Forearms, shmorearms right? Wrong! Jokes aside, neglecting your forearms whether it is a result of laziness or simply not including it in our programs is a mistake that begins at the beginner level and carries itself through to advanced intermediate trainers (perhaps even a few pro’s but these are few and far between).
The major mistake trainers make is assuming that nobody believes that forearms can ‘Wow’ people, they see it as a muscle group with less ‘glamour potential’ than the other body parts. Some would place their calves higher on the scale of priorities than forearms. This is logic that I do not really understand: If one loves upper body training so much, it follows logically that forearm training would be catered for. Powerful forearms allow you to grip heavy weight and in doing so permit you to complete exercises optimally. I’m sure that most trainers have been in a situation where they were holding a weight, completing an exercise, when their forearms began to burn and eventually causing you to rest. The notion of training forearms flashes through the mind then is discarded in a non-chalant fashion.
In summary, here are the common reasons for neglecting forearm training
- Wrong attitude – If you hold the belief that forearm training is not important; then it is blatantly obvious that you won’t spend time training them. Treat all body parts equally; an impressive physique is a puzzle to put together, one part is not more important than another.
- Neglecting time – Instead of using the last 20 minutes training forearms (Which if done effectively, all you need!), most trainers opt to complete more sets for their primary muscle group being trained that day or even use it to train their abdominals.
- Ineffective methods – As mentioned in my Calf Training article, the calves and forearms are shockingly similar. The forearms are used in ALL upper body movements, which means they are used to being worked at a very high frequency. Even daily, when at home or at work; picking things up, shaking hands, cooking, cleaning, typing, drinking, eating — your forearms are working! You therefore cannot expect them to grow if you train them in a fashion that is similar to these activities.
While difficult to grow, the forearms have an enormous capacity for both growth and glamour. Here are practical tips that can be implemented from your next workout
- Working the flexors and extensors – The forearms are composed of two muscles; the flexors and extensors. Their names betray their functions, but I’ll explain anyway: The flexors are used to flex the forearm, that is when your palm is faced toward the ceiling and is as close to your elbow as possible without bending your arm. The extensors are used to extend the forearm, they are stimulated when your palms face the floor and your knuckles are as close to your elbow as possible without bending your arms.
- Squeeze! – Doing light weights for many reps may feel like you’re getting a good forearm workout; but the truth is that when you’re doing over 15 repetitions for an exercise you are working your endurance muscle fibers(type 1a). Opt for a heavy, but manageable weight; one where you can complete a full range of motion. Once at the top of the movement(where the back side of your hand is parallel to the floor, for flexors. For extensors, the back of your hands should be parallel with your shoulders if seated and the ceiling, if standing.) hold the weight there for 5 seconds before bringing it down, slowly and deliberately, to the starting position.
- Explode up, slow down – Your forearms are powerful muscles. You can utilize this power to move the weight powerfully to the top of the movement and once there; using that same power to slow the weight down on the way back to the starting position.
Having powerful forearms allow your other lifts to increase as it may well be the weak link in your physique and thus may impede your progress if not taken care of correctly.