T Nation

Increasing Forearm Size


Has anyone had good success with increasing their forearm size from a specific programme?
Mine are (i feel) a bit weedy and would appreciate any advice you can offer.


I don't usually train my forearms directly, however, early on I was told to avoid using wrist straps unless absolutely necessary. I think avoiding the use of them unless I am going so heavy that my grip can't possibly hold the weight has helped more than anything. Hammer curls and wrist curls also help. The rest of their development will be based on you actually using relatively heavy weight for the exercises you do. Your body adapts to what you throw at it. If the weights you are using truly aren't that heavy, don't expect much in the way of development.


Thanks Prof X. I only use straps if i'm going for relativley heavy (for me) singles in the deadlift. I normally use a mixed grip when i'm doing sets of 3 deadlifts and feel they have added some flexor size. I seem to remember (and must search) an article in the roundtable suggesting ulnar and radial deviation with a one sided dumbbell and reverse curls. I'll look it up and give them a go. I guess for most people the extensors are the more neglected area of the arm?


You can also add some supplementary wrist curls and such as long as you stay clear of failure so as to not impede your progress on the compounds.


Thanks Majin.
What protocol for wrist curls? heavy/light, rep range? or just mix it up - i normally like to do heavy weight low reps whilst staying a rep away from failure.

Another question - what size are your (the readers) forearms? I'm not obsessed by the tape as i know that everyone has a different look regardless of size based on their height/weight and correlation to size of the upper arm (Bruce Lee for instance). I taped mine today at just over 14" but i'm about 280ish (fattie) with an upper arm of 19".
cheers for any help


Holding on to really heavy weight, be it in a deadlift, shrug, farmer's walk, or even bent row, without straps is a good way to increase forearm size.


Bigaroo - i feel that i'm doing that 210kg deadlift and sets of 5 reps with 120kg in the bent row - still have puny forearms though lol.


Have you tried holding on to the weight for time? Or hanging from a pull up bar for time? It works the hell out of your forearms.


Flexed, my forearms are about 17". I suppose I could train them directly to make them bigger, but they would probably look retarded any closer to the size of my biceps.

What Bigragoo wrote about static contractions helps in many areas, not just forearm development. I used static holds when I first got into heavy shrugs because I was more limited then by the weight I could actually use. Me and my training partners used to go as heavy as possible for reps, and for the last set, add more weight and simply see who could hold it the longest. We would usually drop the weight after about 40 second, but it helped my body get used to performing with even more weight outside of my comfort zone.

As far as forearms go, I believe heavy dumbbell curls also help. It goes against this current trend lately to avoid all isolation work (something I do not agree with). I generally hold the belief that the only way someone will have truly strong biceps is to have relatively string forearms that assist with the weight used. Again, that points to using heavy weight and not being afraid of lower reps.


The only method that has significantly increased my forearm size is pullups from a gi or towels. Just drape a gi (or two towels at shoulder width), grip it tight, and do pullups in whatever rep range you've been doing. It will hurt, but your forarm, hand, and even fingers will get thicker and veiny. Not to mention strong. Also, regular rockclimbing seems pretty effective, and more fun than puny wrist curls. Hope this helps.


Forearms like volume because there are all those small muscles you use in everyday life(rotation, grip, dorsiflexion...) that will eventually kick in to support the primes. You're training low reps already so it would make sense to work them with about 2 sets of 10-12. Don't worry about using lower weight, just concentrate on form and contraction. Forearms can be easily beaten up.

Another good blaster exercise is when you grab the edge of a dumbell bar(no weight) so that the edge is at thumb side of your fist and rotate the wrist. For variety you can do it either with the arm straight in front of you or with your arm bent in a bicep curl position. Just make sure you place your arm so that you get a decent contraction at the top of the movement. The same exercise can be performed with the edge of the bar on the pinky side - your outer forearms will thank you by ceasing to function. Again this one seems very light but it will trash you like crazy.

If you stay clear of failure you can easily perform a farearm exercise 3x/week at the end of the workout. Start out with one set and then ad another one next week. Rest btw sets barely matters, you don't even have to measure it, just go by feeling. And don't increase weight, increase volume. You can use the same weight for months before adding!

As for size, mine are 14" @ 185lb 5'8 all lean. I know that I can get them bigger but they are not my current area of concentration.

Hope it helps.


Thick bar training build forearms and grip strength. Doing chins on a conventional bar with something wrapped round will do the job too. Otherwise get hold of some or a gym with thick bars and use those for conventional exercises.


find heavy things and dont use aids and pick them up, put them down pick up again, etc. aslo go grab a sholvel dig a big hole. Hammer = roof a house. all kinds of ways to make them grow by doing other stuff.


The way Joe DeFranco likes to do it is to train the grip after a leg day. Wrist curls work, so does plate pinching, CoC grippers, and my personal favorite, the rolly thing whose actual name I can't remember. Get a stick, tie a string to the middle, a weight hanging off, and roll it up, then down, then up.

Don't neglect deadlifts and chins though. They will be your biggest forearm strengtheners.


Excellent advice guys - thanks so much!
I'll start including a lot of the stuff mentioned - i used to hold the end of an olympic bar (wheh racked on the bench) with weight added for time but i stopped for no real reason - that should take care of static contractions and the fat bar all in one :). Wrist roller - just got one.

Prof X - 17" - thats what i'm talkin' about - Popeye methinks.Would that put your upper arm around 21"?

Anyone got a particular desire for a specific muscle to be bigger?
Obviously mines forearms 'cause my Dads are massive i guess and in many ways i look up to him as the strongest man i know.
(i also have a bit of a thing about womens calves)


They are half an inch less than that currently. I am sure they will drop a little as I drop weight. As far as lagging body parts, I wish my calves were genetically larger. While the actual measurement isn't that small, on me they should probably be about 2-3" larger to stand out at all.


Did some timed holds yesterday after bench and rows. Forearms still feel semi pumped. The thick end of an O bar feels really good on this exercise.
Tomorrow deads , OH shrugs and some reverse curls :slight_smile:


row and bench day yesterday again - so timed holds - did the left then right - when doing right my left hand started to clamp shut in spasm lol. I've been getting increased muscle pain in my forearms after doing e-z curls - anyone else experience this?


By John Brookfield

Author of Mastery of Hand Strength,
Training with Cables for Strength and The Grip Master's Manual
A New Twist

In this Grip Tip we will examine a simple exercise that will boost your wrist and forearm strength to new levels. It is perfect for anyone wishing to gain in the strongman game or at the arm wrestling table, or just to pack extra size and strength to the forearms.

To start, you will need is a five-gallon bucket full of sand and a round stick or heavy thick bar. The stick will probably work better?a round dowel rod about 1-1/4-inch thick will be your best bet. The length of the rod doesn?t really matter, but it needs to be at least three feet in length.

If you buy a dowel rod from a hardware store, it will probably be either four or five feet in length. You can leave the rod at its original length or you can cut it shorter, but be sure to leave it at least three feet in length. Once you have your stick of choice and your bucket full of sand, you are ready to begin.

To start, ram the stick deeply into the sand. You should be able to get the stick into the sand by ramming it and twisting it. If this is difficult, simply tap it lightly with a hammer to the desired depth.

From here, you are ready to exercise, and you can either train one hand at a time or both at once. For example, grab the stick with your right hand and twist, turning the stick with force toward the bottom of the bucket. Once you reach the bottom, twist the stick upward toward the top of the sand.

You can twist the stick to the bottom using a counterclockwise motion and use a clockwise twisting motion to come to the top. The choice is yours. Be sure to work each hand equally to develop balanced strength. As I mentioned earlier, you can also twist with two hands at a time.

This new twist in your training will without a doubt take your strength to new levels. You will also have a lot of fun with the New Twist, which is one of the keys for making great gains.


Go to an indoor rock gym for a couple months. It isn't too demanding on recovery and it will work your grip and hand strength in every possible way.

I don't do it as much as I used to do it, but I find it's a good way to get activity on off days while also being good for active recovery. Combined with heavy strapless deadlifts, this should work for you.