22 Jun 2010

How to Build Forearms

The forearms are a notoriously hard body part to get good muscular gains on. Some people, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to get forearms like Lee Priest. Why? One word. Genetics!

You can train them everyday, as heavy as you can go, eating huge amounts of protein and none of it will make a difference if you don't have the right genetic make up.

But what you can do is train what you've got to get the biggest, leanest forearm 'you' can get.
Exercise 1 - Barbell Wrist Curls
The Low-Down
The barbell wrist curls focus on the flexors in the forearm. The flexors are responsible for us closing our hand/fingers, holding onto objects, and bringing our wrist towards the inner part of the forearm.

Kneel next to a bench holding the barbell with your palms up (as if you are about to perform a bicep curl). Now rest your forearms on the bench, letting your hands and the barbell relax over the other side of the bench. Using your wrist and hands, roll the barbell down towards the floor letting it down as far as comfortable, and then curl it back up towards the ceiling, tensing the forearm muscles at the peak of contraction. Complete 10-15 repetitions for 3 sets as a starting point.

Exercise 2 - Reverse Barbell Wrist Curls
The Low-Down
This exercise allows you to focus on the brachioradialis and extensors in the forearm, which enable us to extend our fingers and move our hand backwards towards the outer part of the forearm.

Almost exactly the same as the barbell wrist curls but instead of having your palms face up, they face down. Also you should just let your wrist roll towards the floor and curl back up towards the ceiling. Allowing your fingers out may reduce grip so that you cannot perform the exercise correctly. Again remember to tense the forearm muscles at the peak of contraction. Complete 10-15 repetitions for 3 sets as a starting point.

Exercise 3 - Dumbbell Twists
The Low-Down
This exercise allows you to focus on the whole of the forearm (flexors, extensors and brachioradialis)

Grab a dumbbell that is heavy enough to stress your forearms when you pick it up. Then hold onto a rack or bench with the other hand so that you bend over at a 45 degree angle at ease. With the dumbbell in your hand, let your arm relax down so that it is directly below your shoulder. Now begin the exercise by twisting your wrist clockwise and then anti-clockwise in a controlled manner for 'half' reps. Remember to keep your elbow as still as possible to eliminate shoulder rotation which will diminish the isolation of the forearm muscle. Try 3 sets of 20 full repetitions to begin.

Exercise 4 - Reverse Barbell Curl
The Low-Down
The reverse barbell curl is basically a barbell curl, but instead of having your palms facing up, the face down. Simple. It's good for your brachioradialis and helps develop tie-ins between your forearm and bicep.

Stand erect with the barbell in your hands (palms down). Ensure your feet are shoulder width apart to create a solid base, and that your shoulders are back and chest out to ensure you hold good posture throughout and your back stays straight. Then lift the barbell towards the ceiling, keeping your elbows fixed at your side. Hold at the peak of the contraction and tense your forearm. Complete 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions to start with and then begin to increase the weight once comfortable.

The forearms are a small bodypart and do not take much isolation to fatigue them quickly, if training them correctly. Always use a weight that makes you fail in the given rep range (eg. 10-12), otherwise you are wasting your time and not breaking the muscle down enough to grow.

As a starting point, choose two of the above exercises to perform after your last session of the week. As an alternative you can train them at the end of the session that comes directly before you leg workout. Both ways will allow you ample time to recover before the next upper body workout. Once you have familiarised yourself to training your forearms add an extra exercise, but remember it's quality of training and not quantity that we need to pack on the muscle we want!

Daniel Salvage

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