Do you want to improve your grip strength and get stronger forearms? Whether you are an athlete, weightlifter, or someone who just wants to get a bigger forearm and stronger grip, you should do barbell forearm exercises.
Strong forearms are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also play a crucial role in enhancing your overall strength and grip. It not only helps you lift heavier weights, but it also improves your performance in different sports and activities.
The forearms play a pivotal role in everyday tasks like lifting, carrying, and gripping, making their strength and conditioning vital for overall performance.
In this article, we’ll share with you the following:
- Forearm muscles
- Benefits of strong forearm
- Best barbell forearm exercises
- Valuable tips to maximize your forearm gains.
- Forearm training program
The forearm is a complex area of the upper limb that contains numerous muscles responsible for various movements and functions.
In order to effectively target the forearm, it is essential to understand the forearm muscles.
Let’s delve into the key muscles of the forearm:
- Flexor Digitorum Profundus: This muscle runs along the forearm and is responsible for flexing the fingers.
- Flexor Digitorum Superficialis: Positioned above the flexor digitorum profundus, this muscle flexes the fingers as well.
- Flexor Carpi Radialis: Located on the inner side of the forearm, this muscle flexes and abducts the wrist.
- Palmaris Longus: this muscle aids in wrist flexion and tenses the palmar aponeurosis.
- Extensor Digitorum: Positioned on the back of the forearm, this muscle extends the fingers.
- Extensor Carpi Ulnaris: Located on the outer side of the forearm, this muscle extends and adducts the wrist.
- Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus and Brevis: These muscles extend and abduct the wrist.
Pronator and Supinator Muscles
- Pronator Teres: Positioned on the inner side of the forearm, this muscle pronates the forearm (rotates it to face downward).
- Pronator Quadratus: Located near the wrist, this muscle assists in pronation.
- Supinator: Situated on the outer side of the forearm, this muscle supinates the forearm (rotates it to face upward).
Brachioradialis is one of the muscles that comprise the posterior compartment of the forearm. It is the most superficial muscle of the radial side of the forearm.
10 Barbell Exercises To Make Your Forearms Bigger and Stronger
It’s important to choose exercises that work multiple forearm muscles at the same time to improve forearm training and grip strength.
This approach ensures efficiency, as we aim to avoid spending excessive time exclusively on forearm training.
By focusing on exercises that work the majority of the small muscles in the forearm, we can get the most out of the workout.
1. Barbell Wrist Curl
Barbell wrist curls are an exercise that targets the muscles of the forearm, specifically the wrist flexors. It is a great exercise to help improve grip strength and forearm size and definition
According to the study, a 12-week periodized forearm training program can enhance wrist and forearm strength, as well as bat-end velocity, in baseball players.
How To Do Barbell Wrist Curl
- Grasp the barbell with an underhand grip.
- Rest your forearms on the bench with your palms facing up and the backs of your wrists resting on the bench/Quads.
- Slowly lift the barbell by flexing your wrists, keeping your forearms flat on the bench.
- Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Use a weight that you can comfortably control throughout the entire range of motion.
2. Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl
Barbell Reverse wrist curls are similar to regular wrist curls, but with a reversed hand position. It primarily targets the forearm muscles, particularly the brachioradialis and wrist extensors.
Strong extensor muscles contribute to better grip stability and control. This can be beneficial in activities that require a firm grip, such as weightlifting, racket sports, and manual labor.
Other ways to improve forearm size and strength with a reverse wrist curl are:
- Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curl
- Cable Reverse Wrist Curl
- Single Arm Reverse Wrist Curl
How To Do Reverse Wrist Curl
- Grab a barbell with an overhand grip.
- Lift the barbell up by flexing your wrists and raising your hands towards your forearms.
- Slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position by extending your wrists.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps
- Avoid using momentum to lift the weight and focus on contracting your forearm muscles.
3. Barbell Finger Rolls
The barbell finger roll is another great exercise for your barbell forearm workout. It specifically targets the muscles responsible for finger flexion.
Barbell finger roll is particularly effective for strengthening the fingers and grip strength.
A solid grip and strong fingers are beneficial for activities that require grasping, holding, or manipulating objects, such as weightlifting, rock climbing, and everyday tasks.
How To Do Barbell Finger Rolls
- Sit on a bench or chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
- Hold a barbell with palms facing up.
- Start with the barbell hanging at arm’s length in front of your thighs.
- Lower the barbell as far as possible by extending your fingers, allowing them to roll down your hands.
- Catch the barbell with the final joint in your fingers.
- Curl the barbell up as high as possible by closing your hands, flexing your fingers.
- Exhale as you curl the barbell up and hold the contraction at the top for a moment.
- Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position, extending your fingers and allowing the barbell to roll down your hands.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
4. Barbell Reverse Curl
The pronated grip increases the engagement of the brachioradialis muscles. It requires stabilization of the wrists throughout the exercise.
This helps make your wrists stronger and more flexible. This is helpful for doing things like turning, turning, and controlling things with your hands and wrists.
How To Do Barbell Reverse Curl
- Grab the bar with a shoulder width grip with your hands on top of the bar (pronated grip)
- Curl the bar up to shoulder level by bending your elbows.
- Lower the bar back down to the arms’ extended position.
- Repeat for desired reps.
- Your body should remain fixed. Only your biceps should be used to move the weight.
- The motion should occur at the elbow.
- Ensure that your elbows are kept close to your sides with your knees slightly bent, and your hands gripped tightly to the bar.
5. EZ Bar Reverse Grip Preacher Curl
The reverse preacher curl is a variation of the standard preacher curl targeting your brachialis muscle, which lies deeper than your biceps brachii in the upper arm and brachioradialis lower arm muscles.
The brachialis and brachioradialis muscle help the flexion of the elbows, while the wrist flexors act as stabilizer muscles, undergoing contraction.
How To Do EZ Bar Reverse Grip Preacher Curl
- Setup for the EZ bar reverse grip preacher curl by adjusting the seat height of the preacher bench so that the back of your upper arms rest flat on the pads.
- Grasp the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing down).
- Keeping your arms fixed, and only bending at the elbows, curl the weight until your forearms are at 90 degrees to the floor.
- Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
- Repeat for desired reps.
- Make sure that you perform the movement slowly with controlled repetition timing.
- Do not lock out your elbows at the bottom of the reverse curl, as this can cause a torn bicep and takes tension off the muscle.
- Try to use a lighter to moderate weight.
6. Behind-The-Back Barbell Finger Curls
Behind-the-back barbell finger curls are a variation of finger curls that primarily focus on strengthening the muscles of the fingers and forearms.
Behind your back curl, increases the range of motion and puts more emphasis on finger flexion.
How To Do It
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell behind your back, with your palms facing backward.
- Let your arms naturally hang down, with the barbell behind your hips.
- Keeping your arms still, curl your fingers and squeeze, flexing your fingers as much as you can.
- Hold the contracted position for a moment, then slowly release and extend your fingers to return to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
7. Barbell Drag Curl
This barbell exercise is another great option that will help you to target the biceps and forearm and grow your arms.
If you want to improve your arm size, strength, and appearance, the drag curl is for you.
How To Do Barbell Drag Curl
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your abs are drawn in.
- Grab the barbell with a double underhand (supinated) grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart
- Bring your elbows and shoulders back slightly as you curl the barbell upwards. It should feel like you are “dragging” the barbell up to your body.
- Squeeze your biceps hard at the top and slowly return to the starting position.
- Perform this exercise in a slow, controlled manner for best results.
- Keep your elbow back to keep the stress on your biceps.
- Maintain a slight bend in the elbow at the bottom of the movement to keep tension through the biceps.
8. Overhead Barbell Carry
It involves holding a barbell overhead while walking or moving, which requires a lot of strength, stability, and coordination.
How To Do Overhead Barbell Carries
- Set up a barbell with an appropriate weight on a squat rack or lifting platform.
- Lift the barbell from the rack and press it up high with your arms fully extended.
- Engage your core and maintain a tall posture throughout the exercise.
- Start by walking forward, taking small, controlled steps while keeping the barbell stable overhead.
- Walk for a predetermined distance or time while maintaining proper form and control.
- Maintain a tight core and stable shoulder position.
- Avoid excessive swaying or arching of the back.
- If you’re new to overhead barbell carry or attempting heavier weights, it’s advisable to have a spotter nearby or perform the exercise within a safety rack for added security.
9. Fat Grip Barbell Curl
The Fat Grip Barbell Curl is a variation of the traditional barbell curl exercise, where a thick grip attachment is added to the barbell. This modification increases the diameter of the bar, which will challenge your grip strength and activate additional muscles in your forearms.
How To Do Fat Grip Barbell Curl
- Attach the Fat Grip to a regular barbell. Make sure that it is securely tightened.
- Stand upright with a shoulder-width stance.
- Hold the barbell with an underhand grip (palms facing up) and hands shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your elbows close to your sides and fully extend your arms.
- Exhale, and slowly curl the barbell towards your shoulders.
- Hold for a moment and squeeze your biceps at the top.
- Then slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.
- During the exercise, keep your upper arms stationary to isolate the biceps and forearms.
- The thicker grip will make it more difficult, so focus on maintaining proper form before adding more weight.
10. Barbell Holds
During Barbell holds, you must grip a loaded barbell and hold it for a specified duration without any additional movement.
During the hold, the forearm muscles, including the flexors and extensors, are contracted for a long time, which makes them grow bigger and stronger.
How To Do Fat Barbell Hold
- Select a weight that is suitable for your present level of physical strength.
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
- Grip the barbell with an overhand or mixed grip, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
- Lift the barbell off the rack or from the ground with your arms fully extended.
- Hold the barbell in a static position for the desired duration. Try to hold it for 20-60 seconds.
- Focus on keeping a tight grip and staying engaged throughout the exercise.
- After completing the hold, lower the barbell back to the starting position.
- Pick a weight that’s tough but lets you stay in the position for the length of time you want.
- Make sure your grip is firm and doesn’t slip during the hold.
- Focus on squeezing your forearm muscles throughout the hold.
Sets, Reps and Frequency for forearm Workout
Forearm exercises should be performed at a frequency that is appropriate for each individuals’ fitness level, goals, and recovery ability.
Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines to help you get started.
1. Sets For Forearm
- Beginners: Start with 2-3 sets per exercise.
- Intermediate: Aim for 3-4 sets per exercise.
- Advanced: Perform 4-5 sets per exercise.
2. Repetitions (Reps) For Forearm
- Strength and Power: Focus on lower reps (around 6-8) with heavier weights to challenge the muscles and promote strength gains.
- Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth): Aim for moderate reps (around 8-12) with weights that fatigue the muscles within the desired rep range.
- Endurance: Perform higher reps (around 12-15 or more) with lighter weights to build muscular endurance.
3. Frequency Of Forearm Workout
- Beginners: Start with 1-2 forearm workouts per week, allowing ample recovery time between sessions.
- Intermediate: Aim for 2-3 forearm workouts per week, with at least two days of rest in between.
- Advanced: Perform 3-4 forearm workouts per week, incorporating variety in exercises and intensity levels.
Barbell Forearm Workout Samples plan
1. Beginner Forearm Workout Plan
|Barbell Wrist Curls||10-12||3|
|Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls||10-12||3|
|Barbell Drag Curl||8-10||3|
2. Intermediate Barbell Forearm Workout Plan
|Behind-the-Back Wrist Curls||8-10||4|
|Reverse Barbell Wrist Curls||8-10||4|
|Barbell Reverse Grip Curl||10-12||3|
3. Advanced Forearm Workout Plan
|Barbell Wrist Curls||6-8||5|
|Reverse Barbell Wrist Curls||6-8||5|
|Behind-the-Back Wrist Curls||8-10||4|
|Reverse Grip Preacher Curl||10-12||3|
The Importance Of a Stronger Forearm
1. Enhanced Performance
Strong forearms contribute to improved performance in various activities and sports that involve gripping, lifting, and manipulating objects.
Forearm strength helps in tasks such as weightlifting, rock climbing, golf swings, racket sports, and many others.
2. Injury Prevention
Strong forearms provide stability and support to the wrist and elbow joints, which reduces the risk of strain and stress-related injuries.
A study has also shown that stronger forearms can prevent common injuries like tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and other overuse injuries.
3. Improve Functional Abilities
Your strong forearms improve your ability to handle everyday activities with ease and efficiency.
It is essential to have strong arms for daily functional tasks, including carrying groceries, opening jars, gripping tools, and performing manual labor.
4. Grip Strength
Developing a stronger grip can lead to improvements in other strength exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, and rows. It can also enhance performance in exercises that require holding or manipulating weights.
5. Improved Aesthetics
Having well-developed forearms contributes to a balanced and aesthetic physique. The forearm muscles can be strengthened and toned to make the arms look bigger and more defined.
Barbell forearm exercises are an excellent way to improve your grip strength and wrist stability.
For improved performance, it is important to target the wrist flexor, extensor, pronator, and supinator muscles.
To ensure continued progress, it’s important to continuously challenge yourself. As you get better at the exercises, try increasing the weights, adding new exercises, or changing the intensity or volume of your workouts.
- Mathiowetz, V., et al. (2004). Grip and Pinch Strength: Norms for 6- to 19-Year-Olds. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(2), 97-104.
- Stasinopoulos, D., & Johnson, M. I. (2007). Cyriax Physiotherapy for Tennis Elbow/lateral Epicondylitis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(11), 639-642.
- Mark D Peterson. et al Low Normalized Grip Strength is a Biomarker for Cardiometabolic Disease and Physical Disabilities Among U.S. and Chinese Adults. Multicenter Study J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci2017 Oct 12;72(11):1525-1531. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glx031.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.