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3 Great Forearm Workouts

Forearm workouts

Many people often overlook the need to exercise their forearms. The truth is that forearms are very important when it comes to lifting. Exercising them shouldn't be "lumped in" to other arm exercises.

In this guide, we will give you some important background information on the forearm muscles as well as some suggestions on good forearm workouts.

About the Forearms

The forearm contains many muscles that are divided into sections. The two "top-level" sections, called compartments, are the anterior compartment and the posterior compartment.

The anterior compartment is on the inside of your forearm. It is responsible for the flexion of your fingers and wrist, as well as the rotation of your forearm. This compartment is broken down into three groups, each containing muscles that have specific functions. 

Muscles of the Anterior Compartment

Superficial Layer

  • Flexor carpi ulnaris
  • Palmaris longus
  • Flexor carpi radialis
  • Pronator teres

Intermediate Layer

  • Flexor digitorum superficialis

Intermediate Layer

  • Flexor digitorum profundus
  • Circle
    Flexor pollicis longus
  • Circle
    Pronator quadratura

The posterior compartment is on the other side of your forearm. This section is in control of the extension of your fingers and wrist. This compartment only has two layers, but has more muscles than the anterior compartment.

Muscles of the Posterior Compartment

Superficial Layer

  • Brachioradialis
  • Extensor carpi radialis longus
  • Extensor carpi radialis brevis
  • Extensor digitorum
  • Circle
    Extensor carpi ulnari

Deep Compartment

  • Supinator
  • Circle
    Abductor pollicis longus
  • Circle
    Extensor pollicis brevis
  • Circle
    Extensor pollicis longus
  • Circle
    Extensor indices

It is important to work out all of these muscles since the forearms are responsible for your grip. Research suggests that grip strength is an indicator of muscular endurance as well as overall health.

A strong grip strength is needed for a large range of activities from gymnastics to opening a jar. Having strong forearms can also help you with lifting weights since forearm strength is required to hold the weights up. So it's going to help a ton when doing heavy workouts with barbells like squats.

Here is a video from fitness expert Jeff Nippard that can further explain the science behind building your forearm muscles.

Recommended Forearm Workouts

Exercises for Your Wrist Extensors and Flexors

An elastic band is great for working out your wrist extensors and flexors. To do this exercise you must stand up. Place one end of the band under your foot. Hold the other end in your hand (if you are using your left foot, use your left hand. Same with the right side). Pin your elbow to your side to use it as an anchor point.

From there, you will rotate your forearm up and down, making sure to keep your elbow pinned to your side. In order to work out your wrist extensors, your palm should be facing downward as you do the exercise. To work out your flexors, it should be facing up.

Reverse Curl

This exercise is similar to the barbell curl, but instead of your palms facing up, they will be facing down. You'll probably want to lay off of the weights also because you won't be able to lift as much as you would with a regular curl. Grip a barbell with an overhand grip.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms down, and elbows tucked in. Anchoring from your wrists, raise the barbell up. Your arms shouldn't move, only your wrists. Squeeze your wrists against your forearm to really work the muscle. Then curl it back down, being sure to tuck it in at the bottom.

Hammer Curl

To start off doing hammer curls, you would hold two dumbbells just like you would if you were doing bicep curls. Your arms should be by your side and you should be holding the dumbbell in a manner where it is situated from front to back, not side to side. This means that your forearms should be facing inward. Using your elbows as an anchor point, curl the barbell up.

It is very important that you do not twist your forearm as you do this. Twisting your forearm will turn this into a bicep curl and you won't be working out your forearm muscles. You can also bring the dumbbell up and across your body, still using your elbow as the anchor point. Just be sure to keep your forearm facing inward.

Farmer Walk

This is a great exercise that will work out all the muscles in your body. You will feel it in your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves but the main benefit is that you will be working on your grip strength.

You can do this exercise with barbells (if you choose barbells, you should use the ones with handles), kettlebells, or dumbbells. For safety reasons, start with a quarter of your weight on each side until you are able to gauge how much weight you can safely carry.

Lift as if you are doing a deadlift and stand straight up. As you walk, keep your back straight, shoulders back, and chest out. Retract your shoulder blades. Approach turns with caution and take your time.

Once you've made it back to your starting point. Lower the barbell or weights in a controlled manner the same way you picked them up. Scott Herman demonstrates the farmer's walk in this video.

Conclusion

There are quite a few reasons to do work out your forearms. One is that you don't want tiny forearms with huge biceps. Another is that having good grip strength is important.

By giving your forearms the same attention you do to the rest of your muscles, you'll have an real, complete, full-body routine. Before you go, here is an awesome video from Jeff Cavaliere of Athlean-X of great forearm workouts.

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