From opening a jar to walking your dog, the forearm plays a leading role in your daily life activities: They flex and extend the wrist, bend the elbow and pronate and supinate the arm (turn from palm-up to palm-down). Forearm workouts, when done correctly and with the appropriate frequency, will help you strengthen this essential part of your anatomy.
Forearm workouts should be done at least twice a week to maximize muscle growth.
Amount Per Week
The Australian Government Department of Health recommends adults do strengthening exercises two days per week. One 2016 study published in the journal Sports Medicine showed that doing strength training exercises twice a week for shorter periods of time was more effective than training muscles groups once per week for a longer period of time. The study concluded that muscle groups should be trained at least twice per week to maximize muscle growth.
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As muscles need time to repair after a workout, Better Health Channel suggests resting each muscle group for at least 48 hours. In order to allow the muscles to rest, consider exercising different body parts different days of the week. Part of the week can be allotted to upper body workouts, and another part to lower body training.
Read more: Examples of Resistance Training Exercise
Key Forearm Exercises
There are a number of forearm workouts that can be done both with and without equipment. Options include:
Wrist supination and pronation: The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends holding two dumbbells and kneeling on the floor while resting your elbows on a bench. Hold the dumbbells vertical to the floor with your palms facing each other. Rotate your palms toward the floor, maintaining a neutral (straight) wrist as you do so; this movement is known as pronation. Next, rotate the dumbbells toward the ceiling — again, your wrists should remain neutral. This movement is known as supination, and you should hold this position for a moment, then repeat the workout sequence.
Hammer curls: According to ACE, you should begin a hammer curl by standing with a wide stance, dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Keep this hand position throughout the exercise. Arms should be fully extended, head and neck aligned. Exhale and bend the elbows at the same time until the dumbbells reach shoulder height. Lower the arms back down until elbows are fully extended.
Wrist extensions: ACE advises holding two dumbbells with your elbows positioned on a bench. With your forearms also resting on the bench, grip the dumbbells with your palms facing down and bend the wrists toward the floor. Pull the weights up in the opposite direction, only moving your wrists. Repeat this movement.
Wrist curls: Hold the dumbbell in one hand with the palm facing up, while resting the forearm on the knee. ExRx.net advises letting the dumbbell roll down to the fingers, then lifting it back up, pointing the knuckles upward. Repeat on the opposite side.
Read more: 5 Types of Weight Training
Forearm Workouts for Grip Strength
If you're not working out your forearms for muscular hypertrophy (getting bigger muscles), you might want to work them for better grip strength, with exercises such as:
Rubber band exercise: This exercise can easily be done at a desk during work hours or at home on the sofa, says ACE. With a rubber band around the fingers, practice opening and closing the hands. Do as many reps as you can, rest for 30 seconds, then do two or three more sets.
Finger-tip push-ups: Any push-up variation will help work the forearms. One variation recommended by ACE is the fingertip push up, which requires bridging the hands on the floor so that fingertips are the only points of contact. Complete as many push-ups as you can, rest for 60 to 90 seconds, then do two or three more sets. Doing full push-ups this way is very challenging, so don't be shy about dropping to your knees and doing modified push-ups instead.
- Better Health Channel: "Resistance Training - Health Benefits"
- Australian Government Depeartment of Health: "Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines"
- Springer Nature: "Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- ACE: "Wrist Supination and Pronation"
- ACE: "How to Improve Grip Strength"
- ACE: "Wrist Curl - Extension"
- ACE: "Hammer Curl"
- ExRx.net: "Dumbbell Wrist Curl"