Just in case you do not know, forearms are officially in fashion. Not just because they show off your new wrist watch but they’ll support a vice-like grip and help an equally impressive deadlift.
So… if your forearms are not well built, here are tips on making them bigger.
Vary your pull-ups
Research from the Department of Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University shows small variations in technique can train different muscle groups. If you use an underhand grip (supinated) you train the biceps. If you use an overhand grip (pronated) you train the back.
Throw away your gym gloves
Scientists from the Biodynamics Laboratory Department at Ohio State University discovered that gym gloves could be sapping your strength. Whether they’re leather or rubber, research revealed that “grip strength was significantly less in the two gloved conditions than in a barehanded condition”.
Grab a “fat” grip
Whether you knew it or not, the bar you choose to train with will directly impact the size and strength of your forearms. How?
Research published by the National Strength & Conditioning Association Journal found that the forearms – and muscles of the hands – are in a constant state of contraction when lifting with a thicker bar. They noted this was especially true during the eccentric phase (the lowering part of the lift) where a thinner bar allowed an athlete’s muscles associated with grip to “rest”.
Learn the plate pinch
Most conventional forearm guides will recommend endless isolation exercises, from wrist curls to squeezing a tennis ball.
They have their merits, but a personal favourite is the plate pinch. This involves picking up a few 5kg plates with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Pass the plates around your body from right to left. Then do the same in the opposite direction. You either compete in circles around the body or you add more 5kg plates. It’s fun, it’s functional and it fatigues your forearms in a completely different way.
Learn bicep biomechanics
Lastly, putting towel-based support and plate pinching to one side, know that understanding bicep biomechanics could be the single most effective way to train the forearms. Let’s take the age-old curl as an example. According to research from the National Strength and Conditioning Journal performing them with a reverse grip will result in a 66 per cent to 82 per cent reduction in force generated (the weight you can bicep curl with), but it requires “Isometric wrist extension to maintain neutral wrist position.”