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Increasing forearm strength and getting a better grip

Strong forearms and better grip not only helps you hold greater weight for more time, but also allows you to extend your shoulder, bicep, and other upper body workouts.

Most body builders focus a lot on biceps and triceps, but give minimal attention to the forearms and wrists. Building forearm strength is considered as one of the hallmarks of a complete bodybuilder. It not only helps you hold greater weight for more time, but also allows you to extend your shoulder, bicep, and other upper body workouts. The forearms also enhance grip strength, allowing you to sustain heavy loads to take your workout to another level.

If you are not genetically gifted with a strong forearm, then you know it can be a hard to build muscle. It is common to come across body builders with impressive biceps and triceps but weak forearm strength. However, it is not impossible to develop the forearms. With few small tweaks to your existing gym program, you may be able to build massive forearms and impressive grip strength.

Why you need a strong grip?

A strong grip is essential for more than opening pickle jars. Whether you have to lift heavier weights in the gym or do pulling movements such as deadlifts, rows, pull-ups, and chin-ups, you need a solid grip. A weak grip limits your pushing and pulling muscles, restricting your potential to build your core muscles. This means that if you need strong abs then you must have strong grip. When your forearms and grip are strong, you can perform more repetitions per set of an exercise, thus burning more calories, losing more fat, and building more muscle. Strongman competitors including MMA fighters, wrestlers, and grapplers know that their success lies on grip strength. In order to maintain control over their opponents, they need to sustain a strong grip.

Exercises for forearm strength and better grip

Forearms are comprised of several main muscles - the extensors, flexors and brachioradialis. It is best to train each of these with specific exercises. Here are a few exercises that you can add to your existing gym routine and build stronger forearms and grip:

  • Deadlift / Rack pull: It is a weight training exercise in which a loaded barbell is lifted off the ground to the hips, and then lowered back to the ground. The deadlift is a compound movement that works on the grip strength and the lower back. It also trains the gluteus maximus, hamstrings and knee joint. You can add rack pulls to your deadlift routine. Perform rack pulls following the deadlifts or as the first or second exercise of the day on weeks when you aren’t pulling from the floor. You must do rack pulls at higher weight than deadlift weights.
  • Dumbbell rows: Do high rep dumbbell rows without the straps to build stronger forearms. Lean on a dumbbell rack for support and perform as many reps as possible with the heaviest dumbbells at your gym. You can also add dumbbell Hammer Curls and Wrist Curls to your routine for building grip strength.
  • Farmer’s walks: Pick up a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells and walk from one end of the gym to the other until you can no longer hold onto the weights.
  • Hex head tuck curls: Take a pair of lighter hex-headed dumbbells and grasp the head with your elbows at your sides. Now perform a reverse curl and flex the wrist as hard as you can once you reach full elbow flexion at the top of the movement. . This will hit the brachioradialis and will target both the wrist flexor group muscle.