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The 10 Best Forearm Exercises

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The Best Forearm Exercises

What are the best forearm exercises?

If you’re on a mission to build strong and sculpted forearm muscles, look no further than this post.

We’re here to share the best forearm workouts that will build forearm strength and help you strengthen the jacked arms you’ll want to show off everywhere you go.

To build forearm mass and grip strength, these exercises can be implemented in the gym or at home a few times a week. 

Let’s jump in, and you’ll be well on your way to jacked forearms.

 

The Best Forearm Exercises

Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being. 

Here’s our list of the 10 best forearm exercises:

 

10. Plate Pinches

Best Forearm Exercises - Plate Pinches

Great for: 

Training and building strength in the fingers, thumbs, and forearms.

How to do it:

  1. Grab a heavy bumper plate (anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds)
  2. Maintaining good posture, hold for 25 seconds
  3. For an additional challenge, walk while pinching the plates

Why:

While it may seem like a simple move, plate pinching helps with sport-specific holds for athletes or those trying to improve their grip strength and build beefy forearms.

Plate pinches improve the strength in the important muscle-bearing fingers, particularly the thumb, which can deteriorate over time. 

When:

Incorporate the plate pinch into any arm or upper body workout for strength and building muscle mass in the forearms. 

If you can hold for more than 30 seconds, add more weight and try walking around to increase the effort.

 

9. Bar Hangs

Best Forearm Exercises - Bar Hangs

Great for: 

Building strength and stamina in the forearms and lat muscles. 

How to do it:

  1. Jump and hang on a pull-up bar with an overhand grip 
  2. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your arms fully extended
  3. Hang for as long as you can 

Why:

While bar hangs may seem like an overly simple workout, they are beyond effective at burning out your forearm muscles. 

Think about how long you can hang from something without feeling any muscle strain or tension.

Not long, right? Bar hangs train the muscles in your arms through time under tension.

When:

For maximum effort, try completing three sets of holding the bar for as long as you can, focusing on improving the length of each hold in every set.

 

8. Behind-the-Back Cable Curls

Best Forearm Exercises - Behind-the-Back Cable Curls

Great for: 

One of our favorite forearm workouts for mass and improving forearm strength and grip.

How to do it:

  1. Hold the handle of a low pulley with your right hand
  2. Take a few steps away from the machine, then lunge slightly forward with your left foot 
  3. Curl your arm up toward your shoulder 
  4. Pause for one second, then slowly lower your arm back down 
  5. Repeat as desired, then switch sides 

Why:

For maximum development of the forearms, cable curls are a great exercise. They successfully target both forearms and build grip strength effectively. 

When:

Because of the unique movement of this exercise, we recommend starting with a light weight and focusing on rep count until your forearms are stronger. 

Then you can add weight to make this ultimate forearm exercise!

 

7. Farmer’s Walk

Best Forearm Exercises - Farmer's Walk

Great for: 

Increasing muscle mass in forearms and traps, along with a total body workout.  

How to do it:

  1. Squat down slowly and pick up two heavy dumbbells
  2. Grab the dumbbells right in the middle of the handles for the best balance 
  3. Stand tall with your shoulders back and chest strong 
  4. Take quick, small steps in a straight line with your eyes forward and core engaged
  5. Walk until your desired distance is reached or you feel your grip slipping 

Why:

Holding something heavy and walking around surprisingly engages more muscles than you may think. 

Farmer’s walk improves grip strength, increases muscle mass in the forearms and back, all while improving your core stability and balance. 

When:

Convenient enough to be done almost anywhere, the farmer’s walk will get your heart rate up and your arms activated in just a few minutes. 

Try as a warm-up to any strength training workout, or add to any upper body strength training.

 

6. Hammer Curls

Best Forearm Exercises - Hammer Curls

Great for: 

Targeting the wrists and forearms while also building bicep strength. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand with a strong back and your feet hip-width apart
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your wrists turned in, facing each other
  3. Keep your arms close to your sides, elbows under the ribs
  4. Curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, biceps flexing as you move
  5. Lower the dumbbells slowly and repeat

Why:

To build forearm thickness, hammer curls are essential. They are an upper body burner and will be effective whether you’ve been lifting for years or you are just getting started. 

When:

Hammer curls are a low-impact move that can be completed anywhere you have weights, so don’t limit yourself to only doing these at the gym.  

If you’re lifting a moderate amount of weight, aim for 10 to 15 reps per set and scale up as you gain strength.

 

5. Towel Pull-Ups

Best Forearm Exercises - Towel Pull-Ups

Great for: 

Challenging the forearms to pull while activating the back and biceps. 

How to do it:

  1. Wrap a towel around a chin-up bar or weight machine
  2. Hold the towel around its middle with both hands
  3. Perform a slow and intentional pull-up with your chest up and shoulders down
  4. Repeat until you feel your grip slipping

Why:

We all know how difficult pull-ups are, and towel pull-ups create a unique challenge for the forearms. It’s also an easier move to prevent shoulder strain. 

The thicker the towel, the more challenging this exercise will be on your forearms. 

When:

To develop a stronger grip, towel pull-ups are a great addition to any arm day circuit.

Make sure your grip is strong before attempting too many of these, as your forearm muscles will tire quickly because they are isolated.

 

4. Zottman Curls

Best Forearm Exercises - Zottman Curls

Great for: 

Working two muscles at once; the forearms and biceps.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides, facing each other
  2. Palms facing up, curl the bells to your shoulders
  3. Rotate your grip at the top of the movement, so your palms are facing down
  4. When you reach the starting position, rotate your palms up again
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

A strong grip can benefit many other lifting exercises you’re already doing in the gym.

Zottman curls work the biceps and forearms simultaneously, burning out both muscles as you lift and lower.

With the Zottman curl, heavy weight may seem like a better option, but it’s actually the opposite.

We want to focus on total muscle control in this movement, so pick a weight that you know won’t pull you down. 

When:

Zottman curls can be incorporated into any arm or upper body strength workout. Focus on reps and control, not weight.

 

3. Dumbbell Wrist Extensions

Best Forearm Exercises - Dumbbell Wrist Extensions

Great for: 

Working the forearm extensors in an isolated movement.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell with an overhand grip and rest your forearm on your thigh 
  2. Slowly lower your hand toward the floor
  3. Bend your wrist upwards to reverse the motion 
  4. Repeat as desired, then switch hands 

Why:

In a wrist extension, the muscles in your forearm that support wrist movement are activated and forced to work.

Single joint resistance movements like this one are known to increase muscle thickness in the forearms effectively. 

Proper form is important during this movement, as the wrist is a sensitive joint and can become strained if overworked. 

When:

The wrist extension is best incorporated into an upper body workout.

Remember that your forearms are stationary during this movement — the wrists are the only things moving.

 

2. Dumbbell Wrist Flexions

Best Forearm Exercises - Dumbbell Wrist Flexions

Great for: 

Improving grip strength and building stronger wrists.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand 
  2. Kneel and rest your hands on a bench or flat surface with an edge
  3. Hang the dumbbells off the edge of the surface
  4. Rotate your forearms to the tops are resting on the bench, palms facing up
  5. Extend the wrists by moving the dumbbells to the floor
  6. Hold for a second, then contract your forearm muscles to raise the dumbbells back to the starting position
  7. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Because the wrists are a complex area with many joints, nerves, and tendons in play, it’s important to strengthen this part of the arm to avoid injury or overworking the muscles there.

Flexion movements promote mobility and healthy joints in the wrist, which is beneficial for those who work in a physical job or type at a computer all day. 

When:

Add wrist flexions to any forearm or upper body workout for maximum results. The more activated your forearms are, the better the burn will be. 

Make sure you keep your grip consistently tight throughout this movement.

Loosening your hold on the dumbbells while moving your wrists downward can result in muscle strain or injury. 

 

1. EZ-Bar Reverse Wrist Curls

Best Forearm Exercises - EZ-Bar Reverse Wrist Curls

Great for: 

One of the best forearm workouts to build mass, strength, and muscular hypertrophy while increasing flexibility in the wrists.  

How to do it:

  1. Grab an EZ bar with an overhand grip
  2. Place the tops of your forearms on a bench and hang your hands off the edge
  3. Bend your wrists and lower the weight towards the ground
  4. Lower until you feel your forearms stretching
  5. Bring the weight back up using your wrist extensors
  6. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Strengthening the wrist flexors and improving wrist flexibility is the main purpose of this movement and boy, does it work. 

This is a forearm workout you will likely feel for days, so prepare to be sore!

It also tests your grip strength as you grip the bar in a reverse curl because your fingers aren’t likely used to this variation.

Strengthening and improving flexibility in the wrists is an easy way to prevent injury or muscle strain in the forearms. 

When:

If you are just starting to perform this exercise, we recommend using the bar with no weights.

Because reverse curls work the muscles in a different way (extending instead of flexing), the muscles in this motion aren’t nearly as strong as your flexors. 

Complete 2 to 4 sets of 10 reps and add weight to the bar after you feel less resistance.

 

FAQs About Forearm Exercises

It’s important to know the benefits of various forearm exercises.

So, with that in mind, here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about forearm muscles and how you can sculpt and strengthen them. 

 

Q: What does the forearm muscle do?

The muscles of the forearm work to move and flex the elbow, move the wrist, and move the fingers on each hand.

The main function of one particular forearm muscle, the brachioradialis, is flexing the elbow as it runs from arm to wrist.

 

Q: How many forearm exercises should I do?

You can use light weights and train the forearms three times a week, with anywhere from 2 to 4 exercises per workout.

However, you should be more focused on different exercises that hit all parts of the muscle. 

Grip strength is another important emphasis when working the forearms because a stronger grip means you can lift heavier and longer.

 

Q: How do I get veiny forearms?

Prominent veins in the forearms can be achieved by building muscle mass through high-intensity heavy weight lifting. 

You can also focus on weight loss and reducing body fat, as veins typically become more pronounced with less fat in the area.

Weight loss can be achieved through a healthy, well-balanced diet, a solid mixture of cardio and strength training, getting good sleep, and more.

 

Q: Can I train forearms everyday?

It is possible to train the forearms every day, as many people who work manual labor jobs do this without even realizing it. 

If you’re just getting into forearm work, however, don’t jump in and start training daily.

We advise you to work up to daily training by starting with exercises for forearm strength three times a week.

 

Q: What forearm exercise is most effective?

The most effective forearm exercise is the reverse wrist curl using an EZ-bar or barbell

This movement isolates the forearm muscles while promoting flexibility in the wrist, which is essential for daily movements and preventing injury. 

You don’t realize how much you need your wrists functioning properly until they’re injured, so don’t neglect wrist mobility on arm day!

 

Summary 

So, are you ready to train your forearms now?

We’re confident this list is stacked full of great exercise ideas that will get your forearms sculpted and strong.

While it’s not always the most prioritized muscle group, there’s no doubt that forearms need to be trained just like any other muscle in the upper body. 

Whether you’re using dumbbells, an EZ bar, or a classic barbell — your forearms will be burning for days, and you’ll see results in no time.

 Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best forearm exercises:

  1. EZ-Bar Reverse Wrist Curls
  2. Dumbbell Wrist Flexions
  3. Dumbbell Wrist Extensions
  4. Zottman Curls
  5. Towel Pull-Ups
  6. Hammer Curls
  7. Farmer’s Walk
  8. Behind-the-Back Cable Curls
  9. Bar Hangs
  10. Plate Pinches

What’s your favorite forearm exercise? Leave a comment below.

With almost two decades of lifting experience under his belt, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us around bodybuilding and supplementation. Deadlifts and barbell curls are his go-to exercises, and, when he's not writing about health and fitness, you'll find him in the gym busting out some arms! Follow Jacked Gorilla on Instagram: @jackedgorillanews

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