Exercises With Dumbbells to Build Up the Forearms

Building your forearms with dumbbell exercises can be done at home.
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Developing your forearms doesn't mean you have to spend hours at the gym working on complicated fitness machines. Forget the gym -- you can do this right at home. All you need is a pair of lightweight dumbbells and a regular workout routine with forearm-specific exercises. Working your muscles against the resistance of the dumbbells will strengthen, build and tone your arms. For an effective forearm-building regimen, Mayo Clinic recommends a 20- or 30-minute session, two or three days per week with a day of rest between workouts.

Know Your Muscles

    To build your forearms, you'll need to work several groups of muscles -- wrist extensors, wrist flexors, supinators, pronators and brachioradialis. Hold one of your arms straight out in front of your body and bend your wrist back so your palm faces forward, as if you’re signaling someone to "stop." You just used a group of eight extensor muscles. From your "stop" signal position, bend your wrist and pull your palm toward the underneath side of your forearm. You've now just used a group of six flexor muscles. Straighten your wrist so you palm faces the floor and rotate your forearm so your palm faces up -- the supinator muscles are used for this movement. Rotating your forearm from a palms-up to a palms-down position uses the pronators. Along the side of your forearm is the brachioradialis muscle which is used to bring your forearm back to neutral from supination or pronation.


    Start your workout with reverse wrist curls to build and develop your wrist extensors. Simply grab your dumbbells, sit in a sturdy chair and rest your forearms on top of your thighs. With your palms facing the floor, slide your arms forward until your hands extend in front of your knees. Start with your wrists hanging down and then slowly lift the dumbbells up toward the ceiling as far as you can, pause for a count of two, reverse the movement and repeat. If you prefer, you can work one arm at a time.


    Wrist curls can help develop your wrist flexors and are performed in a similar way to reverse wrist curls but with a slight change in technique. Hold your dumbbells, sit in your chair and rest your forearms on your thighs. Instead of holding the weights with your palms down, turn your forearms over so your palms are facing up. To start, allow the weights to extend your wrists and pull your knuckles toward the floor. Slowly raise the dumbbells as high as you can, pause for a count of two, reverse the movement and repeat. You can also do this exercise with just one arm.

Supinators and Pronators

    To develop your supinator and pronator muscles, do wrist flippers. Grab your dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and hold the dumbbells waist high with your elbows close to your sides. Start with your palms facing the floor. Without moving your upper arms, rotate your forearms so your palms face the ceiling. Reverse your movement to the starting position and repeat. While flipping the weights, keep your forearm muscles tight.


    End your session with hammer curls. Grab your dumbbells and stand with your arms by your sides. With your palms facing your thighs, bend your elbows and lift the weights toward your shoulders until your forearms are vertical to the floor. Lower your arms and repeat.

Workout Tips

    The weight of the dumbbells should be appropriate to your strength level. They should be heavy enough so that after 12 to 15 reps your muscles feel fatigued. If you're a beginner, start with one set of 12 reps at a particular weight and gradually increase the weight as you become stronger.

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