If you've ever had a hard time opening a jar or loosening a knob, you may need to strengthen your forearms. A strong grip comes from muscles in your forearms as well as your hands. Your ability to perform many exercises that require you to grip a bar with loaded resistance is largely dependent on the strength of your forearms, so these little muscles are worth targeted exercise. There are a total of 20 muscles in your forearms, and they are generally quick to fatigue. Although you use these muscles in any gripping exercise, the top exercises for the forearms will isolate these muscles to help you achieve maximal intensity.
Reverse Grip Wrist Curls
Hold a straight barbell or EZ curl bar with your palms shoulder-width apart, facing down. Bend your elbows 90 degrees so your forearm is parallel with the floor. Start with your wrists straight and then flex your hands back toward your body. Straighten your wrists to return to the starting position and repeat.
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl
Sit on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Rest your elbows and forearms on your legs and hold a barbell in your hands. Your wrists should be straight and positioned directly over your knees with your palms up. Flex your wrists back as far as they will comfortably go and then curl the weight back up to the starting position.
Dumbbell Wrist Curl
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and kneel in front of a bench. Place your forearms across the bench with your palms facing up. Flex your wrists back, lowering the dumbbells to the floor as far as your wrists can comfortably bend. Roll your wrists up, squeezing your forearms. Don't lift your forearms from the bench at any point during the exercise.
Attach one end of a small rope to a 5- or 10-pound plate, and the other to a cylindrical dowel. The rope may be 1 to 2 feet long. Hold the dowel out in front of you with your palms down and arms parallel with the floor. Begin to roll the dowel toward you to wrap the rope around the plate, raising it from the floor. When the weight has reached the dowel, reverse the direction and roll it back down to the starting position.
Wrist circles are a simple exercise that you can perform at home since they don't require any equipment. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms straight in front of you so they are parallel with the floor. With your hands flat and palms facing down, begin to rotate your wrists in a circular motion, as if you were drawing circles with your hands. This exercise is best done as timed sets; you can hold small dumbbells in your hands to increase the intensity.
Always consult a physician before beginning a new exercise program. If you have questions about proper form for an exercise, ask a fitness professional. To build muscular endurance, perform three to five sets of 12 to 15 reps per exercise. If your goal is to build muscle mass, increase your resistance and complete three to five sets of eight to 12 reps.
- Hand and Forearm Exercises; Patrick Barrett
- The Best Arm Exercises You've Never Heard of; Nick Nilsson
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.