The Only 10 Forearm Exercises You Should Be Doing For Muscle, Strength & Endurance

Written by:

Julien Raby

Last updated:

If you’ve been looking to take your forearms to the next level of training and rock your rolled-up sleeves like no other, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, we’ll cover the only ten forearm exercises you should be doing for muscle, strength & endurance, plus honorable mentions! It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a master of training; you’ll find enormous value in this list. 

Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll learn:

– Forearms Anatomy

– Benefits of Training Forearms 

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– Top Ten Exercises For Strong Forearms 

– Honorable Mentions

– How To Program These Workouts 

After you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to tackle grip training like no other! 

Know Your Forearms: Anatomy & Function

The forearm is the section of the arm that goes from the wrist to the elbow. Two prominent bones form it; radius (laterally) and ulna (medially). It has a posterior and anterior compartment formed by 20 muscles that differ in function (1)

To make it easier to understand, we’ll cover the anterior and posterior compartments separately.

Anterior Compartment

The anterior compartment it’s also called the flexor compartment. It is located on the palm side of the forearm and contains all the muscles responsible for flexing the wrist and fingers. Here we’ll find two more subcategories (superficial and deep layers) with different sets of muscles on each (2):

Superficial Layer

– Pronator Teres 

– Flexor carpi radialis longus

– Palmaris longus

– Flexor carpi ulnaris 

– Flexor digitorum superficialis

They all originate from the epicondyle of the humerus and are responsible for flexing the wrist and fingers individually (3)

Deep Layer

– Pronator Quadratus

– Flexor Digitorum Profundus

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Based on our testing, this is the best creatine for most people. It has the perfect dosage of creatine monohydrate per serving, which has been proven to increase muscle mass.

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  • Free from artificial colors
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– Flexor pollicis longus 

These muscles are in charge of pronating the forearm and aiding in finger flexion (3).

Posterior Compartment

The posterior compartment it’s called the extensor group. Located on the opposite side of the flexor group, it’s formed by twelve of the twenty muscles of the forearm. It’s also subdivided into a superficial and deep layer.

Superficial Layer

– Brachioradialis

– Extensor carpi radialis brevis

– Extensor carpi radialis longus

– Extensor carpi ulnaris

– Extensor digitorum

– Extensor digiti minimi

– Anconeus

The superficial layer group mainly extends the wrist (knuckles up) and fingers (2).

Deep Layer

– Abductor pollicis longus

– Extensor pollicis longus

– Extensor pollicis brevis

– Extensor indicis

– Supinator

These muscles are in charge of separating and bringing together the fingers, as well as supinating the forearm (4)

Almost all twenty forearm muscles are trained through forearm and grip strengthening exercises like those in our list.

Benefits Of Strong Forearms

There are zero downsides to having solid forearms. Growing a pair of rock-solid forearms is vastly underrated by many individuals. The benefits extend beyond what people may think. 

Stronger Grip 

The stronger your grip, the more stability you’ll have performing pulling and pushing movements such as deadlifts, pull-ups, rows, bench presses, etc. It’s prevalent for people to miss lifts due to a weak grip. Don’t be one of them! 

Quality Of Life

Grip strength has been linked with all-cause and disease-specific mortality, future function, bone mineral density, fractures, cognition and depression, and problems associated with hospitalization (5)

Source: InsideHook

The current evidence shows that the healthier and stronger your forearms are, the better quality of life you should expect to have. There are, of course, multiple factors surrounding this, but it is undoubtedly a strong predictor.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Few things will get the attention of the people around you as having significant and muscular forearms. Rolled-up sleeves hit differently when your forearms are blasting through them. 

Top 10 Forearms Exercises

We have compiled the top ten forearm exercises designed to take your grip strength and forearm muscles to the moon. These exercises are not necessarily ranked in order of effectiveness, so feel free to mix them up in whatever form you like! 

Dumbbell Wrist Flexion

The dumbbell wrist flexion is one of the most performed exercises for building massive forearms. It’s simple and highly effective. You can do this movement with a pair of dumbbells or even a barbell. 

You only need a bench or somewhere to sit comfortably. Grab a pair of dumbbells (one for each hand), and place your forearms flat over your legs while leaving the wrists hanging to create space for movement.

Your palms should be facing while holding the dumbbells with an overhand grip. Bend the wrists down as much as possible, then proceed to flex your wrists up to complete one rep. Make sure to control the movement and go slowly.

Dumbbell Wrist Extension

The dumbbell wrist extension is another common exercise for stronger forearms. Regarding movement pattern, it is precisely the opposite of wrist flexion. However, everything else is the same, including the setup. 

For this exercise, your palms will be facing down, and with an overhand grip on the dumbbells, proceed to extend the wrists up and lowering down with control. Some people might find this variation slightly more complicated than wrist flexion, which is normal. 

The wrist flexors tend to be stronger than the wrist extensor muscles.

Behind The Back Cable Wrist Flexion

Another excellent exercise for building forearm strength is the behind-the-back cable wrist flexion. For this movement, you need a cable machine or cable pulley. Attach a straight bar to the cable and bring it down.

The starting position will have your back against the machine. Hold the bar with an overhand grip and stand up. Once you have a tight grip on the bar, flex the wrists (bringing the bar up) and control the downward phase.

This variation creates a terrific forearm engagement because it isolates the wrist flexors nicely, and you can control heavier loads better.

Dumbbell Reverse Curl

There’s only a complete list with the dumbbell reverse curl. Contrary to the popular dumbbell curl (palms up), this variation will have your palms down with an overhand grip on the dumbbells. 

The main movement here happens with elbow flexion. The wrist won’t experience any flexion or extension, and the forearm muscle recruitment comes from holding the palms down while flexing the elbow (bringing the dumbbells up)

Source: Mission Jacked

We recommend starting this movement with light dumbbells until you get used to the movement pattern. When first trying this movement, some people may need more mobility (pronation) to execute the movement at its finest. For that reason, aim low and progressively go up in weight.

Zottman Curl

The Zottman curl is one of the favorite exercises for forearm development. Not only it’ll catapult your forearm size, but it’ll also increase your pronation and supination ability. 

This exercise will have both hands holding a pair of dumbbells. Curl the dumbbells by flexing the elbows and keeping your palms up (supinated grip). When you hit the top, pause and turn the palms down (pronated grip) and lower the dumbbells slowly. 

Zottman curls are favorites in training for baseball, tennis, and American football. The reason is that these sports involve throwing mechanics that rely heavily on the forearm’s ability to pronate and supinate.

Hammer Curl

No forearm development list is complete without the hammer curl. This exercise is like any dumbbell bicep curl but differs in how the weight is held. The hammer curl uses a neutral grip (palms facing each other) throughout the entire range of motion. 

The neutral grip will primarily target the brachioradialis. This muscle is mainly responsible for flexing the forearm at the elbow joint and plays a significant role in giving you the huge forearms you’re looking for.

The hammer curl is one of the exercises where using heavy dumbbells is encouraged, and that’s because the neutral position allows for the recruitment of other muscles to help the biceps brachii in the elbow flexion.

Farmer’s Carry

The farmer’s carry has been fundamental for developing a solid posture and grip strength. It’s a practical and straightforward movement that anyone can do independent of their fitness level. 

You can try this movement with a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells. Pick a challenging weight, be bold, and increase it. Hold the dumbbells on each hand and keep it to the side of your thighs. 

Pinch your shoulder blades together and stick your chest out. Start walking slowly while looking straight ahead. Minimize the contact between the weights and your body. After a few steps, your grip will be crying out loud, as will your traps and core.

Towel Pull-Ups

Towel pull-ups are among the most underrated exercises for developing a strong grip. You’d be surprised by the difficulty of raising your body with no more than your grip strength. 

To perform this movement, wrap a towel around a pull-up bar (without twisting it) and hold each extreme with one hand. Make sure to tighten your grip as hard as possible and pull your body up as a regular pull-up.

The thicker the towel, the better. A thin one would be too difficult to grip and might hurt your hands and defeat the purpose. 

Dead Hangs

Dead hangs are a staple for stretching the lats, shoulders, and pecs. However, another excellent use is to strengthen the grip. Holding your body weight with no more than your hands is a powerful test that most won’t pass. 

Source: Ask Men

Look for a bar slightly beyond reach, jump slightly, and hold it with both hands using an overhand grip. The goal is to keep the body still and focus on maintaining your position for blocks of 20-60s, depending on your grip strength level and body weight. 

If you want to make the movement more challenging, place a pair of “fat grips” around the bar and grip it as your normally would. This will increase the diameter of the bar and push your forearms to work harder to maintain the grip.

Plate Pinch

The plate pinch is another underrated exercise to strengthen the grip. This movement has the peculiarity of targeting the muscles of your fingers and thumb. Compared to other grip exercises focusing on the whole hand and forearm, this is an excellent addition to your training. 

Start with a 10-pound plate. Pinch the plates with each hand and hold them for the prescribed time. To add difficulty, you can walk while pinching the plates. Using a heavy weight is not necessarily advised for most people, but if you can handle it, go for it. 

Honorable Mentions

You have a ten-exercise list to take your forearm gains to the moon. However, we know that not every exercise can make it to this exclusive list, so we’re giving you two more movements as honorable mentions. 

Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Carry

The bottoms-up kettlebell carry is an exercise for your forearms, grip strength, and shoulder stability. 

This exercise will have you holding a kettlebell upside (bottoms up) with a fixed 90-degree elbow and shoulder angle. The bottoms-up position will face the challenge of keeping the kettlebell from falling to the sides; to avoid this, you must grip the handle as hard as possible. 

This mechanism is the one responsible for all your grip and forearm growth. We recommend choosing a light and manageable weight to start, and as you gain more strength, experiment with heavier loads.

Wrist Roller

The wrist roller is one of the few pieces of equipment designed exclusively for grip-intensive exercises. This is a small straight bar with a cable or cord attached to a plate holder. 

The movement consists of rolling up the cable attached to the bar with the desired weight while holding your arms in front of the body. This is practical equipment that requires almost no explanation. Depending on the model, it may have slight differences, but the core remains the same. 

How To Program Forearm Workouts

The forearms are an essential body part that precedes many pulling and pushing movements, so it’s recommended to target their training at the end of every session instead of doing them at the beginning since it could hinder your performance.

Depending on your fitness level and experience, you could train your forearms two to five days a week using different loads, combining light and heavy weights.

For example, if you’re doing a heavy day pulling with movements such as deadlifts, barbell rows, and pull-ups. You could also include at the end a heavy day of forearm workouts. In contrast, keep the forearm training light on days when you’re doing pushing movements (lesser forearm recruitment).

Source: Health Hunt

That way, you can keep the high-intensity training and low-intensity days together. Remember, you don’t have to train your forearms daily, especially at the beginning of your fitness journey. Take some time to ease the grip training into your regular workout routine and take it from there.


How Can I Make My Forearms Bigger?

The most effective way of making your forearms bigger is training them consistently and progressively. Aim to work them thrice weekly, high and low volume paired with high and low intensities. Combine isometrics with wrist flexion and extension. Be patient, dial in your nutrition, and they’ll get bigger quickly.

Can You Do Forearms Every day?

Yes, you can. However, as with any muscle, you should be smart about the weight and intensity you train them. Not every session has to be to muscle failure. Choose days where you train them with high volume-high intensity and other days where you keep the volume and intensity down. 

Do Forearms Build Fast?

Yes, forearms do build fast. Given that your nutrition and rest are on point, it’s only a matter of how hard and smart you’re training them. Choose the best exercises for you and do them regularly with the proper load and intensity. You’ll notice the difference in a matter of weeks.

About Julien Raby

My name is Julien Raby and I’m one of the owner of BoxLife. Here’s my background on LinkedIn if you want more info. I’ve been active pretty much my whole life and I discovered Crossfit about 7 years ago. I want to help you improve your Crossfit performances by giving tips on specific movements, workouts and equipment. You have a question? Get in touch!