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There are so many tricks geared at overloading the main lifts that an imbalance is created in your forearms. For example, using straps or false grips for back exercises. On the pull up bar, is your thumb wrapped around or on top of the bar? There are many bodybuilders out there will big chests and backs, but tiny forearms.
To me, there is nothing more impressive and intimidating than thick forearms. It’s a sign you’re more than for show. Here are some esoteric tactics that have worked well for my own forearm development.
1. Pinwheel Curls
Sometimes called cross body hammer curls, Pinwheel Curls are just hammer curls that move across your body. Picture yourself doing the MMA pose with your fist. Your best strategy here is to work each arm individually instead of alternating arms for each rep.
So if you’re doing a 12 rep set, do all the reps on your left arm and then move to your right arm. I’m not a fan of alternating arms if your goal is hypertrophy. Pick a weight you can do 8-12 reps for and do 4 sets. I’ll typically use Pinwheels as a superset to another exercise.
2. Forearm Roller
I’m sure most of you have used the forearm roller before. And most of you use it incorrectly. Most lifters hold it out in front of you with straight arms. This isn’t going to do the job.
The correct way to use the forearm roller is to stand on a box or a bench. Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides.
There’s two ways to the weight up. You can either roll your wrists back or forward. Which way you choose determines which part of your forearm you train. Roll the wrist forward for your underbelly or backwards for the brachioradialis(top of your forearm).
I like to alternate sets between rolling backwards and forwards until the forearms say no more. These are great to do as some active rest or supersetted with compound exercises.
3. Sledgehammer Strikes
Sledgehammer Strikes are self explanatory. They double as a conditioning tool and also develop punching power.
Spend time working each arm. Hit a tire or if you don’t have a spare tire, use the dirt ground somewhere. Sledgehammers are cheap, but one.
4. Sled Pull
Not everyone is going to have access to a rope and a sled, but if you do, use sled pulls to work your forearms.
I tend to do an up and down pyramid for these as a workout finisher. After every set add weight until you can’t pull the sled anymore, then work your way back down. This too, doubles as conditioning.
5. Battle Ropes
Battle ropes are good for conditioning and forearm development. There are many ways you can use battle ropes.
Go for tabatas(20sec on, 10sec off x10)
Do every minute on the minute sets.
Go for max time sprints. Work the ropes till failure.
First and foremost, if putting meat on the forearms is the goal, quit using straps and false grips on your pull ups, deadlifts, and rows.
I didn’t get much benefit from rope/towel pull ups, but see if they work for you.
Reverse curls. Try using a thumbs over the bar grip.
Wrist curls. I don’t like to do them. Boring. But if it works for you.
Take these strategies and make yourself some impressive(intimidating) forearms. I like to do one forearm exercise and one neck exercise per workout. If you want to do multiple forearm exercises or have a dedicated workout for it, you can train them as often as you need to. They recover fast. Any rest more than a day is unnecessary.