A ‘jacked’ body also includes large forearms. And you can ‘normally’ train your forearms. Or maybe not completely normal. Six training tips specifically aimed at muscle growth in the forearms.
1. USE DIFFERENT REP RANGES
Train your forearms with both high and low repetitions.
Doing sets with many repetitions (15 to 30) is important because forearm exercises such as the wrist curl only have a small range of motion. Muscles respond to a certain amount or time of stimulus and this is very short for the forearms in the lower rep ranges. In addition, your forearms contain relatively many type 1 muscle fibers (also called slow muscle fibers), because you use them frequently throughout the day. Type 1 muscle fibers require long-term training, for example cardio or strength training sets with many repetitions. You can also do drop sets for extra time under tension.
Nevertheless, also do a few short sets (6-10 repetitions), because this also engages the type 2 muscle fibers (also called fast muscle fibers). This type of muscle tissue is mainly used during strength training with a high absolute intensity or when sprinting.
2. REST BRIEFLY
No, your forearms really don’t have to wait long to fully recover from a set. As soon as you no longer suffer from lactic acid in your forearms, start your next set. According to coach Mike Israetel, just 5 to 10 seconds of rest between sets can be sufficient. If you train alternately (alternating with one arm and the poor arm), you do not need to rest at all.
Applying short rest periods saves you time and therefore ensures that your forearm training takes relatively little extra time, even with a high training volume (see next tip).
3. FEEL FREE TO TRAIN A LOT AND OFTEN
Nevertheless, plan your training volume wisely. Start with 2 sets per week, spread over 2 training days. Slowly increase this to 12 sets per week, or 6 per training. Increase this to 3 training sessions per week of 6 sets (18 sets per week) and eventually 4 x 6 sets per week, or 24 sets per week in total.
Of course, relatively little volume can also suffice, especially if you do a lot of grip work, such as deadlifts. In principle, that is enough to train your forearms for maintenance.
4. TRAIN YOUR FOREARMS FIRST
If you really need to build a lot of muscle in your forearms, train them as the first exercise in a leg training or push training. You will then be completely fresh, without negatively affecting the rest of your exercises. Do not do this during a workout that works your back and biceps.
Of course you can also work on your forearms after your back and biceps, but they will already be so tired that this will be at the expense of your training volume.
5. FEEL FREE TO USE STRAPS
Grip is an important factor in many exercises. Think of the deadlift, row, shoulder press and shrug. When the grip becomes an limiting factor, you can use lifting straps to lift heavier or do more repetitions with a certain weight.
Some coaches will claim that you should do these exercises without straps, because this will help you grow strong and thick forearms. However, this is nonsense: you do rows primarily for your back, so your back should be the limiting factor during the set, not your forearms.
So feel free to use aids such as straps, chalk and versa grips for such compound exercises. There are plenty of other exercises that can specifically train your forearms – see next tip.
6. DO DIFFERENT TYPES OF EXERCISES
In our opinion, a thorough forearm training consists of a mix of dynamic exercises and static exercises, namely:
- squeezing exercises;
- bending and stretching exercises (wrist curls and wrist rolls);
- pronation/supination exercises;
- exercises for the brachioradialis (reverse curls and hammer curls).
You can find an explanation of these exercises in this article.
Finally, we do not want to leave the loaded carries, especially the farmer’s walk, unmentioned. This exercise requires an enormous amount of grip strength in a static manner and is therefore of added value when it comes to forearm training.