Besides the neck, forearms are quickly becoming one of my favorite muscle groups because of how dominant and powerful they look. Most important, the fact that 99% of gym goers don’t have forearms that are worth a second glance just makes me want to have what everybody else has.
Not only that, but I know that you too are different and want to stand out from the crowd so I decided to write and compile a list of 9 tips that will help you reach your forearm genetic potential.
Understand that forearms are hard work to build as a drug-free lifter especially if you have ordinary or below average genetics, but if you start now and hard work with intelligent programming then you will have some freaky forearms.
Lets get into it.
1) GIVE UNILATERAL FOREARM WORK A TRY
Whenever you are trying to bring up any weak point (muscle hypertrophy wise) you always want to do two things:
•Isolate the muscle with some direct work so that it has 100% of your attention.
•Incorporate unilateral work to focus on each side independently.
Unilateral work is extremely important for building bigger forearms because it gives you the opportunity to really focus on one forearm at a time while fixing imbalances in the process. The other cool thing is that in most cases you could actually handle some relatively heavy weights on unilateral work too so the training effect you will get will be worth it.
A lot of people frown upon unilateral work in the fitness world because they are lazy and they just want to do one set instead of doing two sets, but if you want those forearms to grow then you have to get out of this mentality. I am not saying that you should do exclusively unilateral forearm work, but it could be a great addition to your program, that’s for sure.
As far as unilateral work is concerned, I like one arm sledgehammer work, alternating neutral grip curls and alternating reverse one arm curling variations.
2) TWO SECOND HOLD AT THE TOP OF ALL OF YOUR WRIST WORK
If you are doing any wrist work such as wrist curls, extensions, sledgehammer work…etc with the hopes of getting bigger forearms then one thing that you have to understand is that the big flaw in all of these movements is that the range of motion is small. When the range of motion is very small (especially for direct forearm work) you are not that likely to get too much time under tension which could potentially limit your growth.
Since we can’t really make the range of motion any longer then the best thing to do is simply to do 2-second isometric holds at the top peak contraction on all of your direct wrist work. This will improve your mind muscle connection while getting more blood-flow in the forearms and it will improve the TUT.
3) CUT OUT ALL OF THE MOMENTUM WHEN DOING WRIST WORK
Continuing on with tip number 2, you also want to cut out all of the momentum at the bottom of all of your wrist work because this will ensure that you are not using momentum which will force the forearms to work harder. This will also ensure that you are keeping your ego in check and not using too much of a heavy weight because remember that nobody cares about how much you wrist curl and if you follow progressive overload on wrist work then eventually get to a point where you are loading the joints more than the muscles so we use this tip to try to get more out of less weight.
Not to mention that if you don’t use momentum and pause for one solid second at the bottom o fall of your wrist work then it also provides a better stretch and better eccentric component because you are lowering the weight slowly and pausing at the bottom.
4) STICK TO HIGHER REPS FOR DIRECT FOREARM WORK
You want to stick to higher reps because this will force you to keep your ego in check so you don’t lift a stupid weight and hurt your wrists, but the forearms also respond well to high reps too. I’ve never gone under 10 reps on any wrist work and I don’t ever plan to because its just not worth it. I usually stick in the 12-25 range for all of my wrist work and sometimes I do even higher reps then that just to get a good skin splitting pump and finish the workout on a good note.
5) LOWER REST PERIODS WORK WELL WITH DIRECT FOREARM WORK
I am a big advocate of low rest periods when training my forearms with some direct work because they are a smaller muscle and training them with isolation work is not hard on the CNS so I would never wait more than 1 minute to do another set of forearms. Even if I am doing some heavy EZ-Bar reverse curls I still wouldn’t wait over a minute.
6) RELAX YOUR TRAPS
One thing that I noticed with people who do direct forearm work (and I am guilty of this myself at times) is that people tend to keep their traps all tense during the movement. This isn’t a good habit to get into because at the end of the day we aren’t training our traps, we are trying to target the forearms as effectively as possible and we want to isolate them as much as we can.
7) GET A WRIST ROLLER
The wrist roller is one of the best investments out there for people trying to build big forearms because this will allow you to train your forearms at home during an off day or two. Also if you are going out of town or on a vacation then you could simply pack it with you and it won’t take up much space. If the weights are too heavy in your bag then you could simply pack a band too so that you could do band hammer curls and band reverse curls.With the band you could also loop it to your wrist roller and stand on the band so that the closer you wrist roll to your hands, the more challenging the resistance will be.
On a side note, make sure that you aren’t holding the wrist roller in a front raise position because that will just tire out your front delts before your forearms will get the chance to get any stimulation.
8) INCORPORATE BANDS IN YOUR FOREARM TRAINING IF YOU ARE A BIT MORE ADVANCED.
If you are more advanced then you would might want to consider giving bands a try on your EZ -Bar reverse Curls or even your wrist curls/extensions. The bands apply more resistance in different places so basically the closer you get to the peak forearm contraction then the harder the exercise will be. Nonetheless, it will provide a unique training effect that will inevitably spark some growth and get you closer to reaching your forearm potential.
9) MAKE FARMERS WALKS A STAPLE AND FINISH OFF WITH THEM TO ANNIHILATE YOUR FOREARMS
Last but not least, I decided to finish off with one of the most solid and time tested tips. One of the best exercises that stood the test of time for building big forearms till this day is the Farmers Walk. The Farmers Walk is one of my favorite exercises of all time because it allows you to overload the forearms in a very safe manner while also simultaneously torturing the grip, traps, core, upper back and neck. I mentioned in the first tip that if you want a muscle to grow then you want to resort to using tools such as isolation and unilateral work, well overloading is another tool I like to use as well. When my back wasn’t growing I remember that I started doing rack pulls from the knee level and my back development took off because I was overloading it. The same thing can be said about the forearms because you are loading them with so much weight and forcing them to adapt and grow.
This isn’t an exercise that typical bodybuilders or Powerlifters do because it is a movement that is mostly seen in strongman gyms and competitions. These are a great exercise that you could do at the end of your workout after you are pretty much done training your forearms. The forearms work in an isometric fashion with this lift and they will have you screaming for mercy.
If you train your forearms twice per week then I would recommend that you finish with heavy farmers walks on one day where you would walk for only 30 seconds per set and on the other day you could do lighter farmers walks for sets of 1 minute. On the later day in the week where you do sets of one minute walks, I would recommend that on the last set you make it a 2-3 minute walk just to make sure that you really finish off the forearms. You want to pick a weight that you can handle and that you aren’t dropping every two seconds in order to supply your forearms with a solid and set time under tension with no distractions.
You could do the farmers walk with heavy dumbbells or kettle bells at your local gym. Another great option would be to do trap bar farmers walks because they allow you to pack on a lot more weight and you don’t have to worry about stabilizing as much either. If you have the choice then I would recommend that you do trap bar walks on your heavy day and do DB farmers walks on your lighter forearm day just o get the best of both worlds.
You also really want to focus on progressive overload with these farmers walks because if you could go from 85lb dumbbells for 2 minute walk to 160lb dumbbells for a 2 minute walk then your forearms will definitely be a lot bigger. Also if you go from 2 plates on the trap bar farmers walk for a 1 minute walk to eventually doing 1 minute walks with 5 plates then your grip will be elite and your forearms be a lot bigger as well. These may sound like big numbers, but overtime you have to be moving that kind of weight if you want those pipe-cleaners to grow.
So there you have it, more forearm tips to help you get closer to your genetic potential. Let me know in the comment section below what you thought about this article and how the tips are working out for you.