Forearm muscles are involved in almost every single upper body exercise and certain lower body exercises as well.
Although our forearms are trained during upper body workouts, especially on arms day, but separately training them is critical in order to get fully developed and more muscular forearms.
So, In this article, I’m going to give you the thirteen best forearm exercises that you can perform with dumbbells, barbells, machines, and at home without any equipment to enhance your arms’ attractiveness.
Forearm Muscles Anatomy
Before we dive into the exercises, let’s have a look at the muscle groups of the forearms.
Starting on the outside of the forearm, we have a group of extensor muscles that help extend our hands outward and side-to-side, and they’re also highly involved in moving our fingers in all different directions.
On the inside of the forearm, we find the flexors muscles, which are primarily responsible for curling our hands and the fingers inward.
Finally, we have one of the larger muscles of the forearm, the brachioradialis, which is more involved in flexing the elbow and moving the entire forearm.
Why It is Important to Train Forearms
The forearm consists of multiple muscle groups that cross through our hands, wrist, elbows, and fingers.
Strengthening forearms is crucial in order to improve our grip strength which is directly related to enhancing our athletic activity and everyday work.
And also, as I said before, the forearms involve almost every upper body and several lower body exercises, so training them will help us perform heavy gym workouts efficiently.
So, building forearms will not only help us develop important functions like our grip strength, but your forearm also grows in size, which will help your arms look bigger and fuller.
The 13 Best Forearm Exercises
Here’re the best forearm exercises you can perform with dumbbells and barbells.
1. Kneeling Wrist Curl
Let’s start with one of the most effective isolation exercises to work on our inner forearm, the kneeling barbell wrist curl.
- To begin, grab a barbell with your hands at about shoulder-width apart and palms facing up.
- Then place your knees on the ground and position your forearms towards the end of the bench so that your wrists hanging off the edge.
- Your shoulder should be low enough so that your elbows can stay planted on the bench.
- Then, extend the wrists to lower the weights down and stretch the inside of your forearms.
- And then curl the wrists back to bring the bar back up and squeeze your forearm. Repeat.
Targets: Inner forearms
1. Dumbbells wrist curl: You can do the same movement with dumbbells which can be more useful for those who feel a lot of pressure in your wrist when doing it with a straight barbell.
2. Upright wrist curl: Grab a barbell behind your back and your palms facing the barbell. Curl your wrist up and squeeze your forearms at the top and then lower back down. Repeat.
2. Reverse Wrist Curl
Here’s the one for outer forearms. You will notice that the inner part of the forearm gets plenty of tension just by doing exercises like pull-ups and especially during all the biceps curl movements.
But, the part of the forearm that doesn’t get as much tension is the back part or the outside of the forearm. And one of the simple and effective ways to do that is by switching your grip to reverse.
- Grab a barbell with your hands at about shoulder-width apart and your palms facing down towards the floor.
- Then just like kneeling wrist curl, place your knees on the ground and position your forearms towards the end of the bench so that your wrists hanging off the edge.
- Your shoulder should be low enough so that your elbows are able to stay planted on the bench.
- Then, extend the wrists to lower the weights down and stretch the outside of your forearms.
- And then curl the wrists back to bring the bar back up and squeeze your outer forearms. Repeat.
Targets: Outer forearms
1. Dumbbell reverse wrist curl: Just like barbell reverse curl, do the same movement with dumbbells. It can be more helpful for those who find this move difficult with a barbell and easy for the wrists as well.
2. Wrist roller: Unwind the rope so it’s hanging straight down, then attach a weight to the bottom of the wrist roller. Then keeping your arms locked at your side and elbows at a 90-degree angle, curl one wrist at a time switching from side to side to slowly wrap the rope around the bar and raise the weight up to your hands. Then slowly unwind the rope the same way that you wounded up.
3. Reverse Barbell Curl
Now it’s time to hit one of the larger muscles of our forearm, the brachioradialis, and the best way to smash it is barbell reverse curl.
- To begin, grab an EZ or straight bar with an overhand grip at your shoulder-width apart. This means your palms should be facing down and knuckles facing up.
- Keeping your elbows at your sides, curl the weight up towards your shoulders and slowly lower back down before repeating for reps.
- Make sure you’re contracting your forearms while curling the bar up.
Targets: Brachioradialis and biceps brachialis.
1. Hammer curl: To begin, grab two dumbbells and hold them on a neutral grip. Then curl one dumbbell up until your forearm is almost vertical, and your thumb will be pointing towards your shoulder. Then, slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and switch to the other side alternating back. Repeat for reps.
The reverse curl can be done in several ways. You can use a regular straight bar, EZ bar, cables, and even you can use an incline bench for an exercise known as spider curl.
But the core concept of these exercises is the SAME. All you need to do is grab the bar with an overhand grip so that your palms facing down and knuckles should be facing up.
4. Supination and Pronation
Here is the one to blast the entire forearm with different angles, the supination and pronation, and we’ll do it dumbbells.
- Start by grabbing two dumbbells (or one dumbbell at a time) with your hands and keep your arms locked at your sides, and elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold the dumbbells in front of you on a neutral grip, which means your thumbs are facing upward.
- Then start rotating your forearms until your palms facing upward, and you get a nice stretch on your forearms.
- As your palms face up, roll back in until your palms face downward to create tension on the forearms. Repeat for reps.
Targets: Entire forearms
Cable supination and pronation: To begin this exercise, attach a double handle rope to the cable. Grab one end of the rope, and take a step forward and your palm facing you. Keeping your elbow slightly out at your side, roll your wrist until your palm face is in the front, and you get a nice contraction on your forearm. Perform your desired reps and then switch to another arm.
5. Farmer’s Walk
The next exercise we have is farmer’s walks, which improve your grip strength and helps you get a more muscular frame and bigger traps.
- Place a pair of heavy dumbbells at your sides and pick them up from there.
- Squeezing your shoulder blades together, chest up and hip engaged, start walking.
- Make sure your cadence and step length are steady and consistent while staying straight ahead in the right line without having drifting going on.
Targets: Forearm, traps, and overall frame.
Instead of using dumbbells, you can use a trap bar or kettlebells to perform the same movement without compromising its effectiveness.
Let’s move to the machine exercises to train our forearms.
The first forearm machine exercise we have is a compound movement, and this one will not require any special machine.
All you need here is a pull-up bar that can add an option to your home workouts as well.
- Start by grabbing a pull-up bar with an overhand grip (palms facing forward) slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Pull your body up until your chin goes at the height of the bar.
- As you come up, then slowly lower your body back down to the starting position and repeat for reps.
Targets: Brachioradialis, biceps, and lats.
7. Reverse Cable Curl
Here is a versatile one to train the brachioradialis muscle—the reverse cable curl, which can be done with dumbbells and a barbell as well.
- To begin, set up the pully at the bottom of the cable and attach a bar to it.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip and take a step back to tight the rope.
- Curl your hands towards your shoulders to make a contract on your outer forearms.
- Then slowly lower your hands back down to the starting position and repeat for reps.
Targets: Forearms and biceps.
8. Towel Cable Row
The next exercise we have is towel cable row which is similar to the regular cable row, but here we’ll use a towel to create more tension on the forearms.
- First, you need to attach a tower to the cable rope and grab each end of the towel with your hands and palms facing down.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row by pulling the tower to your rib cage.
- Then slowly stretch your arms in the front back to the starting position and repeat for reps.
- Make sure you’re more focusing on your arms than your back.
Targets: Forearms, biceps, rear delt, and upper back.
9. Dead Hang Burnout
The last machine exercise we have is dead hang — a simple yet effective forearm exercise that creates a CRAZY tension on the forearms.
- All you need to do is jump and grab a pull-up bar that should be high enough so that your feet aren’t touching the ground.
- Stay in that hanging position until you are totally exhausted.
- Make sure you maintain a firm grip throughout this entire hanging position.
Targets: Forearms, shoulders, and back.
At Home or Without Weights
Okay, finally here’re the best forearm exercises you can perform at home without weights.
10. Fingertip Push-ups
The first bodyweight forearm exercise we have is fingertip push-up, which effectively trains forearms at home.
- Position yourself on a regular push-up, then place your fingers on the ground instead of palms.
- Maintain a straight line from the back of your head to heels.
- Keeping your core tight, bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the floor and then push back up to the starting position. Repeat.
- If you find this movement difficult, you can place your knees on the floor to make it easier.
Targets: Forearms, chest, shoulders, and core.
11. Crab Walk
Let’s give our body a unique experience and hit our forearms creatively with this exercise, the crab walk. It’s an impressive exercise to improve your endurance and forearm strength.
- Start by sitting on the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms behind your back placed on the ground with your fingers facing your hips.
- Lift your hips off the floor and tighten your abs and start walk forward from the one end of your room.
- As you walk to the end of the room, then walk back without letting your hips touch the floor.
- Continue to walk for 30-45 seconds for 2-3 sets.
Targets: Arms, shoulders, core, glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
12. Sphinx Push-ups
Here’s another push-up variation to target your forearms and triceps, the sphinx push-up.
- To begin, set yourself up in a push-up position, but here you would place your hands slightly forward than your shoulders.
- Keep your core tight and maintain a straight line from the back of your head to heels.
- Then bent and lowered your elbows until they touch the ground and push back up with your arms. Repeat.
Targets: Forearms, triceps, chest, core, and shoulders.
13. Clip Squeezes or Grippers
You’ll observe that the activation of our fingers dramatically influences our forearms, and it’s because all the tendons and muscle bellies run down through our forearms into our fingers.
So, here we work on that, and the cool thing is you can do it with a collar/gripper.
You’ll find different resistance level grippers on the market so that you can choose according to your strength and make progress over time.
- To do this movement, place a collar/gripper on your hand.
- Take your fingers and move them from a straight position to a flex position.
- Perform this movement sets to failure and then switch to another hand.
Targets: Forearms and grip strength.
Bonus #1 Plate Pinch
Here’s a bonus one for you the plate pinch, which is a great exercise not only for building bigger forearms but strengthening your grip.
- First, take 5 or 10 pounds of two plates and hold the two plates sandwich together in your hand for 45-90 seconds or until you get failure.
- Make sure you pick a weight that you can tolerate for a maximum of 90 seconds. If you’re able to hold the weights more than that, then increase your weight.
Targets: Forearms and grip strength.
Building a Forearm Workout Plan
Okay, now we’ve got some of the best forearm exercises we can perform with or without weights.
But should we perform all these exercises in one session? Of course NOT.
Here’s your perfect forearm workout plan:
- Barbell reverse curl – 2 x 12-15 RM (repetition max)
- Kneeling wrist curl – 2 x 12-15 RM
- Reverse wrist curl – 2 x 12-15 RM
- Farmer’s walk/carry – 45-60 Seconds failure
- Supanation and pronation – 2 x 12-15 RM
- Dead hang burnout – 1 Minute
When you perform this workout plan as suggested, you not only hit the forearms through their full range of motion, but you hit every function of this multi-joint muscle group as well.
Recovery After a Forearm Workout
I think we all know that rest is a crucial aspect of muscle recovery and growth.
And it’s more critical for forearms because we not only use the forearm when doing athletic activity, but we also use it while gripping objects in our daily life.
So, you can use a forearm stretching routine after your workout or on the rest days to properly recover your forearms to reduce soreness and improve muscle growth rate.
Here’s your sample forearm stretching routine:
- Wrist flexion: Curl your fist or fingers down like you’re trying to touch your inner forearm so that you get the tension to your upper forearm. Of course, you’ll do one hand at a time for 20-30 seconds each.
- Wrist extension: Curl your fist or fingers up to get the tension to your inner forearm. Hold that position for 20-30 seconds.
- Side to side: Stretch your wrists toward your thumbs and then toward your pinkies and again hold that position for 20-30 seconds for each side.
Besides stretching, doing self-massage, foam rolling, or using a massage gun will also improve your recovery of forearm muscles.
Okay, we’ve all done to get the massive and attractive forearms.
We should remember that we use forearms in our everyday routine, so we’ll not overdo it because it can heart to recover them properly.
So, training 1-2 times per week is sufficient for beginners, and after 6-9 months, you can add in another session if you wish.