The 25 greatest forearm workouts of all time

These isolation and compound moves build arms that look and perform to their best.

Your forearms aren't getting the respect they deserve. Thicker, fuller forearms not only give you a more aesthetically imposing look, they also increase your strength capacity on exercises like the deadlift.

Your upper body also looks and functions more symmetrically. Put simply: Forearm training belongs in every training plan.

Failure to incorporate targeted forearm exercises can lead to poor grip strength. You may not know it, but grip strength is essential for everyday tasks like carrying heavy groceries and luggage, and helps you excel in sports (think rock climbing, baseball, MMA).

If you want to massage your upper body, combine these 25 forearm exercises into a killer forearm workout and say sayonara to your skinny arms.

There are many curl variations, weighted carries, and even some bodyweight moves (e.g., towel pullups, chinups, crab walks) that will help you gain the coveted size, shape, and strength you are looking for.

Also see: The 30 Best Back Exercises of All Time

t sure how many reps and sets to do? Check out our definitive guide. Word to the wise: don't throw all of these exercises into one session.

Add a few at the end of a strength workout to burn out your arms, or program a handful into your next arm workout to build 3D muscle.

The 25 best forearm exercises of all time

1. Cable curl behind the back

How it goes:

  1. Attach a D-handle to the bottom pulley of a cable machine.
  2. Grasp the handle with your left hand and step forward (away from the machine) until the cable is taut and your arm is pulled slightly behind your body.
  3. Shift your feet so that your right leg is in front.
  4. Rotate the handle, but don't let your elbow point forward.

2. EZ Bar Preacher Curl

How it goes:

  1. Sit on a preacher bench and adjust the height so your armpits touch the top of the bench.
  2. Grasp an EZ Curl bar shoulder-width apart with your arms straight (but allow a slight bend at your elbows).
  3. Curl the bar keeping the backs of your arms against the bench.
  4. Take three seconds to lower the bar back down.

3. Inverted curls

How it goes:

  1. Grip the bar with your hand at any width that is comfortable.
  2. Keep your upper arms at your sides and curve the bar.

4. Wide grip curl

How it goes:

  1. Grasp the bar with hands wider than shoulder width - if using an Olympic bar, your pinky fingers should be on the outside knurl.
  2. perform curls.

5. Towel cable row

How it goes:

  1. Hook a towel to a pulley and stand in front of it.
  2. Prepare to make a row, holding one end of the towel in each hand.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades and row the towel toward your chest.

6. Pull up towel

How it goes:

  1. Hang a towel over a pull-up bar and grasp one end in each hand.
  2. Hang from the towel, then pull yourself up until your chin is over your hands.
  3. If that's too difficult, just hang onto the towel for as long as possible.

7. Towel Row-to-chest

How it goes:

  1. Wrap a towel around the bar of a lat pulldown machine and hold one end of the towel in each hand. Your arms should be outstretched and at eye level.
  2. Place one foot on the machine's seat and pull the bar toward your chest as you would a regular row.

8. Towel kettlebell curl

How it goes:

  1. Thread the towel through the handle of a kettlebell, or wrap two towels around a pair of dumbbells as shown and fold in half.
  2. Hold both ends in one hand (for kettlebell) or both ends in each hand (dumbbells) and curl up, keeping your upper arm still.

9. Farmer's path

How it goes:

  1. Pick up the heaviest dumbbells you can handle and walk with your chest extended, standing upright with your arms at your sides.
  2. Walk 40 to 50 yards - you can walk in a figure eight pattern if you don't have the space.
  3. Stop at the end of the distance and hold the weights for as long as possible.

10. Hammer cheat curl

How it goes:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and cheat the weights like you're working clean, to the top position of a curl.
  2. Use the momentum from your hips to lift the weights.
  3. Slowly lower the weights back down for five counts.

11. Wrist flexion

How it goes:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a bench, box, or chair.
  2. Rest your forearms on your thighs and allow your wrists to bend back over your knees so the weights are hanging down.
  3. Roll the dumbbells up just by bending your wrists.

12. Reverse wrist flexion

How it goes:

  1. Perform the opposite motion of the wrist curl.
  2. Palms face down and straighten your wrists to lift the backs of your hands closer to your forearms.

13. Grip Crush

How it goes:

  1. Sit on a bench, box, or chair with a dumbbell in your left hand.
  2. Extend your arm toward the floor and brace your back against the inside of your left thigh.
  3. Allow your hand to open and roll the dumbbell to your fingertips.
  4. w close your hand and perform a wrist curl, squeezing the weight as hard as you can.
  5. Choose a weight that you can do 8-12 regular bicep curls with.

14. Towel Rolls

How it goes:

  1. Wrap a thick towel around the bar so your hands don't close all the way when you grab it.
  2. Hold the bar in front of your thighs with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  3. Curl the bar without moving your upper arms forward.
  4. Add weight to each set so you need to reduce your reps.

15. Inverted Curls 21

How it goes:

  1. Roll the bar up halfway and hold it for a second.
  2. Lower it back and repeat for six more reps.
  3. Then roll the bar to the middle and, starting there, roll it all the way up for seven reps, using the middle as the "bottom" of each rep.
  4. Finally, perform seven full-range repetitions.

16. Zottman curl

How it goes:

  1. Stand and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your sides.
  2. Keeping your upper arms in place, roll the weights and rotate your palms to expose your biceps in the top position.
  3. Rotate your palms down, then slowly lower the weights, like an inverted curl. This is a repeat.

17. Pull Curl

How it goes:

  1. Perform the exercise as you would a regular dumbbell curl, but stand up straight.
  2. Push your elbows back as you curl so the head of each dumbbell touches the front of your body throughout the repetition.
  3. Keep your palms facing up at all times. It should look like you're pulling the weights up along your torso.

18. Pull-up

How it goes:

  1. Grasp the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and turn your palms toward you.
  2. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.
  3. Complete your repetitions and then come down from the bar.

19. Parallel Bar Hand Walk

How it goes:

  1. Hang from a jungle gym or parallel bars.
  2. Walk your hands to the end of the row and back.

20. Crab Migration

How it goes:

  1. Sit on the floor and bridge your hips so that you look like a tabletop.
  2. Walk forward on your hands and feet as fast as you can.

21. Hanging rod

How it goes:

  1. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a pull-up bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Focus on squeezing the bar as hard as you can while pulling your shoulder blades down, and then hang onto the bar.
  3. Work up to 2 minutes, then continue by changing your grip (neutral, facing you, wrong with thumb on bar, etc.).
  4. You can also do 30- to 60-second one-arm hanging exercises to exhaust your forearms for an extra challenge.

22. Wrist Roll

How it goes:

  1. Grab a wrist roll (we like Rogue) with both hands and stretch your arms straight out in front of you.
  2. Attach a 2- to 5-pound weight plate (or kettlebell) to the bottom of the cable.
  3. Rotate your wrists toward your body with palms facing down and roll the device between your hands to gradually move the weight up until the cord is wrapped around the wrist pulley.
  4. Then slowly lower the plate by reversing the motion.
  5. Make sure to keep your arms straight throughout the exercise.

23. Rope climbing

How it goes:

  1. Make sure the rope is securely attached to the ceiling, then reach up and grasp it firmly between your hands.
  2. Pull your body weight up while pinning the rope between your feet with your legs (learn how to climb the rope like a CrossFit pro here).
  3. Repeat the movement, always keeping the rope between your feet, and then reverse it to lower yourself back down.
  4. Because this puts stress on your forearms (as well as your core, back, and upper arms), you should rest for three full minutes between climbs.

24. One-Arm Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press

How it goes:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the handle of a lightweight kettlebell in one hand on your shoulder with the bell pointing up towards the ceiling.
  2. Keeping your wrist rigid and straight, and engaging your core as you press the kettlebell overhead and straighten your elbow.
  3. Hold the handle tight and try to keep the weight from wobbling.
  4. Bend your elbow and lower the kettlebell to return to the starting position.

25. Hold plate clamp

How it goes:

  1. Hold heavy weight plates in both hands (you can also stack a couple of 10-pound plates, smooth side out).
  2. Squeeze them as firmly as possible between your thumb and fingers, and then let your arms hang at your sides.
  3. Hold as long as you can and rest for 60 seconds. between repetitions.
  4. You can also do plate pinch rows and carries to exhaust your forearms.

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