Last week we discussed the essentials of three useful forearm-blasters: Forearm-rolls with barbell behind the back, Nautilus forearm machine, and Forearm rolls machine. They all have one thing in common--actually, two things: They hurt, and they're effective. This week we'll look into another three exercises, starting with:
Reverse Forearm Rolls
Just like forearm rolls with a barbell behind the back is mean to your "bottom side" forearms, this one is sure to 100% target your "upper" forearms. The muscles we're talking about are pretty small and very much overlooked by most bodybuilders. If you have great forearms by nature - well for you! But if you have skinny, pencil-shaped forearms that look completely out of proportion to your upper-arms, this will help correct the problem.
Execution: Sit down in front of a Scott-board, as if you were just about to do bicep-curls. Grab a LIGHT, straight barbell with an overhand grip (thumbs down), and rest the middle of your forearms on the top of the Scott-board. Angle your forearms to an approximate 45-degree slant downwards, and try to disconnect everything but your forearms. To achieve this, I usually bend my elbows just slightly while consciously relaxing the upper-arms. Your starting position is with the barbell as far back as it'll go, i.e. trying to touch the forearms on the same side as the palms. From there, you simply extend your hand, and pull up and back as far as you can towards the ceiling. By necessity, you will have to use lightweights, so make up for that by executing the movement in a slow, exact flow. Shortly, you will find lactic acid and fatigue where you thought it'd never be.
TIP: If you have a spotter, have him/her assist you by ROLLING the bar rather than LIFTING it the last inch.
Supination / Pronation Machine - View Similar
This machine is admittedly rare out there, but since I have yet to see a single soul USE it when it IS, I thought I'd mention it: It's pretty similar to the Forearm rolls machine - except for that instead of holding on to a bar and rolling it, you grasp a handle and simply rotate it. Your entire body - including the upper-arms, are pretty much still, but you rotate your hands first in one direction, then the other. This targets a whole bunch of small muscles that you don't normally train with barbell curls, and actually even involves the Biceps to some degree (even though this shouldn't be considered a bicep-exercise by any stretch of the imagination).
But hope is not gone for the rest of us - simply grab a dumbbell with adjustable weights, remove all the weights from one side, and hold on to the empty side with one hand. Next, you kneel in front of a bench, resting your elbow/forearm against it, and rotate your hand back and forth. True, the resistance is less even than using the machine, but I've tried it myself a couple of times and it worked out Ok.
Hammer Curls With A Twist - View Similar (Shown w/o twist)
I saved the worst for last. This is probably the meanest exercise for "upper" forearms there is, and if you're in a situation where you don't have time for Reverse forearm rolls on a Scott-board, or any other specific exercise, you'll love this one. Or not. Whatever, this is an all-round-blaster, and in combination with Forearm-rolls with barbell behind the back, this might actually be enough to bring your forearms up to speed (but remember to alternate exercises often - same thing week after week won't get you ultimate growth).
Start as a standing, alternating hammer curl - feet shoulder-wide, knees slightly bent, abs tense, dumbbells hanging down the sides, shoulders back and relaxed. Keeping your elbows pointing as much down to the floor as possible, start curling with your thumb up (just like a hammer curl). Now, the trick is that by midpoint, you start twisting the dumbbell as if you wanted your pinkie-finger to touch your chin! So, you might be a little bit closer to the body than usual, and in the end position your palm is facing down and out from you, elbow still pointing down, and your forearms are on fire. At the top you squeeze for a second, then slowly returns down... And if you want maximum effect, try keeping the palms-down grip all the way until your forearms are hanging by your side.
Like I said, this one is mean - you're using the Brachialis (the little supporting muscles to the biceps) to curl it up, but the more you twist your hand palms-down, the more stress you put on your forearms. The effect is tremendous.
Now, alternating these six handy exercises in your workout is a sure way to increase both grip strength and volume. As usual, be attentive to joint pain and twisting sensations, and make sure to always be properly warmed up. Don't train with any kind of injury. Your hands and forearms are more complicated than you might think, and the last thing you want is finding out by getting an injury that will compromise your training for months or years to come.
Note: This Is Part Two, Click Here For Part One!