T Nation

Problem Forearms

Longtime lurker, coming in from the cold.

About me:

Age 23. Just over 2 years lifting. Started after a bad shoulder dislocation in a boxing match. My doctor and a surgeon told me that I would never lift my arm above my head again, let alone do any kind of sport.

First six months of training were spent laying a foundation. My program was handstands and rotator cuff exercises, with chinups and rows, done 4 times a week. After the first 6 months, I moved to a slightly more sophisticated program, built around deadlifts, pistols, ohp, handstand pressup progressions, rows and ring work.

After about 10 months I moved on to 5/3/1, and started squatting (No rack, so I use a sandbag for front squats) and benching. My ohp was pretty strong given I had done over head pressing work 3 x per week at least for an entire year. I ran 5/3/1 for a year, until about a month ago. Now I do my own program which keeps me more engaged.

My fighting weight at 6’1 for boxing was 152 lbs. I am now 187lbs, at somewhere around 10% bf I would say (I have well defined abs, vascularity on them, arms, calves etc). My diet is not too much of an issue. I tend to have a 4 egg omlette in the morning, with olive oil and chedder cheese, a couple of bowls of meat and veg soup for lunch, usually with some fish and salad, peanuts to snack on throughout the day, a solid meal in the evening, always meat and veg, with either rice or potatoes, then a protein shake about an hour before bed.

My stats are:

Sandbag front squat: 242 10 sets x 3 reps
Deadlift: 378 10 x 3
Bench: 219 10 x 3
Military press: 170 10 x 3

Clearly my obsession with shoulder strength has lead to a proportionately stronger OHP. Legs were already quite strong and developed from a lifetime of hill sprints. Bench is a hard one for me as I have to do it quite close grip to protect my shoulder. My program is still fundamentally based around doing one of these lifts per workout, with high volume assistance work on 3-4 exercises.

On to my question/issue: I have made good gains across my entire body, and look radically different from when I was fighting. However, one area that hasn’t grown is my forearms. They have become ‘very’ strong, as I have tried hard to bring them up for about 18 months or so now (I can close a CoC #2.5, and clean a 130lb sandbag holding the canvas). Yet I have 15" arms, with 11 3/4" forearms. I am starting to look like a T-rex.

I have tried: 50 rep wrist curls, farmers walks, barbell carries, sandbag cleans holding the bag by the canvas. I have also had various jobs doing manual labour, involving 12 hour days with a sledge hammer or axe. I am literally at my wits end. They haven’t grown at all since I started out. Any bodybuilding voodoo you may have to bring them up would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

15’’ arm and 12’’ forearms is totally in the normal range proportion.

Eric

Forearm rollers and towel pull-ups.

you need to get bigger period. Then hold more weight.

[quote]TT Eric wrote:
15’’ arm and 12’’ forearms is totally in the normal range proportion.

Eric [/quote]

X2. Were you hoping for 15" arms with 14" forearms?

You can’t expect massive forearm growth over a short period of time. You said you’ve been training 2 years. That’s not long. Grow everything else, your forearms are obviously not being neglected, so they should grow as well. This sounds like a non-issue.

Towel pullups don’t seem to help (I do them regularly, as well as ring pullups with fabric over the rings to make them thicker). I will try the wrist roller. As I say, I have strong forearms, they are just not big compared to many people weaker and otherwise smaller than me. It is annoying. Big forearms are cool.

[quote]H1989S wrote:
Towel pullups don’t seem to help (I do them regularly, as well as ring pullups with fabric over the rings to make them thicker). I will try the wrist roller. As I say, I have strong forearms, they are just not big compared to many people weaker and otherwise smaller than me. It is annoying. Big forearms are cool. [/quote]

Are you saying that you’ve seen people with upper arms smaller than 15" AND forearms larger than 12"? And “many” at that? come on man.

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]H1989S wrote:
Towel pullups don’t seem to help (I do them regularly, as well as ring pullups with fabric over the rings to make them thicker). I will try the wrist roller. As I say, I have strong forearms, they are just not big compared to many people weaker and otherwise smaller than me. It is annoying. Big forearms are cool. [/quote]

Are you saying that you’ve seen people with upper arms smaller than 15" AND forearms larger than 12"? And “many” at that? come on man.[/quote]

I had never measured my forearms, so I just did.

Are my forearms big, small, or average, compared to my upper arms? I’ll tell you what my forearms measure after you answer that. For reference, my upper arms are about 17.

My forearms flexed are about 17" or more. I haven’t measured them in years.

There is no way in hell you will have huge forearms at 6’1" and UNDER 190lbs.

Seriously, has the concept of gaining a lot of muscle first just left the building?

If there is no mass there, what are you guys doing?

fat gripz

[quote]Professor X wrote:
My forearms flexed are about 17" or more. I haven’t measured them in years.

There is no way in hell you will have huge forearms at 6’1" and UNDER 190lbs.

Seriously, has the concept of gaining a lot of muscle first just left the building?

If there is no mass there, what are you guys doing?[/quote]

x2 mine measure around 15 flexed/pumped my upper is just under 19’ when hot.

14 and 18 when cold.

[quote]Marzouk wrote:

[quote]Professor X wrote:
My forearms flexed are about 17" or more. I haven’t measured them in years.

There is no way in hell you will have huge forearms at 6’1" and UNDER 190lbs.

Seriously, has the concept of gaining a lot of muscle first just left the building?

If there is no mass there, what are you guys doing?[/quote]

x2 mine measure around 15 flexed/pumped my upper is just under 19’ when hot.

14 and 18 when cold.

[/quote]

Datz my point. I’m 17 and 13. You’re 18 and 14. OP is 15 and 12. The ratios are fairly consistent. 3-4 inch difference. If you want bigger forearms, you just get bigger period. I weigh less than Marzouk, who weighs less than X, and we’re all bigger than you. The forearms are part of it. Nobody’s getting 15" forearms on a 15" upper arm unless they’re eating a TON of spinach. Like, cans of it every day.

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]Marzouk wrote:

[quote]Professor X wrote:
My forearms flexed are about 17" or more. I haven’t measured them in years.

There is no way in hell you will have huge forearms at 6’1" and UNDER 190lbs.

Seriously, has the concept of gaining a lot of muscle first just left the building?

If there is no mass there, what are you guys doing?[/quote]

x2 mine measure around 15 flexed/pumped my upper is just under 19’ when hot.

14 and 18 when cold.

[/quote]

Datz my point. I’m 17 and 13. You’re 18 and 14. OP is 15 and 12. The ratios are fairly consistent. 3-4 inch difference. If you want bigger forearms, you just get bigger period. I weigh less than Marzouk, who weighs less than X, and we’re all bigger than you. The forearms are part of it. Nobody’s getting 15" forearms on a 15" upper arm unless they’re eating a TON of spinach. Like, cans of it every day.[/quote]

Yeah seems likes a good ratio, X’s upper arm is probably around the 21’’ range putting him at 17 on his forearm.

Eat more basically and lift more. For reference i’m around the 230 mark, X is probably circa 250-260. Not too sure about flip maybe 200 or so.

op my arms are 17 and forearms are probably only an inch bigger than yours…

lol…

you need to get bigger arms and your forearms will go up…

-.-

its nit an overnight thing either, it takes a lot of time. Never really done any direct forearm work whatsoever.

Deadlifts and back sessions seemed to take care of them for me, and i use straps 90% of the time.

[quote]Marzouk wrote:
Not too sure about flip maybe 200 or so. [/quote]

I’m 180-185, 5’10"

I do know plenty of people with arms smaller than mine, but forearms bigger. I have worked with plenty of labourers who have proportionately. My younger brother, who is naturally much bigger than me, and who only plays rugby, doesn’t lift weights, also has 15" arms, with 13.5" forearms. My flatmate, who competed at high levels in bjj, had massive forearms, probably within an inch and a half of decent sized upper arms.

I take your points, and thank you for taking the time to give me your feedback, especially with your own measurements by way of example, and in my case I may well just need to be bigger all over. It does however seem to me, purely from anecdotal evidence, that there are a good number of people who do limited weightlifting with substantial forearms, people otherwise smaller and weaker than me. I suppose it is also a function of being taller that I need to carry more muscle relatively to look big.

[quote]H1989S wrote:
I do know plenty of people with arms smaller than mine, but forearms bigger. I have worked with plenty of labourers who have proportionately. My younger brother, who is naturally much bigger than me, and who only plays rugby, doesn’t lift weights, also has 15" arms, with 13.5" forearms. My flatmate, who competed at high levels in bjj, had massive forearms, probably within an inch and a half of decent sized upper arms.

I take your points, and thank you for taking the time to give me your feedback, especially with your own measurements by way of example, and in my case I may well just need to be bigger all over. It does however seem to me, purely from anecdotal evidence, that there are a good number of people who do limited weightlifting with substantial forearms, people otherwise smaller and weaker than me. I suppose it is also a function of being taller that I need to carry more muscle relatively to look big.

[/quote]

You know what irks me? Beginners talking about “anecdotal evidence” based on limited knowledge and life experience. Some people have HUGE calves and never train them. That doesn’t mean the way to huge calves is ignoring them.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]H1989S wrote:
I do know plenty of people with arms smaller than mine, but forearms bigger. I have worked with plenty of labourers who have proportionately. My younger brother, who is naturally much bigger than me, and who only plays rugby, doesn’t lift weights, also has 15" arms, with 13.5" forearms. My flatmate, who competed at high levels in bjj, had massive forearms, probably within an inch and a half of decent sized upper arms.

I take your points, and thank you for taking the time to give me your feedback, especially with your own measurements by way of example, and in my case I may well just need to be bigger all over. It does however seem to me, purely from anecdotal evidence, that there are a good number of people who do limited weightlifting with substantial forearms, people otherwise smaller and weaker than me. I suppose it is also a function of being taller that I need to carry more muscle relatively to look big.

[/quote]

You know what irks me? Beginners talking about “anecdotal evidence” based on limited knowledge and life experience. Some people have HUGE calves and never train them. That doesn’t mean the way to huge calves is ignoring them.

[/quote]

I’ve said this before, and I definitely think it applies here. I trained and read articles and forum posts from the big guys on here for nearly 10 YEARS before I felt like I had any business posting in the forums. There’s so much info on here that’s so easily searchable, I don’t understand why so many beginners push their preconceived notions, their anecdotal evidence, on people who know/have been through so much more.

This is probably completely bogus, but this sounds like what you want to hear.

Alan Calvert, in Super Strength, 1924: “The very best forearm exercise is the one invented by George Zottman.[…]One of the greatest tests of forearm strength is to curl a thick bar with the over-grip.[…]It is very important to develop your forearm to the limit, because the bigger your forearm gets, the bigger your upper arm can get. In fact, if you properly develop your forearms and the deltoid muscles on the point of the shoulder, your upper arms will develop themselves. If you have time only for a little forearm exercise, use the Zottman exercise, or two-hand curling in preference to the exercise shown in Fig. 85.”

http://www34.brinkster.com/superstrength/17.htm

We have several decades more knowledge now than we did then. The biggest forearms today are bigger than the biggest forearms then. Just to put it into context.

In other news, I hear Maria Ozawa’s good for the forearms. (NSFW)