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Strengthen Your Grip – How to Build Massive Forearms Top 10 List

build massive forearms like popeye

Developing grip strength is an important part of strength training. Grip strength is necessary for practically every heavy pull; cleans, deadlifts, rows, pull-ups. Not only will strengthening your grip allow you to pull heavier weights, but thicker, stronger forearms will make you look more defined and muscular. Here are some ways you can build massive forearms.

10 Ways to Build Massive Forearms

Build Massive Forearms - Top 10 Forearm building exercises

#1 – Just Keep pulling (without straps or hooks)

The obvious way to increase your forearm strength and size is to make damn sure that you are incorporating enough movements into your workout that require a solid grip – but while not using straps. The average person shouldn’t need straps for their 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.

Keep pulling heavy but lose the straps to build huge forearms

As far as those hooked gloves 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’ll 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 movements to the end of a pulling day and see how your arms feel after that.

(Most people are familiar with the following movements, but the images link to instructions for those who are not and would like guidance.)

Hammer Curl (click image for instructions)

Dumbbell Hammer Curl - Click for instructions

Reverse Curl (click image for instructions)

Dumbbell Barbell Curl - Click for instructions

Wrist Curl (click image for instructions)

Barbell Wrist Curl - Click for instructions

# 3 – Hand Grippers Really Work

Simple yet effective - hand grippers work to build massive forearms

I know that you’ve seen a hand gripper before. Well guess what – hand grippers do 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.

Captains of Crush grippers are the Gold Standard in hand grippers. With grippers offering as little as 60-pounds of resistance to as high as 365-pounds, I believe the Captains offer enough variety to keep you busy for a decade.

#4 – Lift with axles and beams

Forearm strength - the rogue branch and beam

Not a lot to say here… doing compound lifts like presses, rows, and deadlifts with bars like the Rogue Branch and 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 in your garage already that can be used as a makeshift axle; perhaps even an axle.

#5 – Wrist Roller / Curler

Wrist Roller for Forearm development

The wrist roller is a fairly simple device to use with your weight plates for building massive forearms. Simply hold the roller out in front of you with your arms parallel to the ground and wind up the rope; bringing the plate up to the handle. Then under 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. You can also make this work with your kettlebells as well.

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, and you can still add weight as needed.

#6 – Farmers Walks

Farmers Walk Handles from Rogue

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 gigantic 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, Vulcan, Spud Inc, or just about any retailer that sells strongman equipment. You will need 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. Better yet, while trying to fatigue the forearms you’re actually burning a shit load of calories and developing other muscles as well; much like doing farmer’s carries.

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 pick up. I made the mistake of buying one that was a too little ambitious for me. Unless you already consider yourself a super athletic 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. I think of it as horizontal climbing. Any form of rock climbing will give you beefy forearms though.

I try to rock climb once a week at an 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

Hand X Bands from Rogue Fitness

I haven’t personally tried this product, 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. Basically you will feel the burn 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 no reason to buy these over rubber bands.

#10 – Blobs!

Blobs are made from York Legacy dumbbells

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, you will end up with an extra blob and an extra dumbbell. Maybe a buddy wants one too and you can go halfsies?

More Stuff!

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.

Rogue Grip Strength Gear


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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Bill Bryant Sr. August 24, 2014, 6:13 pm

    If you want a lighter blob or don’t want to cut up a good dumbbell you can just use duct tape to make a stack of plates into a usable blob. I have found this works even better if you put a dowel the length of the stack and the diameter of the hole in there to firm up the stack before taping it up.

    • jburgeson August 24, 2014, 6:46 pm

      I guess you mean like a stack of standard 5’s or something like that. Stick a 1″ dowel in there. That’s a pretty good idea.

  • Bill Bryant Sr. August 29, 2014, 8:41 pm

    That is exactly what I meant. Another way to get a quick and easy blob is to grab a kettlebell by the ball instead of the handle.

  • Bob December 25, 2014, 1:58 pm

    None of this is necessary. Your forearms will grow in proportion to the size of the rest of your upper body. If you’re working your major muscle groups up top (chest, back, shoulders) then your arms, including your forearms, will follow. No need to work your forearms separately.

    • jburgeson December 25, 2014, 3:32 pm

      Meh, that’s not even the point. Most people do not isolate the forearms, and that’s fine and perfectly acceptable. However, if someone just happens to want monstrous forearms (much like people want bigger than “proportional” guns), or if someone is having issues with grip come back day (as I used to many years ago), here is a list on some things you can do. There are also a handful of competitions based completely on grip strength. So to say “none of this is necessary” couldn’t be more wrong.

    • AJ April 26, 2017, 4:20 pm

      I have nooooo idea where you came up with that theory. My forearms were an embarrassment in relation to the rest of my build (and that was with an almost 700 lb pull). My forearms and those of all the guys I trained with all had strong forearms, but>>>ABSOLUTELY nada to “show” for it for the very reason they NEVER get enough work w/o being trained separately. Therefore size increase simply was nonexistent. Now, if “YOU” happen to be one of the VERY lucky ones to experience what you just described, then God bless you sir! I am envius indeed! But 99.99% of the people I know/train with have to spend oodles of time (separately) on Traps, calves and forearms to have anything to show for them :(

  • SomeBloke May 28, 2015, 8:06 pm

    Some of us found this page cause we want ridiculously big forearms like popeye. Not to be some muscle bound Grotesque like the rest of ya. Giant forearms only , no legs , no biceps etc.

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