In addition to building strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination, martial artists may train to toughen up their bodies. Tougher forearms, hands, shins and torso are better able to take and give strikes with less pain or fewer injuries. Tougher forearms specifically can deliver harder blows and more effective blocks. Speak with your doctor before beginning martial arts or a conditioning program.
Tougher is Better
Martial artists typically experience bruising for the first few months of beginning classes until their arms and legs toughen up. Bruising can still occur later on but are less likely with conditioning and strength training. Exercises that condition the forearms should not change the appearance of your skin, just make you stronger. Tougher forearms result in quicker healing if you are injured. You may even experience benefits for years after training.
Striking drills are a way to toughen up the forearms by hitting objects, often another person's arms. These drills toughen up your forearms and improve mental toughness. An example is the inside forearm block drill. Stand facing a partner with your left foot forward. Your partner also has his left foot forward. Bring your right arm in front of you with your elbow bent. Sweep your arm inward across the center of your body to hit your partner's right arm. Your partner mirrors your movement. You both circle your forearms counterclockwise and straighten your arms in front of your thighs, where you hit the outside of your forearms together. Switch sides.
Isometrics are static exercises that involve contracting your muscles without moving your joints. You may use isometrics on your forearms and other areas of the body. To isolate your forearms, face a partner and place the inside of your right forearm against the inside of her right forearm -- both of your elbows are bent with your forearms about chest high and your fists pointing at the ceiling. Gently push against each other with equal tension so that your arms do not move. Repeat with the left arm.
Flagellation Toughens Your Forearms
Instead of using a partner to toughen your forearms, you can also use objects like sticks, wooden training dummies and boards. Grip a conditioning hammer or a short stick with your right hand and lightly hit the inside, outside, top and bottom of your left forearm. Work from your wrist to your elbow and back down, but do not hit your joints. The impact should not bruise or hurt, but you should feel it. Switch arms. Over time, increase the force.