When it comes to getting into shape there tend to be several muscles groups that people are interested in. Classically these are the biceps, the pecs, the abs and for women the legs and buttocks. However training these muscle groups alone is actually a pretty big mistake and would leave you looking rather odd and probably injuring yourself with not much semblance of any functional strength.
One muscle group that is crucially important for instance, but that often gets forgotten, is the group that make up the forearm. If you want to increase your gripping strength, and if you want to improve a muscle that people can actually see when you’re wearing clothes – then you need to be working on your forearms. Here we will look at how to do that in the gym or at home.
At the Gym
Wrist Curls: At the gym you can train your forearms in a number of ways and take full advantage of the weights and resistance machines on offer. One way you can do this is with wrist curls in which you balance your forearm on a bench with your hand and wrist hanging over the edge. Now you take a light dumbbell in that hand, and use it to curl in the full range of motion without moving your arm. You can also do this with an overhand grip to target slightly different muscle groups.
Overhand Barbell Curls: Using an overhand grip for anything will engage the forearms more than the same exercise would otherwise. You can take advantage of this with overhand barbell curls – grip the barbell over the top with your palms facing the ground and you’ll strengthen your hands, wrists and forearms, then just curl as normal.
Rope Curls: Rope curls work because they get you to use your grip a lot. Basically here you are just going to do cable curls using a cable crossover machine, but you are going to use the rope attachment instead of the handles you would normally use for bicep curls. This then forces you to grip onto the rope using just the strength in your hands and your forearms.
Dumbbell Twists: This is an exercise my friend invented and it’s pretty smart. What you’re going to do here is to take a long rope and tie it in a very tight knot around a dumbbell that has no weights on the end. Now you are going to loop the other end through a few weights and tie that in a knot too. The idea is then to hold the dumbbell at either end in your hands, and then to twist it round wrapping the rope around the handle and raising up the weight as you do off the ground. You can then reverse the process to lower it back down.
Press Ups on Medicine Balls: Press ups will always strengthen your forearms, but you can make them even more effective in this capacity by putting one hand on a medicine ball. This will want to roll about and you’ll have to use your forearms to stabilize yourself. Press ups on wobble boards can also accomplish something similar.
Forearm Grippers: You know by now that you can buy forearm grips from stores like JJB Sports, and these will allow you to strengthen your forearms 24/7, even while you’re watching the TV. You don’t just have to use these though, anything squeeze and hand-sized will do the trick whether that means stress balls or even a bottle of water with the lid tightly on.
Finger Board Pull Ups: Rarely you can find these in the gym, but it’s easy enough to make them yourself by hammering a plank of wood into the wall. Failing this you can even just use the top of a door frame and the idea is that you are going to do pull ups but gripping on using only your finger and hand strength.
Towel Pull Ups: Just like rope curls, here you are going to do a usual exercise but involve the forearms by forcing yourself to have to grip very tightly. Basically hang a towel over your pull up bar – or tree branch – and then either grab one end in each hand or both hands around the whole bottom of the towel. Now you are going to do pull ups using only your forearm and grip strength to avoid slipping off.
You can’t do it in the gym or at home really, but if you have an indoor climbing wall near you then doing rock climbing, bouldering and particularly traversing is a particularly effective way to build impressively strong forearms (and lats, abs, legs and the rest… ).