As the seasons change, and summer gives way to fall, we are faced with the unfortunate reality that sleeveless shirts will be put back in the closet. For a moment of our lives, we may have to wear ordinary t-shirts that don’t display the guns quite as gloriously. In these trying times, how do we make people aware that we do actually lift?
There is a solution to our problem, and it is actually a solution that transfers well to next summer when the sleeves come off again.
Get giant, Popeye looking forearms!
Forearms are often an afterthought for most lifter bros. A lot of the working effort in the gym is focused on the big movers in the arm, the biceps and triceps. Yes, forearms will still get a bit of work with your other lifts, but you can’t realistically expect good development from only using that muscle in a support sense. You do need to use a good bit of grip for heavier rows and deadlifts, but during these lifts there is minimal motion of the wrist, so the forearm muscles are not worked through a full range of motion.
For a more complete development, you need to work them through a full range, like you would for any other muscle group. As you achieve growth you will reap the functional benefits of stronger pulls, but you will get the aesthetic benefits of a heavier, bigger looking arm. And to really develop that thickness, you need to understand the major muscle groups within the forearm and how each muscle group works.
Primarily functions to support flexion of the elbow, with secondary function to support to pronation of the forearm. As such, the most activation will occur with pronation and flexion, such as hammer curls and overhand curls.
Primarily functions to flex and contract at the wrist, with secondary function to support supination of the forearms. As such, it will receive a lot of activation with movements like wrist curls with your palms facing upwards, or facing forward while standing.
Primarily functions to extend the wrist, while also supporting pronation. As such, you can achieve a lot of activation with reverse, overhand wrist curls, with your hands in a pronated position.
While focusing on those three areas with targeted work will spur new growth, you can use other methods with your main lifts to increase the supporting work load that you ask of your forearms. Fat bar (axle bar) work, or Fat Gripz can turn ordinary work into forearm burning madness. The simple act of denying your fingers the ability to close entirely around a bar drastically increase the demands on your forearms to maintain positive control of the weight.
While it is an effective training tool, its important to keep two things in mind:
- Don’t overdo it – The drastic increase in work load can also result in increased exposure to repetitive stress injury.
- Don’t overdo it – It will limit the amount of work you can do on the big compound lifts. Don’t sacrifice those effective work sets that you NEED for the rest of your body. Use it mostly as accessory work.