Forearms Like Popeye!
"I y'am what I y'am and tha's all that I y'am." ...
Strong forearms will help you in every area of fitness. Strong forearms mean strong grip strength, and that is the most applicable strength you can gain. Whether you're picking up dumbbells with a flat palm, doing a dead hang with just the tips of your fingers, or just trying to cut down the number of grocery bag trips form car to kitchen. Having strong forearms is going to increase your overall weight-bearing capability.
We talk about core strength a lot on this site. Strong forearms are a lot like strong core, and they pertain to the core itself. When you're lifting weights, most of the time you're focused on a particular muscle group. Core strength allows you to further isolate that muscle group for a better focused session. Imagine doing curls. Someone who can't quite lift the weight, and is less disciplined might be using more of their body to hike the weight up and down. Kind of like humping the bar. You've seen it before...
SEE how he's really hiking the weight up with his whole body? His core front core is relaxed. His lower back is doing all the work here. He's not isolating his bicep at all, and therefor pretty much totally wasting his time.
As it pertains to the forearms, MOST people neglect the muscle in their workout regimens. While they don't always need to be specifically trained, forearms are a lot like calves. Some people just dont get them very easily.
"It's just genetics." No it's not bud.
It has a lot to do with genetics, yes. But it isn't ALL genetics. Hard work beats talent. Dedication beats genetics. That's really the whole idea of Veganism and Natural living as it pertains to human health. Don't say Aunt Sharon died of a hernia so you will too. Adjust! Healthify your life fam!!! But I digress. This article is about forearms :DYou need to become forearm-conscious. There are many ways to do this.
The methods I'm going to go over are as follows:
- Take the burden off your grip.
- Add more burden to your grip.
- Forearm exercises.
The first method involves minimizing the pointless pain often involved in building grip strength. This can tie into the next few methods as well, so keep this in mind.
Your hands go through a lot of shit when weight lifting. Some people will get nice strong callouses. Some people won't. Regardless, your hands are going to hurt. While increasing forearm strength is going to increase grip strength, it's going to hurt your hands in the process..... but it doesn't have to.
Many weight lifters are going to look down on gear like weight lifting straps and weight lifting gloves. There's a misconception that these items are for pussies, and will somehow impede strength acquisition. This is nonsense. I'm here to tell you that these items are going to increase your strength much faster than if you were to train without them.
Simply put, gear is going to take the pain away from your hands and allow you to focus on the task at hand.
Deadlifts, Rows, Dead Hang, Leg Lifts....
Most of the reason you wont be able to continue a set, and will tap out early is because your hands are in pain. What are you waiting for? TAKE THE PAIN AWAY
You can look Into Our Selection of Weightlifting gear HERE
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Dead-lifting straps are good for any exercise that requires pulling things up from the ground. They will take the stress away from your hands and wrists, and put the stress on the muscles you're targeting. This will lead not only to greater muscle acquisition, but they're also keeping you safe from injury.
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Gloves do the same thing, but for any movement. Your wrists will stay isolated, and the hands will be protected. Again, you're fast tracking your way to big gains, but also protecting yourself from injury. Injury to the wrists and hands are the #1 people have to take time out of the gym. While you may be tempted to go hard or move faster with movements, focus on not hurting yourself. Rushing the gains could result in having to take a lot of time off from the gym. That's what's going to REALLY hurt your gains.
Use Gear to take the stress of your hands and bring it back to the muscles. This will put more stress on your forearms, and whatever muscle you're working. Because pretty much every exercise will work forearms in some way, you can use gear to keep the focus on the forearms and away from your hands.
Specific grip strength workouts are going to boost your gripability 10 fold. Our favorites are mostly to do with body weight. These aren't totally specific to forearms, however your forearms and your hands are going to receive the brunt of the struggle.
First: Dead hangs
You can use a bar, Olympic rings, or a thin ledge to do dead hangs.
- Grip an overhead bar/rings/ledge and hang with feet suspended from the floor with arms extended.
- Sustain the dead hang hold for as long as possible without starting to lose form, to strengthen your grip.
- Rest and repeat.
- Aim to hang for at least ten seconds each time. Eventually, try to up the time you hang.
- I would recommend you relax your upper body, without allowing your shoulders to be so relaxed that your arms tear out of you sockets. This will really keep the stress on your grip. If you'd like, you can try leaning forward or backward to emphasis certain muscles. For example: Leaning forward will put more stress on your core and shoulders, where as leaning backward will put more stress on your back muscles.
- The wider you grip, the more stress will be put on your forearms and grip. Widen your grip as you increase the amount of time you hang. Progress!!!
Second: Grip Walk (Like a Crip Walk without the gang affiliation)
This is a variation of the farmers carry. A farmers carry is an exercise in which you pick up heavy weight and walk with it.
Do you see how shes holding the weight like one would hold a dumbbell? Her fingers are curled around the grip, as you would hold any sort of long object in your hand (no that wasn't a dick joke). Our variation is going to be different. You're going to need dumbbells which you can palm the weighted ends.
Like this !!!!
That's it. Just pick some heavy shit up, and walk with it. Make sure to keep your back straight, and your chest up. Your shoulders should be back. Maintain proper posture to really keep the weight on your forearms.
This is way harder than you think. It'll give you a killer forearm workout and really get your grip STRONG if you add it to your regimen.
Finally, we're going to talk about some forearm specific exercises. Remember, forearms are postural muscles. That means that the muscle fibers are slow twitch. They're used to being used extensively on a daily basis. That means they can be worked out everyday. While it is effective to have forearms specific workouts, you can add a few exercises into whatever your workout of the day is, and you will see long term forearm gains!
For example, say you've got 6 exercises lined up for leg day. Add two exercises of forearm onto that days workout. Like Abs, or Calves, it's good to throw these in at the end to make sure you're keeping up with your forearms. They're a very easy muscle to neglect, which is why so many people have issues growing them.
Grab a bar in the deadlift position, hands about shoulder-width apart. Begin to rotate the bar backwards toward you, or forward away from you. Twist with each hand, one after the other. Switch hands once your individual wrist is at a 30 degree angle.
This is going to be killer on your forearms. Do these for time, not reps. You should use a 45 bar when you do these. If you find that you're able to go for more than 1.5 minutes each set, put weight on the bar. These are our #1 Recommendation for getting those forearms like Popeye
Isolation, Young Grasshopper. This is a major key to gains.
Sit on a bench where your knees can be at a 90 Degree angle or higher. Extend your arms so your forearms rest on your knees. You can do this with your knuckles facing up, or down. Do both! The reference in the picture will increase you gains the most, however.
TRY emphasizing the grip on each individual finger when you to this exercise. Gripping with your pinkies will work a different part of your forearm than than if you grip more with your pointer. Switch it up and get the most bang for your time under the weights.
Men's Fitness has a good synopsis of exercises that really work the forearms. You'll notice a trend in all these exercises. You're using a clenched fist grip. This is putting the most pressure on your forearms, and builds the most grip strength. You can translate this knowledge into doing literally any exercise.
Knowing how muscles work, and how to keep the pressure up on specific muscles will fast track your way to serious gains. Keep Yourself Educated!
Keeping up with us is a great way to broaden your fitness knowledge. Be a weight-room sage!