Tip: A Better Way to Build Forearms

Wrist curls stress the tendons and don't work very well. Here's a better option.

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Wrist Curls Aren't Worth It

People have enough problems keeping their elbows healthy without cranking out short range-of-motion wrist extensions and curls on a regular basis. More times than not, the minor muscle-building benefits of direct wrist and forearm flexor and extensor work don't exceed the possible muscular and tendon stress and general waste of training time.

The use of these minor movements with nearly no long-term loading capacity or ability to stimulate localized hypertrophy doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There are far superior methods to build the forearms while getting big and functionally strong in the process.

The musculature of both sides of the forearms that control flexion and extension of the wrists and fingers are anatomically and biomechanically designed to execute two actions:

  1. Fine motor skills with the hands
  2. Isometric force production

When looking at function in this way, adding a dynamic component to these muscular groups doesn't match their primary actions, which makes this type of training counterproductive at best, and injurious at worst.

Instead of cranking out endless reps of direct forearm training that most likely hits the tendons harder than the actual muscles, instead start adding wrist-centric movements into your biceps and triceps work.

Do This Instead: Wrist-Centric Curls & Pushdowns

Adding small but strategic wrist-centric movements into curls and pushdowns can be one hell of a training tool. In order to achieve the highest levels of activation at the forearms, upper arms, and movement patterns in general, use slight flexion and extension during your biceps and triceps work.

In a traditional curl, start your wrists off in slight extension at the bottom range of motion. As your biceps take over the movement to curl the weight up, use a slight flexion at the wrists to finish off the movement at the peak of that contraction.

The same can be done with triceps work. Start off your beginning range of motion with the wrists in flexion, and finish off the triceps extension with a slight extension at the wrists to maximize the contraction.

If you do these small movements correctly, you'll feel an instant increase in activation and contraction quality. But remember, a small range of motion at the wrists goes a long way.