The forearms are like the upper body equivalent to the calves. Anatomically speaking, your calves are the last noteworthy muscle group that connects you to the ground. Likewise, your forearms are the last meaningful muscle group that connect you to anything being done with your hands.
Just like the calves, many lifters and athletes neglect training their forearms. Those who do hit their forearms regularly often find that they're difficult to build (again, just like the calves).
When it comes to direct forearm training, a fantastic device to use is the trusty wrist roller. A wrist roller allows you to train both wrist flexion and wrist extension. Without a wrist roller, most tend to opt for the movement that's most easy to do and most easy to "feel working" – wrist curls. If implemented correctly, wrist curls will certainly build up the anterior forearms, but who really wants to spend a lot of their training time slouched over, flicking a barbell or dumbbell up and down?
If you're interested in trying something different, something that'll allow you to train the forearms in conjunction with other movements, spend time learning the false grip.
The false grip is a fundamental of gymnastics. It's a grip that's held on a set of still rings or a horizontal bar that gives the athlete outstanding hand connection to what they're holding onto. This allows them to transition between movements done from above and below (the rings or bar), respectively.
To use a false grip, rest your palm on top of a pull-up bar or gymnastic rings. Imagine your palms facing the ground. This differs from a traditional pull-up grip where you'd "latch" to the bar or rings using your fingers, which faces your palms forward. A sound false grip will place your wrist in a fully flexed position. The closer you can get to 90 degrees, the better.
Maintaining this wrist position while hanging is more challenging than it appears. As you hang, your body weight is fighting to pull your wrists out of their flexed position. This makes the wrist flexors work hard to keep positioned in a way that you won't slip off.
The tremendous amount of tension being held through the anterior forearm musculature is what produces hypertrophy and strength. Strengthening your forearms...
- Leads to better pressing and pulling performance.
- Allows for more effective bicep and tricep training.
- May help you finally beat Uncle Ted in your annual arm wrestling match this holiday season.
Start with simply hanging from a bar using the false grip. Once you're able to hold this for a solid 30 seconds, you can begin doing pull-ups and leg raises using the false grip, along with any other exercise that's done hanging from a pull-up bar.