How To Build Forearm Muscle Size With Only 3 Exercises

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
June 4th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
30.4K Reads
barbell wrist curls to build forearm muscle size
Are your forearms feeling (and looking) neglected? Learn how to perform these three exercises that will give you massive, powerful forearms.

How could you forget?

How could you have built some impressive arm size – mountainous biceps and horseshoe triceps while neglecting your forearms?

Don’t you want to look like you lift when wearing your long sleeves rolled up? Don’t you want to exude real masculinity by having some big, sinewy forearms to complement the rest of your physique?

Sure many know the importance of calf development – so what calves are to thighs is what forearms are to upper arms.

Let’s look at 3 must-haves when it comes to arming (pun intended) yourself with the right tools to pack on some muscle to those often forgotten appendages.

1. Hammer Curls

Yes, a no-brainer when it comes to arm training, but hammer curls hit forearms just as hard as, if not harder than, other forearm-specific exercises. The brachioradialis and brachialis are the two important players involved with the hammer curl giving you that coveted massive lower arm look.

man performs hammer curl for forearm strength

Start by holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing your body. Now, the movement can be performed one of two ways: You can begin by curling the weight straight up toward your shoulder or curling the weight up toward the direction of your opposite shoulder. Either way, be sure to curl in a controlled manner avoiding swaying and jerking the weight up. Return in the same manner. 3 to 4 sets of 10-15 reps should do the trick.

2. Holds & Carries

This one tends to be a long-lost piece of advice relegated to strongmen with no aspirations of aesthetic development. News flash: larger forearms are stronger forearms. By practicing different holds and carries, you will directly affect your forearm development for the better.

First and foremost, be sure to attempt most, if not all your lifts without wrist straps (you know, those things you wear to help you lift more while saving your grip?) Go for heavy farmer’s walks, barbell and dumbbell shrugs, Romanian deadlifts, and other pulling exercises that have you using a lot of weight. Rows, deadlifts and pull-ups are also good choices to go sans straps.

3. Wrist Curl/Reverse Wrist Curl Combo

Yes, I know, this is actually two moves in one but worth doing for sure. The basic supinated and reverse (pronated) wrist curls directly work not only the forearm flexors and extensors, but also help develop grip strength and endurance in the forearm area. Done in superset fashion, this movement combo is an intense way to finish off those stubborn lower arms!

Sit at the end of a bench grasping a barbell with your forearms resting palms up flat on the end between your legs. Proceed to lower the weight by rolling the bar down your fingers for an intense stretch. Pause and then return the weight by curling the bar back into your palms and curling at the wrist for a contraction. Squeeze at the top before returning for another rep. 3 to 4 supersets will toast those forearms!

wrist curls to build forearm size

Get Bigger Forearms

So, now you have the pieces to the puzzle for bigger forearms, but how do they all fit? If forearm size is a priority, then working them at the end of any and all upper body training days is a must. 5 to 10 sets of one, two or all of the above would be the best approach.

As stated earlier, you will also want to ditch the wrist straps and start feeling the bar in your hands more. Squeeze the bar on bench presses, rows, and shoulder presses. Learn to grip the bar with authority and not rely on straps to help do the lifting for you. You will soon find that as your grip strengthens, so does you entire body.

A strong grip is directly indicative of a strong body. Well-developed forearms aren’t only a vanity-driven endeavor, they are also a true sign of whole-body power and confidence. So, get busy and build some forearms you can be proud of.

Posted on: Mon, 06/08/2015 - 05:00

Thanks Brad.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/04/2015 - 16:57

Hi, I'm here to field any questions you may have...

Posted on: Mon, 06/08/2015 - 06:41

Hi Brad
I have an issue that prevents me from progressing further with my weight training. I cannot go any heavier with any exercise that requires a gripping motion. My forearms become very painful, so much so that i cannot lift or twist/rotate them. Is there something i can do about it, as the constant pain is quite demotivating. Love to hear you thoughts.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:20

Hi Anthony. Honestly, the best bet is to go to your doctor to rule out any serious, underlying problems.

Posted on: Mon, 06/08/2015 - 08:12

I have been struggling with constant tennis elbow for months now, which has effected my grip and my strenght in all of my workouts, i have tried everything from rest, to accupuncture, a thera-band,anti inflammatory cream and nothing seems to be helping, any suggestions.


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/08/2015 - 10:21

Hi Clay. Have you tried visiting a Physical Therapist? Or possible your GP for any further medical attention?