T Nation

Skinny Wrists and Weak Forearms


Are skinny wrists and weak forearms holding me back?
Here are my stats:

Age: 20
Weight: 170
Height: 6' 1"
Bench: 185
Deadlift: 200
Squat: 225x2
Curls: 15lbs on barbell

So I've been trying to bulk since Freshman year of college and I'm currently a Sophomore. I've gained 10-15lbs of muscle but I've hit a wall for the past 8 months. I feel like my whole body is lagging but especially my forearms. I still have the same wrists that I had when I was 15. Also, I feel like I can't increase my deadlift because my grip is holding me back. I tried wriststraps and they helped a little but I want to be able to do them naturally.

I've heard people mention different things for grip and forearm strength and was wondering if anyone could suggest anything. I tried hanging towel chin-ups and reverse curls but I haven't seen much if any growth. Does anyone have suggestions?

Will post pics soon.

Thanks guys.

 Howdy, well I'm no expert, but I'll tell you what worked for me.  It sounds like I had the same exact build in highschool and, as a result I was plagued with the same exact forearm problem.

My wrists looked like a 10 year old girls, and it seemed like even my bench suffered and I don't even want to get started on my deadlift numbers. Also, its a little strange that you can deadlift more than you can squat, so I'm thinking it must be because of your forearms.

I'm currently 223 at 6'0 and it took me a long time to get where I am, but I'm slowly becoming more content with it. I tried the Captains of Crush as well as the hanging towel chins, and it helped with my grip but not forearm development. However, what worked the most for me was this thing called a POWERBALL. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I brought it with me everywhere, so I was constantly shocking my forearms.

You could give one of those a try, the cheapest I found them was at www.jdsportswm.com I was kind of skeptical at first, but it really got me where I need to be in terms of forearm strength and development. I used captains of krush for a while, but I could powerball while on T-Nation, so that was a huge plus.

Good luck mate,


Here are a couple of thoughts that just might help.

First, the deadlift is a fantastic grip exercise, and you ruin this by using straps. You might want to rethink your priorities.

Second, if it's important to work your lower body without being held back by grip, try resetting the weight on the ground between each rep, if you're not already. This allows you get a perfect grip for each rep. If you haven't already learned mixed grip, learn it. Consider switching your grip between reps, if that's what it takes to keep going.

Finally, you might be surprised how absurdly specific forearm and grip work can be. Most forearm isolation exercises, including wrist curls, somehow help only very slightly (if at all) with the grip you use for deadlift. Also, those hand grip training devices usually carry over poorly to deadlift (but may carry over well to other things). Deadlifting can give you a really great grip, but you might end up with modest forearms. I have friends who have much bigger forearms than I, but they are deficient at gripping the bar for deadlifts.


I think Chad Waterbury had a program for getting massive forearms. Check out his archives!


first off, you should put on some weight. eat more. if your sticking around 170 at 6'1 you need food. that will help your numbers. in regards to forearms and grip, if you want, try chalk, that will help hold the bar longer. also, switching up grips for dl should help on forearm/grip work. but overall i would say you need to gain some weight and maybe revaluate training. you can do it... good luck.


Charles Poliquin has a forearm/Grip programme in the archives, if you cant find it, I can email it to you. I think its a 6 month programme.


I think your biggest problem isn't grip/forearm strength, it's lack of strength in other areas. I have broken both wrists twice and both are small as hell. Yet my weight room numbers are much higher than that. So basically, the skinny wrist thing isn't something that can truly hold you back unless you have some kind of weird mental handicap because of it.


Judo is good, or any other form of grappling.


Hi CJ,

First, if you haven't already done so, stop using straps, Period! That means don't use them for any exercise, pull-ups, deadlifts, any exercise. All they do is rob you of developing the grip strength to perform the exercise.

Second, realize that there are different types of grip strength (as was already stated). There is support grip strength (which is the kind needed for things like heavy Deadlifts), crushing grip strength (COC grippers), and pinch grip strength (rafter pull-ups) to name a few.

As was also already stated, one type of grip strength doesn't necessarily mean that you will be strong in the other types. I've seen guys who are world champion deadlifters (who could deadlift over 800 lbs) not be able to close even a #2 COC gripper (which takes only about 195 lbs to close).

So, realize that nothing will give you the specific type of grip strength more effectively than actually doing the exercise itself. If you want a strong grip for Deadlifts, keep on deadlifting.

That said, I don't think it would hurt to do other gripping exercises as well. Just try to use exercises that will improve the type of grip strength that you are trying to improve.

Good luck and good training,



If your gym has a thickbar.... That's what's helped my grip a lot. Do rack pulls with various grips (both hands knuckles up, pronated, mixed) and do ten or twenty count holds, throwing more weight on it each time. Just using a normal bar and pulling deads for reps with a knuckles up grip is good, too. Don't switch to a mixed grip until you absolutely can't hold on. Boring shit like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls beef up your forearms and strengthen your wrists, too.

Pinching a couple plates together, too. And all the other grip specific exercises are good, too. If it's a weak point, work the fuck out of it and it'll come up eventually.


I would say that, except for his 200 lb deadlift. I mean that's just pathetic, there's no way it should be that low.

Definitely use a mixed grip though, that should help.


A lot of great advice. I will not say much for I am a beginner but I do know of a great exercise that I have been doing that an old timer showed me in the gym. He said that he watched a guy grow his bicep; he said an inch in 6 weeks, by doing this exercise. Also, as a result your grip and forearm will improve as it is part forearm and part bicep exercise. I will try to explain the best I can as it would be a lot easier to show you. I can confess that although my biceps are not huge I have seen improvement and my forearms are developing more.

I am sure you have heard about 21's, well this is similar.

Take a ten pound weight. Place yourself in a seated concentrated curl position and do not rest your elbow against your inner thigh. You will curl the 10 pounds for 10 full reps. Allow yourself to bring the weight all the way down fully extending your arm on every rep and at the top of the curl, make an exaggerated effort to really contract your bicep and squeeze it. After the 10 reps, no break, curl the 10 pounds 1/3 of the way. (NOTE: when you curl the first third of the way it is important that you also curl your wrist as if doing forearm curls). Lower the weight and curl 1/2 way again curling your wrist, and finally perform a full curl again pausing and contracting your bicep muscle at the peak of the rep. You should repeat this 1/3, 1/2, full rep for a total of ten reps.

I do this on my arms days as a way you burning out my forearms and biceps.


I do a number of things that help my grip:

1) COC and Plate Loaded crush grip
2) No straps
3) Farmers walk
4) Use a thick bar
5) Wrist roller