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4 tips and exercoses to build big forearms

Stop droning through endless sets of wrist curls. Try these tricks of the trade and build forearms that would make Popeye jealous.

From a purely cosmetic angle, lagging forearms can kill the overall look of your arms. Sure, there are certain bluffs that can be employed to offset that imbalance like wearing sleeveless shirts and tank tops as often as possible. However, up here in the true north, those with poor forearm development are eventually left with a choice – look like a fool and get hypothermia in December or do something about it.

From a performance angle, both in and out of the weight room, grip and forearm strength can do a lot of good. Whether you’re a domestic worker, or a mixed martial artist, having claws of death puts you one step ahead when carrying loads, grappling with an opponent or performing submission holds. All this being said, here are a few tricks that are sure to make your forearms more impressive in terms of both looks and functionality.

1. Hammer Grip

Using a hammer grip (palms facing each other) when performing your sets of biceps curls and chin-ups can prove effective simply because the neutral palm position allows the brachioradialis – one of your beefiest forearm muscles – to get involved. This lesson is a simple one: ditch the standard curls and wide grip pull-ups, and use a palms facing in (or even reverse) grip where you can. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Bottoms-up exercises
Here's what you need to know...

    Bottoms-up training has incredible benefits. It improves strength, size, athletic performance, mental focus, anaerobic conditioning, posture, and more.
    Hold a kettlebell with the bell up, handle down. The instability requires you to recruit additional muscle fibers and motor units to control the volatile load.
    Kettlebells and Iron Grip plates work best. You can also use bumper plates and hex-style dumbbells for 9 different exercises.

Few exercises obliterate the forearms, hands, and finger muscles to the extent that these do. You'll be required to activate every muscle in the hands and forearms to stabilize an unstable kettlebell or plate. Bottoms-up exercises also teach grip stability and motor control in the fingers, wrists, and hands which pays dividends when it comes to long-term development of the forearms.

3. Start Doing Strongman Stuff

You’re off to a good start with the loaded carries. I’m not saying you have run out and enter a strongman competition with the intention of setting a new meet record. However, depending on your gym, you may have access to some thick ropes to climb or pull, tires to flip, or stones to carry (those are little bit tougher to get a hold of). If so, don’t hesitate to incorporate them into your training as an auxiliary exercise. One strongman workout and you’ll be going home with your hands fixed in a “perma-claw.”

 4. Make it a Challenge

When performing basic movements, don’t limit yourself to typical barbells and dumbbells – change it up! Give your grip and forearms a challenge by forcing them to really clutch something tight. By this point in time, you’ve probably been living under a rock if you haven’t heard of tools like Fat Gripz which are used to increase bar thickness and subsequently train a lifter’s grip strength. You’ll really have to squeeze tight to get a good hold on a fatter bar, which creates a workout within a workout. As my man John Gaglione likes to point out, with a “crushing” grip you’ll create more tension and subsequently have a better connection and more stable set-up.