After my last post about the reasons you should train your forearms like savage, I got a lot of questions about how to actually train and grow the forearms.
This makes me happy as I can see that perhaps not as many people are overlooking the forearms as I’ve thought. Oh, I know it’s still a very large percentage but now I have some hope.
For those of you who realize the need to build a powerful set of sleeve stretching forearms, rest assured that I am going to layout the exercises that I do to accomplish such a feat below.
The one thing I can’t promise you with these exercises is results. Not because the exercises I’m about to recommend don’t work because they work tremendously well.
I can’t promise you results because it’s going to be on you to put the work in.
It’s going to be on you to dedicate yourselves to building impressive forearms and commit the time necessary to see it through. Not quit after two weeks because you don’t look like the Hulk.
Quitting is for losers. Losers aren’t going to build big forearms. Losers really aren’t going to build anything in their lives because they give up almost immediately. Don’t be like that.
The exercises I discuss in this post are the ones I personally due to gain forearm strength and size. They have worked wonderfully well for me and I know they will work for you if you let them.
Here are my 5 exercises to build massive forearms in no particular order.
# 1- Wrist roller
If you have done any type of forearm training before, you probably have used a wrist roller. It’s one of the most common pieces of equipment you’ll find for forearm training.
As you can see from the video, a wrist roller is a very simple piece of equipment that most people make at home. The typical wrist roller consists of a wooden dowel for a handle with a piece of rope laced through it.
Weights are then added or tied onto the bottom of the rope and you simply use your hands, wrists and forearms to roll the weight up and then back down.
My father made me one of these for little league baseball when I was about 9 years old and I have been doing them ever since. These are my favorite forearm exercise.
If you haven’t tried them before, you might think that they will be easy, but you’d be silly to prejudge them. Even with a seemingly lightweight, a few full repetitions of bringing the weight up and lowering it down will have your forearms screaming.
I always get a massive pump from these and rarely go over ten pounds. I credit these for building a large amount of my forearm strength and size. These will also strengthen your wrists like no other.
The wrist roller that I have comes with a handle that has both a wide and narrow grip. Going back and forth between both really gets my grip working.
When you do these, try to keep your arms close to your body as is shown in the video. They can put a lot of stress on your front deltoids if you hold your arms straight out while doing them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you are doing these for your forearms not your deltoids.
# 2- Dead hangs from a pull-up bar
This is an exercise I was turned on to after reading Convict Conditioning 2. The basic premise as to why these are so powerful for grip strength and forearm size has to do with anatomy.
Most common bodybuilding exercises done for forearms typically focus on the wrist. If you see anyone working on their forearms in the gym, they are likely going to be doing dumbbell or barbell wrist curls.
The issue with this is that the vast majority of the muscles in the forearm work to move the fingers, not the wrist. The forearm muscles primarily assist with gripping.
Knowing this, it makes perfect sense why working on your gripping strength will contribute massively to forearm strength and size.
Dead hangs are a powerful exercise when it comes to building great forearms. The exercise is exactly the way it sounds. You grab onto a pull-up bar and hang on for your life as long as you can. That’s it.
Just like wrist rollers, these may look easy, but they are anything but. Especially if you haven’t done them before. You will feel a massive pump in your forearms within a short amount of time with these.
A solid goal to shoot for starting out is to be able to hang from the bar for a minute. In the beginning, even 30 seconds is going to be a challenge but hang in there. Literally.
I love these. They are as much of a mental exercise as they are physical. You are going to feel some pain before you grip gives out which is going to require focusing your mind on something other than the pain you’re feeling.
I have noticed a huge difference in my forearm size, definition and grip strength since incorporating these on a regular basis.
# 3- Hex holds
This is a new exercise for me that I recently discovered on YouTube. This exercise gets its name from the six (hex) angles found on either end of a hex dumbbell.
I don’t know how I never realized this before, but the angles on the sides of a hex dumbbell form a perfect grip to hold onto.
The only issue for most people will be that the dumbbells you find in most commercial gyms today are rounded not angled. You can still find hex dumbbells online or in most sports stores though.
Like the name implies, you pick up a dumbbell in each of your hands by the hex side and hold onto them as long as you can. Pick a weight that you can hold onto for at least 20 seconds to start however, I recommend experimenting with all different weights.
The important part is that you work the forearms and you grip as much as possible. Hold on as long as you can. You will feel a serious pump with these.
I like these a lot because like the dead hangs, your grip and forearms are constantly being worked throughout the exercise. If you watch in a mirror, you can see your forearm muscles quivering and flexing.
# 4- Pull-ups
You may be surprised that good old pull-ups make the list, but if you remember the anatomy lesson from the dead hang section it will make perfect sense.
You grip and forearms are worked tremendously well during pull-ups. You are being forced to move your entire body through space up and down.
No matter how strong you are, pull-ups are an ass-kicking workout. You are squeezing the bar tightly throughout the entirety of the exercise while your body weight is pulling you down. Gravity is our friend for these even though it may seem like our enemy during them.
Now that you know the forearm muscles are primarily responsible for assisting the fingers to move and grip things, you understand that your forearms are getting a lot of work with pull-ups.
When I am doing pull-ups often, I really notice a huge difference in the appearance of my forearms. The vascularity of my forearms is noticeably better. Pull-ups just seem to strip any fat you have on your forearms completely off.
All pull-ups are effective for working the forearms, but I feel that the basic overhand pull-up works them the best.
# 5-Grip trainer
These are another popular thing associated with bodybuilding that most people have seen or tried.
A grip trainer is a handheld piece of equipment that you squeeze and close with your hands. The resistance gets harder the further you squeeze it.
These are largely popular in the arm wrestling and powerlifting community. Those guys only use things that are effective, so you know these are no joke.
As the name implies, they work by strengthening your grip. I have personally found these very effective for forearm size and grip strength however, I have found the type of grip trainer you use to make all the difference.
Most grip trainers you will find in the store are plastic pieces of trash. They are also very light in my experience and you outgrow them strength wise very quickly.
Hands down, the best grip trainers that I have every found are the Captain Of Crush trainers by Iron Mind. These things are amazing. They are made out of solid steel and are very well-made. They make them in 11 different resistance strengths going up to 365 pounds. There are even certifications they will give you once you prove you can close the heavier ones.
I have three Captain Of Crush trainers and have used them for years. I keep a lighter one with me in my bag at work and will use it periodically as I drive around during my shift. My hand and grip strength have skyrocketed with these. They are also just plain fun to use.
How often and how much
I know that the big question after this post is going to be how often to do these exercises and in what amounts.
My advice may be frustrating for you or it may be relieving. I believe in simplicity when it comes to building muscle. I absolutely hate hard and fast rules when it comes to repetitions and frequency.
Each one of us is different and there is no one size fits all for any one person. I don’t care what professional bodybuilder or powerlifter says that there is, they’re wrong.
You have to do what works for you. Bodybuilding is all about experimenting and figuring out what works best for your body. People get way too caught up in the little details about training.
What works for me might not work for you but here is my advice. I believe that the forearms are remarkably resilient muscles that can take a beating. For those reasons and from my experience, I train them as often as I can.
Lately, I train them almost every day. I do something whether it’s dead hangs, pull-ups, wrist rollers etc. Sometimes I do a few of them or sometimes I just do one of them. It really just depends on how I feel.
As far as sets go, I will typically do 3-5 working sets however, I may do far more. I may do dead hangs on and off for an hour while watching television. I change it up a lot.
I have invested the time into training forearms for years so I understand what I can handle and what works best for me. What I suggest is that you experiment with these and see what works best for you.
I do these until my forearms are so pumped up, I can barely move them. Once that happens, I know that I have worked them sufficiently.
It won’t take long for you to experience a stellar pump if you do these exercises correctly. Overtime, you will be able to increase your workload, which will increase your strength and forearm size.
Your journey to massive forearms
Like anything else, you have to be dedicated if you want to build massive forearms. You need to train with intensity and train often.
You may be one of the lucky few that is able to blow their forearms up with only a little work, but that’s unlikely. What’s more likely is that you will have to invest hard work and time into getting better and stronger at these exercises to get the results you want.
You are going to get out of it what you put into it. I love having strong and muscular forearms and I can tell you that they are worth the hard work.
If you take my advice and do these exercises, I’m confident that you will be able build a pair of forearms that even Popeye will admire.
Have you tried any of these forearm exercises before? Do you have any favorite forearm exercises that aren’t on this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and comments below.
Until next time,