Do You Train Your Forearms?

I just wanted to hear everyones opinion on training forearms. Mainly because I have started to train mine and my wrists have been getting weak. Its not my form, I’m sure of that. Is it worth the time and effort or do forearms naturally come with every other workout?

My forearms have always lacked, and could never figure anything out to fix that. Yes I do pullups, deadlift, squats, wrist curls…nothing seemed to work! Until I discovered farmers walks, they really do the trick.

My forearms are only a few inches smaller than my arms.

I don’t do any direct work except that I don’t use gloves or straps with anything, and I rarely hook grip unless my hand hurts from “altercations”.

Heavy rows + heavy deads + hammer strength upright Rows + Hammer Curls + heavy barbell curls…

You get the idea.

If your pulling 500 something on a regular basis with just chalk your forearms will get there.

They are like calves, your can force them to grow if you need them, but direct work doesnt seem to stimulate the much.

Just my extensors, and not via wrist extensions but things like hammer curls/pinwheels, etc, stuff I can go heavy on. My flexors get big just from gripping stuff hard on rows and deads.

For the wrist flexor muscle area, I think fat grip deadlifting/holds of some sort, wrist curls, and CoC grippers would work out quite well.


I have smallish hands, it has always hurt my lifting performance in the past, mostly because I did not try to correct the situation by working on my grip strength.

For example, when I was competing in olympic lifting I could snatch 142.5kg in training (actually have that on video) yet my best in competition was only 125kg (around a 40lbs difference). The main reason was that I often relied on straps during training. The ‘more secure’ grip allowed me to transfer more force the the bar which led to ‘better’ performances in training, but bad ones when it counted.

I didn’t help myself in that I never worked on my grip strength and used straps for all pulls and deadlifts.

I started training on the olympic lifts again, and still train the deadlift hard (my nemesis; which I want to conquer). This time around I decided to throw away my straps completely and work on my grip strength to solve that problem once and for all.

I did the typical grip stuff: Captain of Crush grippers, pinch gripping, bar holds, forearm work, etc. My hands got stronger, on those lifts, but it didn’t seem to transfer 100% to the actual performance of snatches, cleans and deadlifts.

So I looked elsewhere, to one of the strongest grip-man (if not THE strongest) of all tine: Hermann Goerner. That man has too many grip-strength feats to number them, but suffice to say that he has deadlifted over 750lbs with ONE HAND. This requires a grip of steal!

How did he train his grip strength? He would ramp up the weight on his deadlifts (and one-hand deadlifts)… with the lighter loads he would use a tougher grip and as the weight were getting heavier and heavier he would switch to a stronger and stronger grip type.

For example, he might start his deadlifts by using a supinated (palms forward) grip, using only two fingers per hand. He would ramp up the weight…

When the load got challenging for that grip he would switch to a pronated grip (palms facing him) still using only two fingers…

When that second grip type was starting to be problematic he would switch to a three fingers supinated grip… then eventually to a three fingers pronated grip…

When three fingers were not enough he would use a full, supinated grip (using the 4 fingers and the thumb wrapped around the bar) then a full pronated grip…

When the full pronated grip was starting to be tough he finally switched to an alternating grip.

This progression is a bit long for myself, as I’m not a grip-master yet, so I adapted it. It looks like that:

GRIP TYPE 1: Two-fingers (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 2: Three-fingers (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 3: Full grip (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 4: Hook grip (olympic lifting grip)
GRIP TYPE 5: Alternating grip

I ramp up the weight on all sets. I use this method for deadlifts and shrugs (which I now use as my main grip exercise).

I find that this…

  • Transfers directly to gripping performance on the actual lifts
  • Gave me really deep forearm soreness the next day, the first time I tried it


Goerner is not the only one to recommend such technique. At least two other respected authorities recommended a somewhat similar approach.

Years ago Tommy Kono (former world champion olympic lifter) recommended that those who have a weak grip do their olympic lifts with a regular full grip instead of the typical hook grip (which is more securem but doesn’t improve grip strength) on snatches and clean until the weight on those lifts absolutely require the use of a hook grip. Over time this makes the grip much stronger.

Charles Poliquin also recommends the same when he works with female olympic lifters. In OL the women lifts on a smaller bar, less thick (25mm instead of 28mm). Charles recommends that the female lifters use the men’s bar for as long as they can, and switch to the women’s bar when the weight gets heavy. He noticed an actual increase in pulling strength as soon as you switch bar (better neural activation).

He recommended something similar on rowing movements… guys can use a thick bar for the lighter work sets and switch to a regular sized bar as the weight gets heavier.

Train them if you want them to grow and you arent super gifted. They’re probably a LITTLE less stubborn than calves, but they can certainly be improved to an extent.

Pinwheels are bringing mine up nicely, in fact I’ve got a massive dose of 2nd day forearm DOMS from them just now. Added half an inch or so in a few months. Still do hammer curls now and then but I don’t think they’re as effective as PWs for me.

Haven’t tried the Thor’s Hammer CT talks about but I now have one of those adjustable dumbbells so will do.

i’ve never trained forearms directly.

then again, my forearms don’t like like the pic in the post

When I was training in a more powerlifting style in the mid 1990’s (500+ deads, BB rows etc), my forearms were pretty beefy (15"). In the time since then, I’ve had some wrist issues, some chronic forearm inflammation etc… these days, I’ll do some sets up BB wrist extensions and behind the back BB curls on my abs/cardio days during a prep (but am honestly considering keeping them in my offseason though). While my initial plan was to maybe get some extra vascularity, I think the noticeable improvements in my brachiallis area have been worth it (can’t do hammer curls, so this has been great).


Stop using straps on deadlift and I guarantee you that forearms will appreciate it.

If you can’t go as heavy as you would like on DL then do just warm up sets without straps.

I never used to directly train forearms but took the view that they might grow naturally from the secondary benefit of other exercises, however recently I started to wonder what might happen if I did research a training routine for them and see what would happen if I started to target them.

I started with the usual forward and backward wrist curls to see what affect that would have, but at the same time I was playing with 2 and 3 finger holds on various exercises to improve grip and forearm size/strength.

I’m now starting to bring in farmers walk with the heaviest dumbells I can manage for several lengths of the gym and that really seems to blow them up for me. Also playing with static dumbell holds on the preacher bench to improve wrist strength.

Compared to just hoping they grow naturally from doing other exercises, I do feel they are improving far better with the targetted exercises such as farmers walk and static holds.

In my opinion, the antebrachii are similar the the calves in so far that genetics are a very strong factor.
Contrary to calves however, trainees can at least expect some carryover from a lot of popular exercises
With so many great exercises already mentioned, there’s not much more to say here, except one thing:
It might be helpul to consider that the biceps exercises and underarm exercises are not only anatomically, but functionally, neighbours.

Thor’s Hammer is practically all biceps. Hammer Curls are a brachialis first, who is btw stronger (and should remain so!) then the biceps. etc…

Pinwheels, hamer curls, reverse curls and sometimes fat grip work.

My forearms are not overly massive, but in pretty ok proportion to my upper arms. I always found strengh work such as heavy rack pulls, deadlifts, high pulls, cleans, etc. to be best in terms of forearm development and never really got much out of additional isolation work. I deadlift 560+ from the floor for reps with no straps (no belt either). For me, work on the big lifts is the best way to improve forearms.

About a month ago I purchased two pairs of fat grips. I believe my forearms already got a bit more massive and definitively stronger.

fat grips for all lifts [minus snatch and clJK] for 2 weeks out of every 6.


[quote]Schwarzfahrer wrote:
In my opinion, the antebrachii are similar the the calves in so far that genetics are a very strong factor.
Contrary to calves however, trainees can at least expect some carryover from a lot of popular exercises



If your forearms aren’t genetically thick, you’ll have to train them directly to catch them up to the rest of you. I do train them (and I should train them more) because mine are pathetically small without the extra work, and merely acceptable with it.

I definitely agree with the people who’ve suggested fat grips.

Since joining a gym in which all the DBs over 20lbs have thick handles I’ve noticed a fairly significant improvement in my forearms.

It seems that forearms respond to frequent and constant stimulus in much the same way as calves. Using thick bars allows you to place a stimulus on the forearms every time you hold a free weight, this is far more effective than doing a few dedicated sets of wrist curls etc.