Building Strong Forearms – Simple and Advanced

Got Grip Problems? Want to look stronger in a T-shirt?

Both are common reasons people look to build up their forearms.

The forearms are an area of the body that most people commonly glance over and just let their general training develop.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, but if you find yourself missing lifts because you can hold it or you want to have more developed forearms – additional training is necessary.

Your forearm is made up into two main compartments – anterior and posterior.

Your anterior compartment is made up by muscles which function to flex your wrist and your fingers.

Your posterior compartment is made up by muscles with function to extend your wrist and fingers.

Our guide to developing your forearms goes two ways – simple strategies and then some more advanced options.

Simple strategies

Ditch straps

If you’re someone who uses straps while lifting, this is the easiest thing to change and start seeing success. Simply just try to stop using them as much as possible. If you use them a lot, you’ll probably find this very challenging.

To not have this take away from your training, you can start with not using it on warm ups or back off work and still use it on my sets – gradually using them less and less.

Hold on tighter

When doing exercises where you are gripping something, squeeze harder. You can do this on exercises where you are pulling and actively gripping – like rows, pulldowns, deadlifts, etc. but also on movements where you aren’t restricted with grip – such as bench press.

This can be a lot more fatiguing than people realize, so start off with back off work or warm ups on this.

Extra holds

When you finish a set, hold on a bit longer. Some people understand incorporating this in on pulling movements pretty easily, but you can do it any time you’re gripping some dumbbells. For example, if you’re doing some reverse lunges with dumbbells, when you’re done your set just hold onto the dumbbells for an extra 5-30sec to give your forearms an extra stimulus.

Advanced options

While we call these advanced, you don’t need to be advanced to do them. These require an additional level of effort and more direct work added on to your current program.

Wrist Extension work

Assuming you’re getting in a solid strength program, you likely do a ton of wrist/finger flexion work. However, something we often don’t get much of in compound movements is wrist extension. It’s a pretty basic thing to add in and can deliver well on results. Try out 2-3 sets of 10-20, 1-2x a week.

Pinching work

Building off that prior point, another commonly missed aspect in a lot of programs is pinch strength. When we pinch we bring the thumb and fingers towards each other. This helps to target the muscles of the hand more and can shore up some weak links. Grab some plates and get pinching for 30-45 seconds for 2-3 sets, 1-2 x a week.

Wrist and finger flexion isotonic work

Pretty much all of the wrist and finger flexion work we do usually in training is isometric. That’s not bad, but isotonic work can help develop the forearm just that bit more. This can be either with a gripper or just the good ol’ fashion dumbbell/barbell wrist curl. Toss in 2-3 sets of 10-20, 1-2x a week.

Try these out and you’ll see your forearms blow up soon enough and not be struggling with your grip!

The Citizen Athletics Team,


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