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Gripping strength is a very undervalued ability and something that many people overlook when they are training. Our forearms are hardly a glamorous type of muscle and they’re certainly not one of the groups that people aim for when they’re trying to get a ‘beach body’. However despite this, they are actually highly useful in a number of situations. In martial arts and self-defence forearms and grip strength for instance are particularly important as they allow you to get a good grip on your opponent and to be more effective with locks, take downs and throws. At the same time it can also be useful for a lot of every day tasks whether that’s opening a jam jar to impress the missus or mister, or unscrewing something with a screwdriver. And while it might not be as sexy as having ripped abs, having great forearms allows you to show off your muscle even when dressed. Lastly developing forearm and grip strength is a great way to improve the rest of your training as it helps you to take a firmer grip when holding onto a dumbbell or a barbell, or when doing pull ups (it also further helps you to avoid injury through dropping or letting go)
Here then is how to integrate forearm training into your workouts.
Forearm Specific Exercises
Forearm exercises are anything that involve the wrist pivoting, or your hand squeezing. One of the main exercises that people use to this end then is the wrist curl. This involves simply resting your forearms on a bench or another flat surface with your wrists hanging over the edge. You then take a very light weight and hold it in your hand and ‘curl’ it by moving only your wrist. A variation of this exercise is to do the same with an overhand grip so that your palms are facing the floor when you’re curling the dumbbell. It can also of course be accomplished using a barbell.
For the other side of the equation you should practice gripping and squeezing, and one of the best ways to do this is with a forearm flexor which you can hold in one hand to practice squeezing. If you can’t get your hands on one of those though (literally) then you can do the same with a squeezy stress ball or just a small air ball.
Engaging the Forearms in Other Exercises
What’s good to know though is that your forearms actually get training when you do any exercise – as long as it involves holding a handle or a weight, your forearms are in there getting a workout.
But you can engage the forearms and the gripping power more in the same workouts. One way to do this for instance is to use tougher grips wherever possible. For instance then, instead of doing regular pull ups, buy yourself a piece of rope and drape it over a pull up bar and then hold onto either end while doing the pull ups. This can hurt your hands (it’s good, you’re building calluses) but it will also greatly increase your ability to grip onto something and to take your weight on your forearms. Likewise, equally as effective is to use an ezy bar instead of a regular barbell which puts your arms in a more awkward angle and forces you to use more grip.
Rajkumar Jonnala is a health blogger and likes to write about fitness, bodybuilding and dental implants. As a bodybuilder, he found out that he was always gritting his teeth in the last set and started writing about both subjects.