Developing grip strength is an important part of strength training. Grip strength is necessary for practically every heavy pulling lift; cleans, deadlifts, rows, pull-ups. Not only will strengthening your grip allow you to pull heavier weights, but strong forearms will make you look more defined and muscular. Here are some ways you can build massive forearms.
10 Ways to Build Massive Forearms
#1 – Keep pulling (without straps or hooks)
The obvious way to increase your forearm strength is to make sure you’re incorporating enough movements into your workout that require a solid grip – but while not using straps. The average person shouldn’t need straps for the standard pulls like the deadlift, pull-ups, or rows. If you’ve grown accustomed to using straps, the sooner you stop using them and start strengthening your grip the better off you’ll be.
As far as hooks go… don’t even think about it.
# 2 – Isolate the muscles with weights
In order to speed up the process of developing an iron grip you will need to do more than just toss the straps – you will need to start thinking of your forearms a body part that deserves specific attention. Fortunately it’s easy to incorporate a handful of exercises that target the wrist flexors, extensors, and the brachioradialis with the equipment you already have. Add the following three exercises to the end of a pulling day and see how your forearms feel after that.
(Most people are familiar with the following movements, but the images link to instructions for those who are not.)
Hammer Curl (click image for instructions)
Reverse Curl (click image for instructions)
Wrist Curl (click image for instructions)
# 3 – Hand Grippers
Everyone has seen a hand gripper before. Fact is, they work. The key to getting anything out of hand grippers is to increase the resistance just like you would with any other exercise. This is done by buying a set of grippers that have different thicknesses of coils. As you progress and one gripper becomes too easy, you move up to the next one. Grippers are fantastic because they are inexpensive and you can use them anywhere.
#4 – Lift with axles and beams
Not a lot to say here… doing standard lifts like presses, rows, and deadlifts with bars like the Rogue Branch, Rogue Beam, or any axle bar prove to be significantly harder on the forearms than a standard Olympic barbell. Often times you have something lying around the garage already that can be used as a makeshift axle; perhaps even an axle.
#5 – Wrist Roller / Curler
Fairly simple device to use with your weight plates for building massive forearms. You can also make this work with kettlebells as well. You just hold the bar out in front of you with your arms parallel to the floor and wind up the rope; dragging the plate up to the handle. Then with control, unwind it. Rinse and repeat. It’s surprisingly hard and adding weight as you get stronger is no problem since it’s plate loaded.
There are methods to do this exercise without even buying anything. You can hang a rope from the sleeve of an Olympic barbell while it’s on the rack and just spin the sleeve in the same manner. It’s slightly easier this way as you don’t have to support the weight with your delts, but it’s free.
#6 – Farmers Walks
You couldn’t ask for a more tasking workout. Farmers walks aren’t just a forearm workout, but they will definitely improve your grip strength and give you thick forearms. Trotting around with such a massive amount of weight is hard work!
Farmers walk handles can be picked up for not a whole lot of money from Rogue or any weightlifting / powerlifting retailer. You’ll need some form of Olympic plates to use these obviously, but that shouldn’t be a problem for most of you.
#7 – Battle Rope Workouts
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; battle ropes are extremely tough on the forearms and shoulders. Battle ropes are available in varying lengths and thicknesses. See if you can’t find one to try out before you buy one so you can get an idea of what size to get. I made the mistake of buying one that was a too little ambitious for me. Unless you already consider yourself a really strong individual, avoid starting with ropes 2″ or thicker; they are very heavy.
If you’re not familiar with battle ropes, check this out.
#8 – Bouldering
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that can be done without climbing gear. Any form of rock climbing will give you beefy forearms though. I try to rock climb once a week at a local indoor rock wall and it’s done wonders for my forearms and my upper back. Most cities of any size will have a couple indoor rock gyms. Not only will it help your grip to climb for a couple hours, but it’s really fun and it can be done with the whole family!
#9 – Hand X Bands
I haven’t personally tried these, but I did try it with a clump of rubber bands. It works the muscles that open your hand helping to balance out the gripping muscles. In other words, you’ll feel it on the top of your forearms rather than where you usually associate forearm soreness. If these didn’t come in varying resistances like the grip handles I’d see not reason to buy these over rubber bands.
#10 – Blobs!
So blobs… Blobs are one side of a York Legacy 100 pound dumbbell. Take a hacksaw or a torch and cut one side off at the handle. Why?! It’s 50 pounds of bulky, awkward steel that you lift with one hand in repetitions. It’s not as easy as it sounds. To learn more about blobs, check out the guys over at Diesel Crew; they’re all about the super-human grip.
If you are interested in making a blob, Amazon sells the Legacy Dumbbells. Unfortunately for a project that involves one half of a single dumbbell, these are sold in pairs. Maybe a buddy wants one too and you can go halfsies.
Rogue has a huge selection of grip strengthening equipment; too much to have listed it all here. If you’re serious about building those forearms, click on the picture below to see more gear.