8 Ways to build great forearms (eliminate chicken limbs)

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug


How to build strong forearm musclesThis is the muscle group I am most passionate about building. I don’t think there are as many chicken-limbed (arms) guys as there are chicken-legged guys, but I do know they exist in numbers.

The forearms and wrists are some of the hardest muscle groups to build muscle on. When I first started working out, it took me months before I started to see any real muscle gain results in my forearms. Unless the rest of your body is well developed or you show your body off often, wearing t-shirts without having strong forearms will lead people to believe that you are part of the (I really do have muscles…can’t you tell) club.

Your grip strength is extremely important and useful in so many ways.  The stronger your grip, the more weight and heavier weight you can lift and the longer you can keep the position. In a good portion of the more heavy pulling exercises, grip strength is the number one limiting factor. Believe it or not, the most effective forearm grip exercises are not the typical wrist curls you will see most guys in the gym do. You do get a real burn from these exercises and you can gain results from doing so. But the real problem with these exercises is that they don’t encourage practical body motions that we perform in our day-to-day lives. (Similar to some machines in the gym)

Below are some alternative techniques you can use to build HULK LIKE looking forearms, while performing movements that will allow your body to respond and  say ‘that movement makes sense… I’ll go with that’.

Bucket Of Sand

Get a bucket, spade and sand, which you can find at a home improvement store.  Fill the bucket with the sand. Then, you want to put your hand down far into the sand where you still have hand movement. Start moving your hand all over and tightening and loosening your fingers, essentially playing with the sand.

A few minutes of this and your will feel all the muscles in your forearm and the small muscles in your hand start to tighten and you will feel the burn.  Alternate hands a few times, doing this about 3 minutes or more per hand.

Tennis Ball

This method is often used by physical therapists and their patients for regaining grip strength after any type of hand, arm or shoulder surgery.  Common sense will tell you that if you are not trying to “regain” strength, you would be adding to the already existing strength you have. This is convenient as well because you can do it while watching TV. (Better than those hand grip things)

Barbell (A fave)

A former body builder I once knew taught me this. Try it… you will feel the burn!

Take your barbell with a moderate weight and set it on the stand just above knee level.  Stand beside the bar and reach down gripping the centre of the bar with one hand and lift the bar then let it go down below the stand and hold this position for as long as you can.  Your resistance is gravity and balancing the bar with one hand.

Weight Walk

Grab a pair of the heaviest dumbbells you can handle in each hand and walk with them until you cannot hold the dumbbells anymore.  You don’t have to limit yourself to dumbbells, you can use any other heavy object (try younger kids… they’ll enjoy the ride) that you can grip with both hands at the same time, say a couple of bags of dog food or something heavier in each hand.  You can also use the EZ curl bars and load them up to the capacity that you can handle.

Thick Bar

This is a common one. You will see most guys in the gym use this to get the grip strength they are looking for.  Using a thicker bar puts a very different kind of stress on the grip and forearms, giving you vast improvement.  There are many types of commercial grips that you can buy to add to your dumbbells even, but to make them thicker, you can wrap them with tape to gain the thickest size for your preference.

Reverse Curls

These are actual reverse barbell curls. This is the exercise that will put your forearms into fatigue mode real quick. Your grip will literally be the only thing keeping the bar from falling to the floor. (I have the power!)

Wrist Straps

I am only including this because this is a huge no-no when you are trying to develop your natural grip strength. As you know, the wrist straps serve as an assistant and this will hinder any progress you might be shooting for. It is okay to use them for the heavier lifts, but if you become dependent on them, you will not gain the grip strength and forearm development that you need.


Just hang? Yes… just hang. Sounds easy, but don’t be fooled by this one. You can really only accomplish this as long as you have a chin-up bar (Stick one at the top of the door).  Grab the bar with your hands evenly apart and just hang there until you can no longer hang. What I mean is not just letting go when your hands get fatigued.  I am talking about hanging there until your fingertips are the only things holding you up and you literally fall off the bar because your hands have locked up with lactic acid. This will also accomplish a great upper body stretch.

All of the above exercises are pretty simple to perform. More importantly they encourage natural motion and will definitely catch a ladies attention when she grabs your arm 🙂

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