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Grip Strength = Forearm Size?


#1

Hi, I was wondering whether you guys believed that grip strength has a direct correlation with forearm size. My main goal is strength training, which i've recently adapted my workout towards. However, I have certain size goals that I want to reach within a decent time frame. I like training grip and it would be cool if that is all I should be doing to get big forearms.

Right now, I have 13 inch forearms and a relatively weak grip (almost closing CoC #1). I understand that strongman have giant forearms and they don't do any bodybuilding exercises for them, but they are also on a whole other level of physical development compared to someone like me. I also am close to the point where I don't have to wear straps on deadlift, so i'm working on that as well.

Anyway, as a clearer way of asking this, if I get to the grip strength point where I can:
-close #3 CoC Gripper
-pinch grip 2 45s with each hand
-farmers walk for a good 30 seconds with two 225 barbells
-deadlift over-under with 550+ lb

would I have big forearms, or would they still show not that much improvement from where I am now?

thanks


#2

They will probably move this out of the bodybuilding forum, but to address your question on building actual forearm size, from what I can tell you, forearm size and grip strength aren’t very correlated. Grip strength is pretty weird overall, and pretty damn specific. You’ll get the most forearm size probably just from the staple things like wrist curl variations and hammer curls.

As far as pinch grip and crushing grip strength, you can get insanely strong at those without really having forearms that big. My training partner uses the term “grip nerds” to refer to people who can do incredible feats of grip strength but don’t really even look like they lift. So you’ll have to train both goals individually to achieve both size and strength imo, especially the kind of strength you mentioned.

The 225 per hand farmers and the 550 dead shouldn’t be that tough from a grip standpoint, but you need to have a pretty damn strong back before you can even worry about your grip on those, so I’m not sure how close you are from a base strength standpoint.

Pinch gripping two 45’s and closing the CoC #3 are really, really fucking hard things to do. If you seriously want to give it a shot, I suggest you buy John Brookfield’s book “Mastery of Hand Strength” and try and formulate some progression training plans.


#3

Try fat gripz extreme for various arm/assistance exercises and your forearms will blow up as well as grip strength


#4

I understand this question is forearm specific but this question could actually be broadened to “Does (Muscle A) strength correlate to (Muscle A) size?” and the answer is going to be similar, if not the same for any muscle group you will ask this for. Of course the answer for this is a little vague, there is overlap but not a direct correlation. If there was every laborer/mechanic would have very large forearms for his size.

Just like every other muscle group, using varying rep ranges (5-15 reps or even 1-20 depending on your opinion) is going to help a lot for size where heavy weight is going to help most for strength. For forearms you can think of heavy deadlifts as your “strength” work and farmers walks as your “pump/hypertrophy” work. I put both those in quotes because the stronger your grip gets, the better your grip endurance/size growth-potential will be and vice-versa.


#5

[quote]akmcsnarfy wrote:
I understand this question is forearm specific but this question could actually be broadened to “Does (Muscle A) strength correlate to (Muscle A) size?” and the answer is going to be similar, if not the same for any muscle group you will ask this for. Of course the answer for this is a little vague, there is overlap but not a direct correlation. If there was every laborer/mechanic would have very large forearms for his size.

Just like every other muscle group, using varying rep ranges (5-15 reps or even 1-20 depending on your opinion) is going to help a lot for size where heavy weight is going to help most for strength. For forearms you can think of heavy deadlifts as your “strength” work and farmers walks as your “pump/hypertrophy” work. I put both those in quotes because the stronger your grip gets, the better your grip endurance/size growth-potential will be and vice-versa.
[/quote]
I disagree with a lot of this man, sorry :expressionless:

I don’t think forearms and grip strength relate in nearly the same way as most other muscles do. Guys with huge pecs usually have a pretty damn strong chest. Guys with huge arms usually have really strong arms. There are some outliers and leeway one way or the other, but in general it’s pretty related…

I also don’t think heavy deadlifts is going to do that much on its own for your grip strength, and it will only work support grip if it does. Farmer’s walk is basically the exact same. They’re both isometric for grip with a closed fist. Pinch grip is also isometric, but very different, and neither deadlift or farmer’s will specifically build it that well, and I definitely don’t think either will build crush grip or give you that much forearm growth.

If you’re trying to get any forearm hypertrophy or pump I think you need to be moving something in your forearm like with a curl or wrist curl variant.


#6

For whatever it is worth, my observations are in line with what csulli said. I can DL 565 with a mixed grip (over/under) and the last time I tried (which was a while ago) I could do 2 or 3 reps at 405 double-overhand before my grip failed. I can walk pretty far with fat grip 110 pound dumbbells and do sets of 10+ rows with the same fat grip DB’s. I have also been told that my handshake is quite firm.

Despite these heroic feats of hanging on to things, my forearms are not big by any means. I’ve never measured them, but I’d put them at the circumference of an ample beef tenderloin.

Contrast that with an older bodybuilder who works out at my gym. The guy is somewhere in his late 40’s and has these gigantic Popeye forearms but he uses straps on sets of 225 for barbell shrugs. That is a weight I could hold on to forever. Genetics, some shit he did 20 years ago, wrist curls, something gave him those massive forearms and it does not appear to be his grip. He uses straps on all kinds of things that I could easily hold on to and his forearms make mine look like twigs.

I’m sure there is some connection between grips strength and forearm size, but there seem to be other, much more significant factors.


#7

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
For whatever it is worth, my observations are in line with what csulli said. I can DL 565 with a mixed grip (over/under) and the last time I tried (which was a while ago) I could do 2 or 3 reps at 405 double-overhand before my grip failed. I can walk pretty far with fat grip 110 pound dumbbells and do sets of 10+ rows with the same fat grip DB’s. I have also been told that my handshake is quite firm.

Despite these heroic feats of hanging on to things, my forearms are not big by any means. I’ve never measured them, but I’d put them at the circumference of an ample beef tenderloin.

Contrast that with an older bodybuilder who works out at my gym. The guy is somewhere in his late 40’s and has these gigantic Popeye forearms but he uses straps on sets of 225 for barbell shrugs. That is a weight I could hold on to forever. Genetics, some shit he did 20 years ago, wrist curls, something gave him those massive forearms and it does not appear to be his grip. He uses straps on all kinds of things that I could easily hold on to and his forearms make mine look like twigs.

I’m sure there is some connection between grips strength and forearm size, but there seem to be other, much more significant factors. [/quote]

I think equating the use of straps with the NEED for straps may be part of the issue here. I use straps a ton in my training, yet could still grip the stuff I am working with without straps should the need arise. Instead, I find straps allow me to focus more on the muscle or movement I need to train rather than focusing energy on the grip I have. I imagine a bodybuilder, with a focus on muscle development, is going to have a similar approach.

Its akin to seeing someone using a low weight in training and assuming it must be the max they can lift, rather than thinking that they are intentionally employing it for some sort of intended effect.

For the topic at hand, I found that training my grip with grippers helped my forearms grow, but I used some pretty high rep ranges along with low reps and timed holds.


#8

As a climber, I would add that grip strength is very much specific to how you plan on using the grip. Holding a barbell is not the same as pinching two 45’s or using a fatbar/fatgripz. even pinch grip can vary whether you train pinching something wide vs something narrow. Train it how you plan on using it.

I have been doing most of my deadlift lately with a trap bar (mainly because of my hip issues) and I grip it almost completely open-handed with just the last two digits of my fingers bending around and my thumb is a couple inches above the bar and not being used at all. Granted I am only using a little over 300 lbs for sets of 5, but grip is a non-issue for me, and holding it like that translates better to climbing than with the thumb wrapped.


#9

Forearms are like calf muscles. Some guys do bugger all and have good development. Some guys train them hard with little to show for their efforts. Lots of volume seems to be the key to making them grow. I’m not sure that strength is that big a factor.

In the strongman example used you have to remember that those guys are pretty freaking huge all over so it’s not that their forearms are big moreso that they are in proportion to the rest of their huge body.


#10

On some article on here… I think it may have been Cressey or one of those guys, he tacked on a quick tip at the end of training forearms every workout for a year to gain 5 lbs of LBM, but that after that year, growth will basically be nonexistent.


#11

Maybe it will, for you. Get stronger everywhere.


#12

Finally a topic I have some useful input on! I’m a former EXTREME grip nerd, and after some time not focusing on it, I’m getting back into training my hands again lately.

In my opinion you can work your ability to hold stuff (grip strength) or your wrist flexion/extension (forearms). Like others have said, grip strength is pretty specific. You can have a pretty good supporting grip and have small forearms, or a big forearms, but a terrible pinch grip. There may be some overlap where grip strength grows your forearms, or increasing your forearm size makes your grip stronger, but for maximum development you should address both.

While your grip goals look pretty good and well rounded, you’ve got some crushing (grippers) supporting (farmer’s/DL) and pinch, there is no mention of working your forearms with flexion or extension of the elbows or wrists. Thats how you stimulate the largest muscles in your forearms, the ones that will have the most impact on forearm size.

In my experience the best lifts for forearm size are hammer curls, reverse curls, curls with thick bars and the wrist roller. The wrist roller is the absolute best though! If you don’t have one, or access to one, make yourself one. Wrist curls and reverse wrist curls are pretty good to hit the forearms, but a pain to set up and execute. The wrist roller does a more effective job than both of those, and if you have a thick handled roller it will work your grip too.

Also, Rampant Badger mentioned the Fat Gripz handles. I got a set about a month ago, and they are awesome. They go over any barbell dumbell, or any other handle to make it a thick bar. They turn any exercise into a forearm/grip lift.


#13

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
In my experience the best lifts for forearm size are hammer curls, reverse curls, curls with thick bars and the wrist roller. The wrist roller is the absolute best though! If you don’t have one, or access to one, make yourself one. Wrist curls and reverse wrist curls are pretty good to hit the forearms, but a pain to set up and execute. The wrist roller does a more effective job than both of those, and if you have a thick handled roller it will work your grip too.
[/quote]
I cannot believe I forgot to mention wrist rollers! Man it’s been a long time since I’ve used one of those, but you’re right, that will give you the most bang for your buck in the forearms.


#14

[quote]csulli wrote:

I disagree with a lot of this man, sorry :expressionless:

I don’t think forearms and grip strength relate in nearly the same way as most other muscles do. Guys with huge pecs usually have a pretty damn strong chest. Guys with huge arms usually have really strong arms. There are some outliers and leeway one way or the other, but in general it’s pretty related…
[/quote]

If you rely on your bench strength for building a good chest, you’re probably going to be disappointed, tons of guys up their press weight and don’t see the gains they need in chest. Benching for strength and benching to put stress on the pecs are two different things. I agree with the fact that having a strong bench enables you to build good pecs but to give someone the assumption that “strong chest=big chest” could be leading them in the wrong direction. Its like having a strong deadlift to build your back. It gives you the base yes, but it doesn’t do the whole job.

I understand what you mean with adding extra forearm exercises, but at his level I don’t think you really need to be hitting multiple forearm exercises. Deadlifts, Pull-ups and one type of grip (farmer’s walks, pinch grip, etc) would be enough for him at this point. Later in his training routine? Sure, but right now I doubt he needs to be doing every type of grip exercise for forearm gains when I’m sure he could put a lot of strength into his DL and pull-up.


#15

[quote]akmcsnarfy wrote:

[quote]csulli wrote:

I disagree with a lot of this man, sorry :expressionless:

I don’t think forearms and grip strength relate in nearly the same way as most other muscles do. Guys with huge pecs usually have a pretty damn strong chest. Guys with huge arms usually have really strong arms. There are some outliers and leeway one way or the other, but in general it’s pretty related…
[/quote]

If you rely on your bench strength for building a good chest, you’re probably going to be disappointed, tons of guys up their press weight and don’t see the gains they need in chest. Benching for strength and benching to put stress on the pecs are two different things. I agree with the fact that having a strong bench enables you to build good pecs but to give someone the assumption that “strong chest=big chest” could be leading them in the wrong direction. Its like having a strong deadlift to build your back. It gives you the base yes, but it doesn’t do the whole job.
[/quote]

What are you talking about? How is getting your chest stronger so it gets bigger misleading in any way?

How does this relate to the deadlift? The upper back is not a prime mover.


#16

You guys bring up some interesting issues, but we’re not worried about the chest, we want big forearms! The chest argument is kind of missing the point. There are like 17 muscles in your lower arm. The original poster wants big forearms overall, not a huge flexor digitorum. It’s like wanting a big upper body overall including lats delts and traps, not just big pecs. The static grip lifts, pinch, farmer’s, ect work different muscles all together than the wrist lifts.


#17

[quote]csulli wrote:
They will probably move this out of the bodybuilding forum, but to address your question on building actual forearm size, from what I can tell you, forearm size and grip strength aren’t very correlated. Grip strength is pretty weird overall, and pretty damn specific. You’ll get the most forearm size probably just from the staple things like wrist curl variations and hammer curls.

As far as pinch grip and crushing grip strength, you can get insanely strong at those without really having forearms that big. My training partner uses the term “grip nerds” to refer to people who can do incredible feats of grip strength but don’t really even look like they lift. So you’ll have to train both goals individually to achieve both size and strength imo, especially the kind of strength you mentioned.

The 225 per hand farmers and the 550 dead shouldn’t be that tough from a grip standpoint, but you need to have a pretty damn strong back before you can even worry about your grip on those, so I’m not sure how close you are from a base strength standpoint.

Pinch gripping two 45’s and closing the CoC #3 are really, really fucking hard things to do. If you seriously want to give it a shot, I suggest you buy John Brookfield’s book “Mastery of Hand Strength” and try and formulate some progression training plans.[/quote]

yeah i never know where to post things, i guess from now on whenever I have a doubt about subforum ill just post in bigger stronger leaner

and since i am fairly new to grip work and lifting in general compared to others on here, i didnt have much of a concept of how difficult certain grip feats are, as 225 farmers and coc#3 seem equally far out of range

and i agree with the grip nerds statement, i was watching a video of some guy doing a double deadlift, pinching 2 45s with each hand and his forearms look no bigger than mine.


#18

[quote]akmcsnarfy wrote:
I understand this question is forearm specific but this question could actually be broadened to “Does (Muscle A) strength correlate to (Muscle A) size?” and the answer is going to be similar, if not the same for any muscle group you will ask this for. Of course the answer for this is a little vague, there is overlap but not a direct correlation. If there was every laborer/mechanic would have very large forearms for his size.

Just like every other muscle group, using varying rep ranges (5-15 reps or even 1-20 depending on your opinion) is going to help a lot for size where heavy weight is going to help most for strength. For forearms you can think of heavy deadlifts as your “strength” work and farmers walks as your “pump/hypertrophy” work. I put both those in quotes because the stronger your grip gets, the better your grip endurance/size growth-potential will be and vice-versa.
[/quote]

for a teenager, i feel like I understand the whole strength = muscle growth better than most

when i reach the point where i can curl 135, my arms will be much bigger than they are now, regardless of how many sets of concentration curls i do on the way there

but the reason i asked this question is because of all the “grip nerds” (credit to csulli for the term) who have superhero grip yet have forearms smaller than 14 inches.


#19

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
Finally a topic I have some useful input on! I’m a former EXTREME grip nerd, and after some time not focusing on it, I’m getting back into training my hands again lately.

In my opinion you can work your ability to hold stuff (grip strength) or your wrist flexion/extension (forearms). Like others have said, grip strength is pretty specific. You can have a pretty good supporting grip and have small forearms, or a big forearms, but a terrible pinch grip. There may be some overlap where grip strength grows your forearms, or increasing your forearm size makes your grip stronger, but for maximum development you should address both.

While your grip goals look pretty good and well rounded, you’ve got some crushing (grippers) supporting (farmer’s/DL) and pinch, there is no mention of working your forearms with flexion or extension of the elbows or wrists. Thats how you stimulate the largest muscles in your forearms, the ones that will have the most impact on forearm size.

In my experience the best lifts for forearm size are hammer curls, reverse curls, curls with thick bars and the wrist roller. The wrist roller is the absolute best though! If you don’t have one, or access to one, make yourself one. Wrist curls and reverse wrist curls are pretty good to hit the forearms, but a pain to set up and execute. The wrist roller does a more effective job than both of those, and if you have a thick handled roller it will work your grip too.

Also, Rampant Badger mentioned the Fat Gripz handles. I got a set about a month ago, and they are awesome. They go over any barbell dumbell, or any other handle to make it a thick bar. They turn any exercise into a forearm/grip lift.

[/quote]

thanks for the suggestion about the wrist roller, i kind of look over that in the gym because it has these default plates that go up to like 10 pounds, so i figured it was kind of pointless. I will have to try to put normal plates on there so it becomes a challenge.

on this article on tnation: http://www.T-Nation.com/training/best-forearm-exercise

it says that a 75 pound roll-up for 3 is in the advanced stage

if i was capable of performing that as well as say a 60 pound reverse dumbbell curl for 10+ reps, would it be pretty much mandatory of me having big forearms? (like 16+) (i know every scenario is different, but hypothetically id assume that means id be having some decent size forearms)

for example my routine would be along the lines of
deadlift without straps (i am working on my grip to do so)
wrist roller (no idea for sets x reps)
and then like working up to a set where i hit the reverse dumbbell curls to failure

i would do captain of crush at home whenever i feel up to it and dont have to worry about grip the next day

thanks everyone for the thought out responses!!
i really like the community on these forums compared to others


#20

[quote]dt79 wrote:

What are you talking about? How is getting your chest stronger so it gets bigger misleading in any way?

[/quote]

if you read my previous comment this will be answered for you