Those rubbery little balls you spot everywhere from the bargain bin at your favorite department store to the fitness center do more than just help you squeeze out stress at the office. The act of squeezing and releasing, which entails a concentric and then eccentric contraction, shortens and extends the wrist and forearm flexors. In plain English, this means the motion helps tone your forearms and strengthen your grip. Try using the diminutive squeeze ball to get a low-impact forearm exercise you can do just about anywhere.
Sit or stand in a comfortable position whether you're at your desk, in front of the tube or waiting for the train.
Hold the ball in the center of your palm, with your fingers open.
Move all your fingers over the ball and squeeze it as tightly as you can.
Hold the tight squeeze for three to five seconds. Slowly and smoothly release your fingers, returning to the starting position.
Repeat this motion 10 times and then switch hands. Do two sets of 10 reps for each hand to ensure a balanced forearm workout.
Practice this exercise daily or every other day. If your forearm feels stiff or tense, take a day off to let it recover.
- Do your squeeze ball routine while watching TV, reading a book or surfing the Web to maximize your time.
- If you don't have a squeeze ball handy, you could easily use a tennis ball or racquetball. In a pinch, you could even use a tight ball of newspaper.
- Once you're comfortable with a little squeeze ball, upgrade to a bigger ball -- one that fills your entire palm -- for added challenge. You may even increase your reps, sets and squeeze time later on. When you're really experienced, you can squeeze for up to 90 seconds, but be sure to gradually increase your hold time in increments to prevent forearm pain.
- To really work your forearms, add exercises such as dumbbell wrist curls, reverse curls, wrist articulations and cable or lever roller wrist extensions to your upper-body routine.
- Squeeze balls are often used to re-develop forearm strength during rehabilitation or to combat the symptoms of arthritis. Consult your doctor before using a squeeze ball for either of these purposes.
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.