Ever worked on improving your forearm strength? If not, it may be time to toss in a few isolated exercises to pump up the forearm muscles. Why, you might ask? The forearms contain a group of muscles that have the potential to generate some serious grip strength and improve performance across other areas of your fitness routine. Not to mention, forearm strength enhances the muscles around the elbow joint. We dug deep into this topic to bring you everything you need to know about forearm workouts that you can do from the comfort of home.
Meet the Expert
What Are The Main Muscles Of The Forearm?
The forearms, which contain the radius and ulna bones, consist of multiple muscles working together to perform a variety of movements. “The main ones are responsible for flexing and extending our digits (fingers)—we call these flexors and extensors,” says Alo Moves trainer Jacy Cunningham. “Then there are muscles responsible for flexing our elbow, most notably the brachioradialis’, and lastly, the muscles responsible for turning our hand face up or face down,” referred to commonly as pronation and supination.
In terms of their inner workings, “there are four main muscles responsible for the execution of these movements,” outlines Studio SWEAT OnDemand Master Trainer AJ Mason. “These are the flexor carpi radialis and ulnaris, pronator teres, and palmaris longus.”
Why Is It Important To Exercise Them?
Whether we realize it or not, our forearms can tremendously impact our strength and performance inside and outside the gym. “It is important to work on your forearm strength as it’s integral to building strength across other muscles of the body,” says Cunningham. “If your forearms are weak, this will show in every lift or movement you perform as these muscles are the first to tire out.”
To put it another way, Mason describes the body as a ‘chain,’ with the weakest links usually our smaller muscle groups, but these smaller muscle groups are the most important part of the chain. “Have you ever attempted a heavy lifting session, pull-ups, or deadlifts and found your grip goes, making you miss out on the last max rep? Then maybe it’s time to work your forearms as stronger forearms equate to a stronger grip,” she explains.
In short, these smaller muscle groups support the bigger muscles in the chain of the body and allow us to work at our maximum for longer periods of time, specifically in strength-focused training. “Forearm strength can also help prevent injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, mobility injuries, and pain from repetitive motions like tennis elbow,” Mason adds.
10 Forearm Workouts To Do At Home, Straight From the Pros
Add a variety of these forearm-focused exercises to take your workout to the next level.
Grip two heavy dumbbells or kettlebells, hold them by your side, maintain a strong straight back, and keep your shoulders rolled back and down. Walk with the weights until you feel your grip weaken, rest, and repeat a few times. Work your way up to walking for longer periods of time whilst carrying heavier loads. Bracing the core also helps with this exercise.
Dumbbell Reverse Curl
Reverse your grip on two dumbbells so that your palms are facing down. Keep your elbows by the side, with the shoulders back and down. Raise the weight up towards the chest, pause and then slowly curl down. Repeat for 10-15 reps for a few rounds. Important to note, this movement adds stress to the wrists, and so lighter weights are recommended.
Dumbbell Wrist Flexion
Seated on a bench or chair, rest one forearm on your leg and grip a dumbbell. Flex your wrist up toward the ceiling and pause below, lowering back down. Do 10-15 reps and repeat a few times on each side.
Dumbbell Wrist Extension
Kneeling in front of a bench or chair, place your forearm and wrists (facing down) onto the surface whilst holding a dumbbell (which should hang over the bench). Extend the wrist in an upward motion for 10-15 reps, and repeat a few times.
Hammer curls target both the arm flexors and extensors. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing each other. Bend the elbows to curl the arms up so that the forearms move close to the shoulders. Hold the position at the top for a second or two before lowering the weights back down for one rep.
Hanging Pull Ups or Negative Pull Ups
Grip onto the bar (you can buy these for the home) with your hands shoulder-width apart and hang there for as long as possible. Alternatively, pull yourself up quickly and move slowly on the way down—loop on a resistance band for added support.
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, maintain a strong stance, and perform a bicep curl with your palms facing up, twisting the wrists at the top of the movement to face forward, you slowly lower the weights back to the starting position for one rep.
Towel Kettlebell Curl
Wrap a towel around a kettlebell handle and grip onto each end. Engage the core and shoulder blades as you bend at the elbows and curl the weight up to the point where your forearms are parallel to the floor. Hold for a second before lowering back down.
Start in a forearm plank and engage your core. Press through your hands until you lift the forearms and fully straighten your arms, ensuring your entire body is in alignment. Lower back down with control. You can try these on your knees or lower down just an inch at a time until you build enough strength to perform a full repetition.
Flexed Arm Carry
Grasp two dumbbells and flex at the arms until the weights are vertical and elbows flexed at 90-degree angles. The goal is to hold and walk with the weights for 20-30 seconds and repeat a few times.