Are you a Strongman trainee who just can’t seem to reach your full potential because your grip gives out long before the working muscle? Are you about to start your Strongman training and you want to get off on the right foot?
Whether in Strongman workouts or a traditional strength training routine, forearms are often neglected. Sure, there might be a day dedicated to targeting arms, but we would bet that most people go through a few sets of hammer curls and assume that’s sufficient for the forearms.
Let’s review the benefits of forearm training for Strongman workouts as well as six forearm exercises to improve your performance.
BENEFITS OF FOREARM TRAINING FOR STRONGMAN
Before we jump into the best forearm exercises, let’s discuss why you should be bothering with this muscle group in the first place.
Better Grip Strength: We’ve all been on the pull-up bar, performing a deadlift, or curling a dumbbell when our grip refuses to cooperate. Despite having several more repetitions in the tank, our grip strength has given up long before the working muscle. When you target your forearms, you will notice better grip strength as a result. The hands, wrists, and forearms work as a team to help you perform your best.
Improves Other Exercises: Continuing with the point above, when your grip strengthens, you’ll notice a huge improvement in other exercises. This is especially true for those exercises where you need that muscular endurance in your forearms. Not only will you be able to confidently hold the barbell or dumbbells longer, but you’ll be able to do safely. A strong grip with forearm strength means less of a chance of a bar falling or slipping.
Practical Application: Stronger forearms and a titan-like grip can help with everyday tasks and errands. From opening a jar to carrying those twenty plastic bags from the car to the house, your new and improved grip strength is going to come in handy (pun intended).
Reduces Risk of Injury: Several of the most common exercise pains that you should never ignore involve the wrist, forearm, and elbow. The team that acts as an anchor and makes most exercises possible is also at the highest risk for injury. What’s the best method of prevention? Stretching and strengthening. When you train your grip and forearms, you reduce the risk of strain or injury; an injury that could potentially take you out of the lifting game for weeks or months.
Aesthetic Balance: Finally, one of the best reasons to train your forearms is to look good. Think about it: How many times have you walked into a gym and watched a guy kill his biceps then leave the gym, completely neglecting the lower half of his arm? It’s the same idea with your thighs and calves. You want both to be big. Having a set of Popeye forearms in combination with big biceps and triceps is a guaranteed head-turner.
FOREARM EXERCISES FOR STRONGMAN TRAINING
Convinced that you need to start focusing more on your forearms every week? Here are six forearm exercises that are great for improving your Strongman training.
1. FARMER’S WALK
The classic grip strength and forearm booster, the farmer’s walk is an exercise that all lifters – Strongman, powerlifter, or bodybuilder – should be using. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, or farmer’s carry barbells. If you’ve had a previous injury to your wrist, you should consider wearing wrist wraps.
How to Perform: Stand up tall while holding a dumbbell, kettlebell, or special barbell in each hand. Squeeze the bar, feeling the contraction in your forearms. Walk across the room keeping an upright posture for the prescribed distance – 50 feet is a good starting point.
2. THICK GRIP PULL-UPS
Traditional pull-ups are an excellent way to improve your grip and forearm strength. An even better way? Use Alpha Grips. Attach the Alpha Grips to the pull-up bar and you’ll instantly notice the difference. A thicker bar is going to demand a hell of a lot from your grip and forearms. You might do fewer pull-ups as a result, but you’ll notice your grip and forearm strength skyrocket.
How to Perform: Wrap Alpha Grips around a pull-up bar. With a firm grip established, lift your feet off of the ground. Tighten the core and engage the back before you lift yourself up. Once you have a secure mind-to-muscle connection on the back muscles, pull yourself up so that your chest nears the bar. Hold at the top and slowly lower yourself to the starting position.
3. SUITCASE HOLD (SINGLE SIDE BARBELL HOLD)
This exercise may feel a bit awkward at first since it does more than just require forearm strength; you’ll also be challenging your stability and endurance. Don’t be surprised if you feel this one throughout your core, especially the obliques.
How to Perform: Set up a barbell on a squat rack. Once you’ve loaded the barbell, stand next to it with your left side against the barbell. Reach down and pick up the barbell in the center with the left hand. Stand up tall with an engaged core and hold this position for as long as you can. Repeat on the other side.
4. WRIST ROLLER
This is one exercise we don’t see enough in the gym. Wrist rollers are one of the best exercises to develop forearm strength and wrist mobility. You can build a roller at home with a piece of wood, a screw, and tough rope. If you’d rather not use a Rocky-style workout, no worries. Find a roller in your gym or local fitness store and add it to your workout.
How to Perform: Attach a weight plate to the end of the rope clip. Hold one end of the roller in both hands. Lift your hands to shoulder height. Without lowering or raising your arms from this position, begin to slowly roll your hands from side to side, bringing the weight plate up. Once the weight plate reaches the top where your hands are, slowly lower it. That’s one repetition.
5. ROPE PULLS
This exercise will look really familiar, especially if you’re a fan of the World’s Strongest Man competition every year. You’ll use battle ropes to achieve that same overhand pull that you see during the Strongman truck pull. The result? Insane grip and forearm strength; not to mention the ability to potentially pull your car. (No guarantees though.)
How to Perform: Attach several weight plates to the end of a battle rope. If you have a backyard gym, you may want to consider using a power sled as well so you don’t damage the plates or your lawn. Stand at a distance. Brace yourself by engaging the core and bending slightly at the knees. Taking a hand over hand approach, begin to pull the weights to you. Once they are at your feet, move to the opposite side of the room or yard and begin again.
6. PLATE PINCHES
An Iron Bull Strength favorite, the plate pinch is a true test of raw strength. The chance for a falling weight is quite high with this exercise especially if you take it to failure so we highly recommend setting up a safe lifting space. Make sure there are no other people close by, and set up a few mats on the floor just in case you drop the plates. Start light with the plates and increase the weight each week.
How to Perform: Using a bench, place two equal weight plates together so that there is no gap or uneven space between them. Place a hand on each side of one weight plate. Press your hands together as hard as you can, activating the forearms in the process. Lift the weight plates up to chest level, continuously pressing, and hold them here for as long as you can.
STRONGMAN FOREARM WORKOUT
Perform the following forearm workout at least once per week to see improvements in grip and forearm strength and endurance. You’ll most likely see some size and vascularity gains as well.
- Farmer’s Walk: 3 sets of 50 feet
- Thick Grip Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions
- Suitcase Hold (Single Side Barbell Hold): 2 sets of failure holds (hold as long as you possibly can)
- Wrist Roller: 2 sets of failure holds
- Rope Pulls: 2 sets of 4 to 6 pulls
- Plate Pinches: 3 sets of failure holds
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FOREARM EXERCISE?
Do you use any of these forearm exercises in your own workout program? What benefits have you noticed? Have questions about the forearm exercises for Strongman training mentioned above? Let us know on our Facebook.