinky finger is facing down (as if you are holding a cup).
- Stand up straight (or sit down on a bench) with your elbows close to your body.
- Proceed with a bicep curl by curling the dumbbells upwards. Once at the top position squeeze the muscles in your arm and return them back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10.
5) Wrist Roller
Surprisingly this is a rare and under utilized exercise that I first heard about when I was a kid; from an older guy who used them in his Muay Thai training.
I’ve never seen or heard of anyone performing these since. However, I read recently that Bruce Lee used to perform these as a part of his training.
One thing I can say is they are extremely effective and a killer workout for the forearms! Your forearms will feel as dead as a Dodo after doing these!
They build the forearm muscles fast and also strengthen the wrists and shoulders. These are by far my most favorite forearm workout. You can do these at home, you will need;
- A wooden pole just a little over a foot long (you can cut off a section of an old broom handle).
- Weight (if you have no weights you can use a heavy object like a full can of paint etc).
- A drill.
The Set Up;
A) Drill a small hole in the centre of the wooden pole and thread the rope through.
B) Tie a thick knot at the top to stop the rope from falling through the hole.
C) Tie the bottom end of the rope to a weight.
Pretty simple right? However, don’t be fooled my the simplicity of this device, the workout it will give your forearms is next to none. Try it and get back to me, you’ll be surprised of the results.
How its Done;
- Stand with your arms out in front of you (at shoulder height) and grab the wooden pole at the ends with both hands.
- Keep turning the wooden pole so that the rope winds around it, causing the weight to lift off the floor and travel towards your hands.
- Once the weight reaches your hands, turn the pole in the opposite direction, unwinding the rope, until the weight sits back down on the floor; that is one full rep.
- Do this exercises as fast as you can for 3 sets of 10 reps.
As you get stronger you can increase the weight as with all of the exercises.
6) Hand Grips
Hand grips have been around for years you’ve probably seen them around or got a pair yourself. I have gone through many pairs over time. This is an excellent training device because you can do them anytime e.g. whilst watching TV. They will dramatically improve your grip strength and also build up your forearm muscles.
Choose carefully when buying them. Some of the hand grips have unusual contours that don’t fit in the hand properly. I would advise on buying one that has padded handles or a smoother handle surface. The ones in the picture dig into your palms after a bit and can get irritating.
Try to implement at least one exercise into your workout out routine from the ‘Top 6 Exercises to Build Monster Forearms’ list. If your performing a compound lifting routine, you can do these on rest days as when hanging out at home as an extra workout.
Do you use any other forearm exercises? What’s your results like from them? Like, share, comment, leave your thoughts below…