The Science Based Forearm Workout Guide

Forearm workouts are not rocket science. There seem to be a ton of schools of thought on how best to train the forearms. You've got the folks who think you only need heavy deadlifts and chin-ups. You've got the people who suggest heavy grip training. Then there are the bros who suggest direct isolation work.

Turns out, when it comes to a forearm workout at least, the bros have it right.

If you want to have a science based approach to training your forearms, but don't feel like spending an eternity reading research, this is the perfect article for you.

Let's do it.

First, we need to ask what the forearms’ job is.

What do the muscles do? Once we know that, figuring out how to train them is easy.

Now, there are a ton of muscles in the forearms, but they can be grouped into two categories.

Wrist Extensors

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The muscles on the back of the forearm. These muscles extend the wrist.

So we train them by doing weighted wrist extensions. Like this:

Wrist Flexors

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The muscles on the front of the forearm. These muscles flex the wrist.

So we train them by doing weighted wrist flexion. Like this:

The Simple Science Based Forearm Workout

Since the wrist curl and wrist extension involve smaller muscles, we can hit them more often with higher reps.

Something like this:

  • Monday
    • Wrist Curl 3 sets x 15 reps
    • Wrist Extension 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Wednesday
    • Wrist Curl 3 sets x 15 reps
    • Wrist Extension 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Friday
    • Wrist Curl 3 sets x 15 reps
    • Wrist Extension 3 sets x 15 reps

Yeah, but what about farmer’s walks and other grip exercises?

Most grip exercises involve holding a heavy weight for a period of time. Holding a weight would be an isometric contraction for the forearms, since the muscles aren't actually causing joint movement.

We know from a ton of research that dynamic contractions are better for muscle growth (Study 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

So, doing wrist curls and extensions (dynamic movements) would be better for the growth of the forearms.

Of course, if you’re trying to train your grip, then grip training (farmer’s walks, loaded hanging, suitcase deadlift) is your best bet.

Wilfredo Thomas