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How to Get Big Forearms

Forearms, along with abs, neck and lower back, are one of the most neglected body parts by the average gym-goer. Even worse, professional bodybuilders, who are supposed to present the total package of musculature, often don't work forearms. Why is it that nobody seems to care about this extremely important body part? Hopefully I will be able to convince you that forearms are just as important to exercise as chest or legs.

Forearms: Anatomy

Two bones make up the forearm area: the ulna and radius. When the arm is at its side and the hand is supinated (palm facing forward), the ulna is the bone running along the inside of the arm (the medial bone) and the radius is running along the outside (the lateral bone). The proximal (close to the body) joint of the ulna is at the upper arm bone (humerus) at the medial epicondyle (the bony prominence at the end of the humerus on the inside of the arm), and the radius connects at the corresponding lateral epicondyle (the outside prominence) of the humerus. At the distal (far from the body) joint of the forearm, the ulna and radius connect through a series of ligaments to the eight carpal bones of the hand (Lunate, Triquertrum, Pisiform, Hamate, Scaphoid, Capitate, Trapezoid, Trapezium). 

The musculature of the forearm consists of an amazing amount of muscles. The main pronators (turning palm from facing forward to facing backward) of the forearm are the Pronator Quadratus and the Pronator Teres. The major supinating muscles (turnng palm from backwards to forwards) are the supinator and the biceps brachii muscles. The forearm also contains abductor and adductor muscles (laterally moving the hand outwards and inwards), flexor and extensor muscles (flexing the hand inwards and extending it outwards), and flexors and extensors of the fingers and thumbs.

Forearm Training and Exercises

Reverse Curl:

Take the barbell and hold it down at your thighs, gripping it a shoulder’s length or perhaps an inch or two narrower. Make sure that you have a reverse grip, which means that your palms are facing away from you, not toward you. Keeping your elbows locked into your sides, slowly lift the bar toward your torso.

You should stop when your forearms are completely contracted, which means that your hands should be across from your shoulders. Slowly let the weight bring your arms back to the starting position – down at your legs – while you squeeze your forearm muscles during the negative motion. Try 8-10 reps for three sets.

Barbell Wrist Curls:

This exercise is more effective from a seated position. Sitting on a bench, take the barbell into your hands with your palms facing upward. Make sure that your hands are together during this exercise, maybe a half inch between them. Also, your elbows should be locked to the insides of your knees. With the weight on your fingertips, your hands should be pointing toward the floor as your wrist forms an angle of almost 90 degrees.

Then, roll your hands upward, as the bar gradually rolls into your palms, until your wrists are straight and no longer bent downward. Squeeze the forearms throughout the entire range of motion. Slowly allow the weight to bring your hands back down to the starting position. Repeat the motion, doing 8-10 repetitions for a set of three.

Reverse Barbell Wrist Curls:

This exercise is practically identical to the barbell wrist curls (above) with one exception. The palms are facing downward instead of upward. Sit on the bench and lock you elbows inside your knees. The weight should be down at your fingertips and your wrists bent toward the floor. Slowly roll the weight into your palms, lifting the weight upward, squeezing the forearm muscles the entire time. Bring your wrists up as far as they’ll go, and then slowly bring the weight down to the starting position. These should really burn! Try three sets of 8-10 reps.

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