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As with many smaller muscle groups, it’s easy to forget to properly isolate and train them. It’s often assumed that they’ll get an efficient enough workout when you perform other strength training exercises such as the bench press.
However, whilst this is true to some degree, by concentrating your efforts on working smaller muscles can offer health benefits such as improved flexibility and can even help you lift heavier weights during big compound movements.
- Recommended Reading – 6 Bicep Long Head vs Short Head Exercises For Intense Arm Growth
In this article, we’ll consider exercises that specifically target the muscles of the forearm. The forearm comprises of several small muscles, the majority of which are slow twitch. When compared to fast twitch muscle fibers, slow twitch aid with muscular endurance but without exerting high amounts of force. So, whilst they don’t tire easily, this does make them more difficult to grow in terms of strength of muscle mass.
But don’t be put off as focusing on building muscles to the forearms will help you see an improvement to grip strength, hand dexterity, and muscular endurance. A strong grip alone will make common daily activities easier and offer good carry over to exercises involving heavy weights. What’s more a visit to the gym isn’t necessary to properly engage the forearm muscles.
Which Muscles Do Forearm Exercises Work?
Forearm exercises can activate a wide range of muscles, primarily those responsible for wrist extension, flexion, and pronation. Depending on which exercise you perform, will impact which specific muscles are isolated.
As mentioned above, the forearms are made up of many smaller muscles and the ones activated in our suggested exercises include the following:
● Flexor carpi ulnaris
● Palmaris longus
● Flexor carpi radialis
● Pronator teres
● Extensor digitorum
● Extensor digiti minimi
● Extensor carpi ulnaris
● Abductor pollicus longus
● Extensor pollicus longus
● Flexor digitorum superficialis
● Flexor digitorum profundus
12 Best Forearm Exercises At Home
Whether you want to use dumbbells, a barbell or bodyweight exercises to improve your forearm strength, there are many options to help you achieve your goal and, with the right equipment, you can even perform these in the comfort of your own home.
Here are some of the best forearm exercises at home.
Palms-Up Wrist Curl
A wrist curl is any exercise in which you flex and extend your wrists against resistance. You need a barbell for this exercise.
- Sit on a chair or a flat surface and lean your torso forward so that your forearms and elbows can rest on your upper legs.
- Face your palms up and hold a barbell with both hands.
- Open up your wrists and allow the barbell to roll down to your fingertips.
- Slowly roll your wrists back up towards the ceiling.
- Make sure that your elbows remain in contact with your upper thighs and forearms remain in contact with your lower thighs throughout the exercise.
- After raising your hands up to as high as is comfortable, take a brief pause before slowly lowering them back to the starting position.
Palms Up Wrist Curl Muscles Worked
The palms-up wrist curl works your forearm flexors, including the flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus, and flexor carpi ulnaris. For best results perform the movement slowly and with control.
Palms-Down Wrist Curl
The palms-down wrist curl is a more challenging variation of the palms-up wrist curl.
- Take a seat and lean forwards slightly so you can rest your forearms and elbows on your upper legs.
- Ensure your palms are face down whilst holding a barbell.
- The barbell should be hanging down just below the knees. This is your starting position.
- From here, slowly hinge your wrists and lift your hands up as high as is comfortable. You should feel a stretch down your forearms.
- Be sure to keep the rest of your body still, your wrist joints and hands should be the only thing moving.
- Pause at the top before lowering back down to the starting position.
Palms Up Wrist Curl Muscles Worked
The palms-down wrist curl works all muscle fibers of the forearm along with the wrist flexors and extensors.
Grip Crusher Exercise
Grip crushes are fantastic for building stronger forearms and all you need is a hand gripper. A hand gripper is a spring-loaded implement that allows you to improve grip strength by simply squeezing together the handles. With regular use and performing a certain number of repetitions each day can have a tremendous effect on both grip and forearm strength.
Hand Gripper Muscles Worked
A forearm grip crush works your extensors and flexors. These muscles are responsible for opening and closing your fingers.
Behind-the-Back Barbell Wrist Curl
The Behind-the-Back Barbell wrist curl isolates the forearm flexors more than any other type of wrist curl. It improves your grip and finger strength. You’ll need a barbell for this exercise.
- Start by standing upright and holding a barbell behind you. Use a pronated (overhand) grip at around shoulder width apart.
- Let the barbell roll down to your fingertips.
- Slowly flex your wrists and curl the barbell up as high as possible.
- Pause in a flexed position, engaging your forearms, and return to the starting position.
Behind The Back Wrist Curl Muscles Worked
The behind the back barbell wrist curl will activate all muscles of the forearm.
A plate pinch is among the best forearm workouts for improving finger and grip strength. It works the small muscles in your hand and fingers to help you hold heavier objects with ease.
- Stand up straight with your chest up and core engaged.
- Take hold of a weight plate in each hand and keep them down by your sides.
- You should maintain an upright position, feet shoulder width apart with your shoulders back.
- Simply hold the plates for a set period of time.
You can increase the workout complexity by increasing the weight of the plates of by holding on to multiple plates per hand. Be sure to start off with a lighter weight before progressing to limit any chance of injury.
Plate Pinch Muscles Worked
The plate pinch mainly works your flexors, but it also serves as an excellent grip strengthener for your entire hand and fingers. It also trains your mind-muscle connection as you have to maintain a strong squeeze to keep hold of the plates. This exercise offers great carry over to exercises such as the deadlift.
Hammer curls are a good exercise to work your forearms and upper arms simultaneously. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand upright, feet shoulder width apart, whilst holding a pair of dumbbells down at your side and make sure your palms face inwards.
- Keep your elbows just in front of your body with a slight bend to the elbow joint.
- Curl the dumbbells up toward your chest.
- When you reach the top of the movement, squeeze your biceps as tightly as possible before slowly lowering the weight back down.
- You can perform this exercise alternatively, curling one arm at a time.
- Recommended Reading – Hammer Curls : Muscles Worked Plus 4 Variations To Explode Arm Size
Hammer Curl Muscles Worked
Hammer curls work your biceps and forearm muscles. The muscle group they target in the forearms is the brachioradialis, which runs from your elbow to your wrist. Hammer curls also engage the brachialis, which is located underneath the bicep.
The Farmer’s walk, sometimes called the farmer’s carry, is an excellent all over body strengthening exercise that helps burn body fat. As it’s involves gripping on to dumbbells or farmer’s walk handles it also aids with improved grip and forearm strength.
- Take hold of a dumbbell, or farmers walk handles, in each hand with your arms hanging down by your sides. Ensure your palms are facing inwards.
- Maintain a straight posture as you walk, keeping your abdominal muscles tight and your chest and head up.
- Walk for 30-60 seconds.
- Recommended Product – Farmers Walk Handles
Farmers Walk Muscles Worked
The farmer’s walk engages many muscles across the body including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, traps, biceps and, of course, the forearm.
The pull up is a functional exercise and, if you have some degree of upper body strength, a great way to build bigger forearms and a stronger grip. This exercise will also activate the muscles of the upper back, lats and biceps. Pull-up bars are usually affixed to a wall or power rack.
- Stand under a pull-up bar and take hold of it with your palms facing away from you.
- Grip the bar tightly and lift your body off the ground while squeezing your shoulder blades.
- For stability, you can cross your feet at the ankles.
- When your chin has reached the bar level, take a brief pause and lower your body down.
Fat Grip Bicep Curls
You can make your regular bicep curls more challenging by using fat grip dumbbells or by modifying regular dumbbells with specially designed grips. It is one of the best exercises for strengthening your forearm and increasing grip strength.
- Take hold of your fat grip dumbbells with a neutral grip and them down by your sides.
- Curl the dumbbells up and rotate them so that your palms now face you.
- Once the dumbbells are around your chest, pause at the top before lowering back down.
If you don’t have suitable grips, you can improvise by wrapping a small hand towel around each dumbbell.
Fat Grip Curls Muscles Worked
Fat grip bicep curls work elbow flexors and extensors and primarily target the biceps. They also work your forearm extensors and flexors.
Wrist rollers improve forearm strength and size since they work the extensors in the forearm. They also help to increase strength to the anterior deltoids. A wrist roller is an implement that allows you to suspend a weight plate.
- Take hold of your wrist roller with both hands and using an overhand grip.
- Extend your arms straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor.
- Rotate one wrist at a time in an upward motion. This will slowly bring the weight plate up towards the roller.
- Once the weight has reached the bar, slowly reverse the motion so they plate lowers back to the ground.
- Start with a light weight and once you’ve gotten used to the exercise, progress with a heavier plate.
A reverse curl is a simple exercise that isolates the muscles of the forearm, specifically the brachioradialis. All you need for this exercise is an ez curl bar which will help alleviate any stress on the wrists. If you don’t have access to an ez barbell, you can use a lightweight pair of dumbbells.
- Take hold of a EZ curl bar with a pronated grip so that your hands are around shoulder width apart.
- Keeping your elbows in, slowly curl the bar up towards your chest.
- At the top of the movement, the tops of your hands should be at your shoulders.
- Hold at the top briefly, before lowering the bar back down.
- Recommended Product – EZ Curl Bar
The Zottman curl helps in elbow flexion and also works on the bicep muscles as well as the forearms. They can also help to strengthen and tone the triceps, deltoids and upper back muscles.
- Stand with your feet around shoulder width apart whilst holding your chosen dumbbells down by your sides.
- Keep your elbows tucked in close to your body and then rotate the dumbbells outwards, so that your palms now face away from you.
- From here, curl the dumbbells up and towards your chest. Make sure your keep your upper arms still with elbows in place.
- Once the dumbbells reach around shoulder height, rotate the dumbbells so that your palms now face away from you.
- Lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position slowly.
Now that you know about the best forearm exercises to do at home (or the gym), you can start doing them with light weights and increase the intensity as your body allows. The key to growing your forearms is proper form and undertaking exercises with a full range of motion.
Whilst building the forearms can take longer than other muscle groups, with consistent training you’ll add muscle mass and increase strength in no time.