Targeting the Forearms
People tend to focus predominantly on the biceps and triceps muscles, but if you’re after a complete look you cannot afford to neglect your forearms.
The forearm contains a number of muscles, with the three main groups being the flexors, the extensors and the brachioradialis.
The Forearm (Wrist) Extensors
As their name suggests, the extensors enable the hand to extend backwards. The extensors run the outside (posterior) length of the forearm and are comprised of eight heads:
- Extensor digitorum
- Extensor carpi radialis longus
- Extensor carpi radialis brevis
- Extensor carpi ulnaris
- Extensor carpi indicis
- Extensor digiti minimi
- Extensor pollicis longus
- Extensor pollicis brevis
Recommended Exercise: Seated Barbell Wrist Extension
This exercise targets both the flexors and the extensors, particularly the extensor carpi radialis and ulnaris. The key is to get a good stretch at the bottom as well as a good contraction at the top.
The Forearm (Wrist) Flexors
The flexors run the length of the inner (anterior) length of the forearm. The flexors are comprised of 5 heads:
- Flexor digitorum superficials
- Flexor digitorum profundus
- Flexor carpi radialis
- Flexor carpi ulnaris
- Flexor pollicis longus
NB: Not all of the flexors are highlighted in our diagram, due to their complex positioning (they are layered on top of one another).
Recommended Exercise: Reverse Barbell Curl
Tip: Don’t go in thinking you can lift the same weight you do with an underhand grip. Start with around half the weight you’d usually use.
The upper/outer portion of the forearm is the brachioradialis. It is the thick cord-like muscle that can be seen when the arm is fully straightened, and only has one head (itself).
Recommended Exercise: Reverse-Grip Dumbbell Curl (Thumbless)
To focus on the brachioradialis, practise thumbless reverse-grip dumbbell curls. The thumbless grip forces you to keep the dumbbell close to your torso so that your fingers remain under the bar.
Tip: Doing this exercise at the beginning of your workout is best, because your grip will be at its strongest.