10 Exercises for Massive Forearms
Whether for aesthetic purposes or performance purposes, training your forearms, and thus your grip, should not be ignored. Not only does having strong forearms provide the look that many desire, but it also offers functional benefits for grip that further carries over to overall strength.
With that said, in what follows, we’ll be sharing 10 of the best exercises you can perform to build massive forearms, increase grip strength, and ultimately improve overall upper body strength, both in the gym and in day-to-day life.
So, if you want massive forearms, continue reading because this article is for you!
Best Exercises for Improving Grip Strength
Because forearms are a smaller muscle group, they don’t need as much attention as other major muscle groups like the back, chest, and legs. Nevertheless, they’re not to be ignored.
Additionally, forearms are unique in that they’re often targeted without you even knowing it! Take a cable row, for example. At first glance, your primary aim is to target your upper back and rhomboids. However, upon deep analysis, you’ll learn that you’re also inherently targeting your forearms.
The same goes for movements like bicep curls, pull-ups, cable extensions, and more…
If you’re looking to target the forearms directly, however, there are certainly more specific exercises that you can perform in order to do so. In what follows, we’ll detail some of the most effective forearm exercises.
10 Exercises for Building Massive Forearms:
- Dead Hang 🪂
- Farmer’s Carry 👨🌾
- Hang Boarding 🛹
- Power Fingers 🤘
- Towel Pull-Ups 🧻
- Towel Row 🧻
- Rope Climb 🧵
- Reverse Barbell Curls 🙌
- Grippers ✊
- Plate Pinches 🍽
Dead hangs are an incredibly overlooked exercise that does a tremendous job at targeting the forearms while also training grip strength. Above its primary intentions, dead hangs also target other regions of the upper body, as well!
Withstanding grip strength, dead hangs play a role in helping decompress the spine; an incredible added benefit that most exercises can’t offer…
In order to see lasting results, aim to perform dead hangs several times per week, either as a warmup, cool down, or accessory exercise to a larger workout. All it takes is 3-5 sets of failure while resting in between each set. It’s really that simple (but we didn’t see it’s easy)!
Above all else, challenge yourself. While you may not be able to hold on for a long duration in the beginning, over time and with practice, you’ll be able to increase grip strength, increase forearm strength, and increase the duration of hang you’re able to successfully execute.
If you are unsure what a farmer's carry is, it’s simply the act of holding two weighted objects (typically kettlebells or dumbbells), one in each hand, and walking for a set period of time (i.e. 30-60 seconds), OR for a set distance (i.e. 100-meters).
While it’s a common mistake amongst many who perform it, the intention of the farmer's carry is not speed but rather “time under tension”. In other words, the longer you can hold the weight, the better!
Tip: If you want to add a level of difficulty to the farmer's carry, combine the farmer's carry with the use of fat grips. Your forearms will really be screaming then!
Hang boarding has been popularized in the rock climbing world for its innate ability to challenge one’s grip and improve overall grip strength/forearm strength. While hang boards aren’t typically seen in most commercial gyms, they’re an incredible tool for those eager to build massive forearms.
Hang If you don’t know what a hang board is, it can simply be thought of as a contraption similar to a pull-up bar. However, instead of a bar, it's comprised of little grooves that only your fingers can hold onto. By adding this level of difficulty to a dead hang or pull-up, you inherently increase forearm strength and thus grip strength.
To get into the specifics, hang boards are effective at improving grip strength because it directly targets the small finger-flexor muscles in one’s forearms. No other exercise or piece of equipment can provide this type of environment.
In order to see lasting results, aim to perform hang board exercises several times per week, either as a warmup, cool down, or accessory exercise to a larger workout. All it takes is 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps OR a timed hold similar to that of a dead hang. Choose to progress by adding further difficulty via volume (i.e. sets, reps, or time under tension).
Another popular tool used in the rock-climbing world, PowerFingers is simply a band that wraps around each finger, providing resistance as you spread your fingers in a flexion motion.
Executing this action in a rep-scheme similar to that of a typical bodybuilding accessory exercise (3 sets of 10-12) allows you to not only improve grip strength and finger strength but also forearm strength as well. While this is an uncommon tool and thus an uncommon strategy for forearm strength, it’s a tool that should be considered for those eager to target musculature that’s often ignored.
While generic pull-ups are effective in their own right for improving forearm strength, using a towel for further difficulty and added grip training is an innovative and effective way for improving overall forearm strength.
Simply loop the towel over and around the pull-up bar and engage in a set of pull-ups or even use it as an added level of difficulty to a dead hang. If you don’t have a towel, a rope accessory will suffice just as well.
Similar to that of a towel pull-up, a towel row primarily targets the back musculature while also creating an environment that tests grip strength, thus improving forearm strength. If you don’t have a towel, a cable rope attachment will suffice.
Not only are towel exercises ideal for beginners but they’re also simple, safe, and convenient, while also being effective at increasing overall upper body strength. Heck, you don’t even need a gym! Simply find a stable area to wrap the towel around and get to work.
Rope climbs are a full-body exercise that engages the entirety of the posterior chain and core musculature, while also targeting the back, biceps, and forearms. Because a rope climb requires the performer to carry a load of their body via their grip, the exercise inevitably fatigues the forearms; a tell-tale sign that it’s training its strength and endurance.
So, if you’re looking not only to build massive forearms but get a great cardiovascular workout in the process, give rope climbs a try!
Also referred to as grip crushers, grippers are a handheld grip training tool that allows you to increase grip strength while also providing a wicked forearm pump at the same time! This is largely accomplished by targeting the smaller muscles in the forearm that are responsible for controlling finger function.
Grippers are a small, palm-sized tool with two handles attached to a substantial coil that creates resistance. All you need to do is place the gripper in the palm of your hand and squeeze it tight in repetition.
If you’re wondering where to get your own grippers, be sure to check out Gripzilla, a top-of-the-line grip training tool that’s both affordable and effective.
Reverse Barbell Curls
While standard barbell bicep curls also indirectly target the forearms, by supinating your grip position for a reverse bicep curl, you directly target your forearms while providing a killer pump in the process.
Reverse curls are a great arm exercise in general, and are best implemented as an accessory to a biceps superset. While you might not be able to carry the same load as you would with a standard bicep curl, a reverse curl is arguably the most effective, and certainly the most popular exercise for building massive forearms.
Last but certainly not least, plate pinches are an incredibly effective yet simple to execute exercise for both grip and forearm training. While there are three primary types of grip, pinch grip happens to be one of them. In order to build pinch grip, you must obviously implement pinching exercises much like plate pinches!
As most grip exercises do, plate pinches inherently increase forearm strength by targeting small finger-flexors that attach to the forearm. The end result? A killer forearm pump!
To execute, simply begin with a 5 lb plate and pinch-hold for a prescribed duration, following a rest and repeat. Gradually test your strength by increasing the weight and thickness of the plate until you reach failure.