Having strong forearms is an absolute essential for anyone who wants to both project and implement true strength and power.
They’re important for looking strong because, aside from your neck, no muscle group is as frequently on display to others.
And you need them to actually be strong because having a powerful grip and sturdy, resilient hands is absolutely necessary for accomplishing a great multitude of physically demanding tasks.
As the old saying goes: You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Having big “beach muscles” won’t be of much use if you can’t even hold onto what (or who) you’re trying to manhandle.
Most workout enthusiasts understand the importance of forearm and hand strength to at least some degree.
Unfortunately, however, few seem to know how to truly make the most of this all-too-frequently misunderstood muscle group.
Where the Weightlifter gets it Wrong
Perhaps the two most popular (albeit ineffective) forearm exercises in gyms today are the wrist curl and the reverse curl.
Can these exercises get results? Sure, but they won’t get you anywhere near the best results.
This is because, as any kinesiology expert could tell you, the large, powerful muscles of the forearm are not there to flex or bend the wrists, but rather for gripping purposes.
You see, unlike your biceps, triceps and deltoids, your forearms are not immediately adjacent to the joints they operate. No, these muscles exist primarily to move the fingers, not the wrists.
“Then why do so many weightlifters have jacked forearms?,” you might ask.
Well, it all comes down to the fact that they spend a great portion of their workouts gripping heavy things.
Whether tightly squeezing the barbell to crank out some dead lifts, or even picking up heavy plates to put onto the barbell, they have such shredded forearms because they’re constantly using their hands to hold onto heavy objects.
Repeatedly bending and flexing your wrists at awkward (not to mention potentially damaging) angles will bring about no such results.
So, in short: Squeezing something tightly for an extending period of time is what ultimately maximizes your forearm and hand strength.
Not all Grips are Equal…
Always keep in mind: The more you utilize your palms, fingers and thumbs, the better the workout your forearms will get.
While grabbing onto a loaded barbell will certainly yield some impressive forearm strength and size results, the grip used to do so remains lacking.
This is because holding onto a horizontal barbell requires barely any work from your thumbs.
If you want to maximize your hand and forearm strength, you’ll need to involve your palms and all of your digits as much as possible.
Fortunately, this can be accomplished through incorporating just 2 simple yet challenging body weight exercises into your workout routine.
1.) The Towel Hang
Having a vertical apparatus to hang from makes all the difference because your fingers, thumbs and palms are forced to work to their maximum capacity.
All you need is a towel (or two) to drape over a horizontal bar or tree branch and you’re set!
^^Try holding either one of these for even 1 minute and see for yourself how quickly those forearms swell up.
2.) Fingertip Pushups
For optimal results, you will need to train with your fingers not only closed but also open under pressure as well.
While gripping exercises primarily work out the flexor muscles of the forearms, fingertip pushups place all the emphasis upon the extensors, thus providing the perfect balance for a complete forearm workout.
Exercise Progressions for the Forearms
As with most muscle groups, your forearm training will need to be done progressively if you want any real results.
You will need to gradually increase both the amount of time you hang and also the difficulty of grip used to do so.
For example, you might need to just hang from a horizontal bar for the first few workout sessions, adding at least a couple seconds more each time.
As long as your hand and forearm strength continues to progress in this manner, you should be able to hang from the vertical towel in no time.
From there, you might even work up to being able to hang from a towel using just one hand like this guy:
Fingertip Pushup Progressions
With these exercises, you’re best off progressing them the same way you would with standard pushups.
For example, you might start off by doing some reps from a kneeling position (“girly pushups”) in order to work your way up to the standard plank position pushups.
From that point, you can then work towards mastering a fingertips pushup with just one hand like I have:
Conclusion: Calisthenics Wins Again
No form of resistance can give you the forearms you want like your own body weight can.
If you’re looking for a safe, structured and efficient program to follow that will bring your lower arm power into another league entirely, my best recommendation would be Convict Conditioning 2.
All the information I’ve provided you on the subject of hand and forearm development can be attributed to what I learned from this awesome book.
You can check it out here: