Highly noticeable, and in some ways more noticeable than the upper arm, weak and spindly forearms are a dead giveaway. But, as luck would have it increasing forearm size and strength is probably one of the easiest undertakings in bodybuilding.
Forearms tend to have very little muscle mass by nature, and although this limits their growth potential somewhat, you only need to look around and notice that those who do training with weights have far bigger forearms than those who don’t — so it stands to reason that you can have the same.
The muscles of the forearm are used to twist the wrist forwards and backwards, and also to grip. As weight training involves you gripping progressively heavy weights, the grip and thus forearm muscles become bigger and stronger by proxy.
Many experts in strength training and in bodybuilding don’t even advocate direct training of the forearms in the beginning as they feel enough size and strength is built simply by gripping weights. Of course, this will change over time as the need to gain more size and strength becomes more of an uphill struggle, so direct training must be done.
Direct training of the forearms is easy with two simple exercises: wrist curls and reverse wrist girls. These exercises can be done with both hands at the same time using a barbell or singularly using dumbbells. I will only describe how to do them one way as I feel this will make performing the other pretty self-explanatory.
Reverse wrist curls:
I always advocate doing reverse wrist curls first. The reason is in the reverse position not only is the grip at a great disadvantage being overhand, but the muscles being worked in the reverse wrist curls – those on the outer side of the forearm – are far weaker than those on the underside. If I were to work the underside muscles first and exhaust my grip, I would be very, very hard pressed to effectively complete the reverse curls thereafter. I simply would not be able to grip and lift the weights properly.
Performing reverse wrist curls with a dumbbell goes like so: in a seated position with upper legs – the thighs – in a position parallel to the floor hold a dumbbell with an overhand grip over the edge of the knee with your hand freely able to move upwards and downwards unobstructed by the leg. Your forearm should be flat to you thigh and you may wish to hold it in this position with your other hand. Ensuring your forearm stays in this position, simply raise up the wrist as high as you can and slowly lower as low as you can.
Wrist curls are performed in exactly the same way that reverse wrist curls, the only difference being this time you are using an underhand grip and also have the option of doing what some like to do and see us having benefit – opening the grip up at the bottom of the movement allowing the dumbbell to slowly roll down the fingers till the last finger joint and curling a backup from this position. While it certainly gives an extra stretch to the forearm which is always beneficial, to some it can cause pain in the wrist so may be best avoided.