Bodybuilding: Advanced Forearm Training

In the world of competitive bodybuilding, the illusion of size often trumps actual size. Bodybuilders will choose to under-develop certain muscle groups in order to make other body parts appear larger. For example, some bodybuilders will avoid abdominal training in order to make the shoulders appear larger and wider. Or, another example is the new pros that have had to reduce their quadriceps training in order to let their genetically challenged calves appear larger.

The forearms are a muscle group whose training is debated among bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders feel that the biceps appear larger when the forearms are small. Some genetically blessed bodybuilders have forearms that grow very rapidly. When they train them directly, their forearms soon overpower the biceps. In cases like this, it might be acceptable to skip forearm training. However, for beginner and intermediate bodybuilders, neglecting forearm training could mean putting oneself at a distinct advantage in compound lifts, due to the forearms being unable to maintain grip on a heavy bar.

The forearms are a muscle group, which receives stimulation all day in almost everything we do. For this reason, high repetitions with moderate weight won’t do a great deal for the forearms, other than deliver a bit more stamina, as it’s a routine they are very used to. The best technique for developing powerful forearms is to employ heavy weights, low reps, and lots of sets. Wrist curls (regular and reverse) are great for training the forearms themselves, and reverse bicep curls, also known as Zottman curls, deliver great stimulation for the biceps-forearm tie-in.

As you move through your heavy back day movements, take note as to what exercises fail, at what points, and what the failed muscle group happens to be. If you notice you cannot complete high-repetition deadlifts with heavy weight because your grip fails, focus simply on grip work. Hold a heavy barbell as long as possible. Repeat.

Powerlifters should always train forearms – there shouldn’t even be a discussion on that issue. The forearm is often the weak area, which gives out before back and legs during dead lifting. Additionally, weak forearms are certainly exposed when bench pressing. The powerlifter has a responsibility to train forearms just as intensely as all other body parts. If they end up overpowering everything else, the entire better. The powerlifter will look better in polo shirts. The goal of powerlifting is to move the most weight, and weak forearms equate to less weight moved.

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