What are the Different Types of Forearm Exercises?

Jessica Reed

Forearm exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles found between the elbow and the wrist. The most popular types include various curls using a dumbbell, curls using a barbell, and hanging exercises using a pull-up bar. Each exercise works different muscles in the forearms to build more muscle, increase strength, and raise endurance levels. Forearm strength is especially important for athletes, bodybuilders, and those involved in sports such as rock climbing, which engage the forearms constantly through climbing and hanging.

Some people use free weights.
Some people use free weights.

To start building up the muscles in the forearms, it is best to work with light weights and stretch before and after each exercise routine. After stretching, the exerciser should use a set of dumbbells that provides slight resistance but not so much that they cause pain or discomfort. The exerciser performs dumbbell wrist curls by laying the arm flat on a bench with the wrist balanced on the edge and the dumbbell hanging over. He then flexes the wrist to raise the dumbbell up, moving only the wrist and leaving the arm flat on the bench. After performing several repetitions, he turns his arm over onto the back and repeats the movement in what is known as the reverse dumbbell wrist curl.

Having your forearm in a cast can cause muscles located there to weaken.
Having your forearm in a cast can cause muscles located there to weaken.

Next, the exerciser performs the same routine while seated and holding a barbell. For this set of forearm exercises, he holds the barbell in both hands and raises it by again moving only his wrists. He then turns his hands around and does the reverse barbell curl. Each exercise engages all the forearm muscles for a strong workout despite the limited range of movement.

People exercising their forearms should use weights that provide resistance but don't cause pain.
People exercising their forearms should use weights that provide resistance but don't cause pain.

Finally, the exerciser builds his endurance by performing a set of forearm exercises using a pull-up bar. First, he simply hangs from the bar. His feet should leave the ground and he should hang until he cannot hold on any longer. Hanging from one hand and switching back and forth between hands can help him hold on longer. Rock climbers will especially benefit from this type of forearm exercise because it helps raise the length of time they can hang from a rock while planning their next move.

Finishing up this set of forearm exercises, the exerciser may do some pull-ups to build the muscles needed for climbing and hanging. If he feels too tired after the hanging workout to do pull-ups, he may choose to do the pull-ups first the next time and then perform the hanging exercise. He can choose to perform the forearm exercises in any order as long as he stretches before starting and does a cool down stretch once he's finished.

Pull-ups work the muscles used for climbing and hanging.
Pull-ups work the muscles used for climbing and hanging.

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