Ah yes, the famous forearms and trapezius. How many times have people told you that they don't train their forearms because they are being worked in almost every exercise? And how many times when you ask somebody how they train their neck and traps, they answer, "traps and neck? YUCK!"
Who would want to have a big neck or huge disgusting muscular traps? Well, bodybuilders sure do. It seems forearms and trapezius are partly a mystery in weight training because of how small the muscles are, and because they are being worked in many other exercises.
What exercises can be followed to achieve awesome traps and huge forearms?
What is the best rep range for training traps and forearms?
What is the most effective trap and forearm routine you have ever used?
How long will it take to see results?
Bonus Question: Which Bodybuilding.com forum members have great traps? The best forearms? Post links to where their pictures are located on our forum, or attach them to your post.
1. sword chucks View Profile
2. bubbag (tie) View Profile
2. DSM18 (tie) View Profile
2. ho124 (tie) View Profile
2. muscleboy333 (tie) View Profile
3. chewwy View Profile
1st Place - sword_chucks
Traps and Forearms: Bringing Your Physique Together
Let's talk a bit about two of the less popular muscle groups of the body, the traps and the forearms. The traps and forearms are not the biggest, or the most noticeable muscles on anyone's physique. In a bodybuilding competition, on the beach, or when you are just at the gym, people don't always notice traps and forearms when they can be admiring your stellar leg or abdominal development. However, what they WILL notice is if your physique lacks these muscles!
The key to any bodybuilding physique is its aestheticism! A bodybuilder with a pencil neck and no trap development looks incomplete, as does a bodybuilder with skinny, peapod-like, grainy forearms but thick upper arms. Every time you strike a bodybuilding pose, or every time you are transitioning from one pose to another, your physique should appear complete. The trapezius and forearm muscles are both areas that you can't hide when posing! They show no matter what!
While in the gym, I rarely see people training their forearms or traps with direct work. Most people just don't consider it. Just jumping into a set of shrugs or forearm curls can be a big step for them. Since we are already bodybuilders, though, we should have already been training these muscle groups! The only problem would be if our routines were not producing results, or we do not fully appreciate the trapezius and forearm muscles as much as we should and therefore neglect them.
This article will go in depth into trap training and forearm training. I will discuss one muscle group at a time. First, I will say how that muscle plays a role in bodybuilding, and then I will give various methods of training each muscle, so that you can find one that suits you!
The first muscle that I'm going to address is the trapezius! First, I will go into how the traps are important to a bodybuilder. I will also fully describe every area of the trapezius and each muscle group within it.
The traps are more of a complex muscle than most bodybuilders realize. I will go into both beginner routines and advanced routines in this section. With the facts that you will learn, I guarantee that your mind-to-muscle connection will improve and your trapezius development will skyrocket.
The Traps' Role in Bodybuilding
The trap muscles play just as big a role in the bodybuilder's physique as muscles like the rear delts and lower back. When fully developed, they can look very impressive!
"The traps are important to both front and back poses. For example, see how they help tie the back together in a back double-biceps shot."
The traps are involved in any bodybuilding pose, because they can be seen from the sides, the front, AND the back!
What to Know about Trapezius Training
There are many subtleties that surround trapezius training that all advanced bodybuilders need to know. A beginning bodybuilder may not benefit from this knowledge, but an advanced bodybuilder should know exactly what they are looking for in terms of trap development.
Where You Can Find Your Traps
The first step to building terrifying traps is to actually know where they are. The trapezius muscles are more than just the muscles on the side of your neck and behind it. The traps are actually a huge muscle group, and are larger than the abdominals! The entire trapezius starts up by your neck, ties in with the side and rear deltoids, and then connects with the spine down to the middle back. As you can see, the traps are a big piece of the real estate on your body.
How The Traps Are Always At Work
The trapezius muscles are thought of as some of the most functional muscles in the body. This is because the traps actually have four (4) key functions! Because it is such a big muscle group, you'd expect it to be involved in a lot of exercises.
Function 1: Raise The Scapulae Up
The main function of the upper trapezius fibers is to elevate the scapulae. In other words, the traps cause you to raise the shoulders up like you are trying to listen to your deltoids.
By changing the angle of the neck during scapulae elevation, you can target a different area of the trapezius. When you look at the floor, you will activate the traps in the middle-upper area, but by looking up you can place even more emphasis on the upper fibers.
Scapulae elevation is mimicked in shrugs an isolation exercise. You can perform this exercise using barbells, or dumbbells.
Scapulae elevation also takes place in upright rows.
Function 2: Turn The Head
The upper fibers of the traps also work to turn the head, laterally flex the neck as if to touch one ear to the shoulder, or extend the neck as if to look at the ceiling.
This type of movement trains both the trapezius muscles and the neck muscles. Many bodybuilders overlook exercises like these, so by giving them some attention, you may be able to give yourself an edge with trap development while you are on stage.
Movement of the neck can be mimicked by exercises using the hear harness. A head harness is shown below. You can extend or laterally flex the neck against resistance using this tool. Alternatively, you can use manual resistance, but this method is less accurate and it is more difficult to fully load the neck.
Function 3: Secondary Function In Shoulder Exercises
The trapezius muscles might be a pulling muscle, but they also play a secondary role in all overhead presses. The traps have to work hard to keep the shoulder joints stable during an overhead press. The traps also are used in the lateral raise- especially if the elbows go higher than the shoulders.
You will find that you are already training this function of the traps, even if you don't know it! Many beginners put some effort into shoulder raises and sometimes even dumbbell presses, so they are already stimulating the traps to some degree.
Function 4: Secondary Function In Pulling Movements
So far, all of the trap functions that I outlined stimulate the upper traps, but I did not go into the functions of the middle and lower trap fibers. When training back and rear delts, these muscles come into play.
Development of the middle fibers can be achieved through rowing movements in which you adduct the scapulae. This movement is also done in any rear deltoid exercises.
Because you should already be doing these exercises, there is no reason to add in any more exercises to target middle traps. Just do your rows and rear delt movements as usual.
Advanced bodybuilders with weak middle traps could benefit from an exercise that mimics scapulae adduction- you can do this by going to any row exercise with the arms perpendicular to the body and pulling the shoulder blades together.
Development of the lower trapezius can be achieved by performing pulling movements that work in the vertical plane. Depression of the scapulae is a function of the lower traps as well as a function of the lats. This means, when you do pull-ups or pull downs, you are using your lower traps.
Just like rows, you should already be doing vertical pulling movements. Later on, if it comes to your attention that your lower traps are a weak point, you can mimic the scapulae depression by going to a pull down machine and pulling the shoulder blades straight down, with straight arms.
When To Train Trapezius
The traps are one of those muscle groups that are seeing more work than you think. They could be being hit anywhere from 2 times a week to 6 times a week! The traps are indirectly trained during back training, shoulder training, and leg training. Certain arm and chest exercises utilize the traps to a small degree as well.
However, this doesn't mean you can neglect your traps. Most people fit in direct trap training on either the same day as back, or the same day at deltoids. Both of these methods have merit.
Same Day As Back
Training traps on the same day as back is a very sensible method. Since the lower and middle fibers of the traps are really stressed by traditional back exercises, it only makes sense to complete the workout by performing shrugs for the upper traps.
The only problem with this is that back training is already a huge work load! Working traps after 10-20 or more heavy sets of deadlifts, rows and pull-ups seems like a recipe for poor upper trap development. After training the back muscles, you will have trouble using full intensity for trap training.
Same Day As Deltoids
Training traps on the same day as deltoids is another reasonable method. The upper fibers of the traps are heavily stimulated during all vertical presses and lateral raises.
It makes perfect sense to train the traps on this day, so that you basically get a full week off of complete trap stimulation for full recovery. This method has one problem, which is that after fatiguing the upper traps, you will not be able to use maximum poundage on your shrugs.
Deciding what day to train traps on can be a tough choice. I would recommend trying both schedules, and seeing what you like best! Either way, the traps will sprout, and be on their way to new development!
Trapezius Training With Different Rep Ranges Keep An Open Mind!
As you may have learned, training for bodybuilding isn't exactly rocket science. There are many different types of routines that produce results, and finding one that works is generally easy if you know your stuff!
However, it isn't as simple as picking your nose either. There are many different views when it comes to training the traps. Some people believe that all that is necessary is indirect work. Others think a high rep, high set approach is best for traps development.
All of these views have merit, but I think that they are not meant for everyone. I will present 3 different views on trap training here, to give you different choices if you feel that your current trap routine is not delivering!
Method 1: Less Is More!
One common method to training traps, is technically a method for NOT training them! With the "less is more" method, it is assumed that exercises like lateral raises, deadlifts, and military presses stimulate the traps enough to achieve full development.
This seems very extreme to some people, but if you have been training your traps with minimal gains on them for a long time now, you might want to look into this method for a month or two.
Completely dropping traps from the routine is hard for most people because they think they MUST shrug to improve their traps. This method is worth trying if you haven't gotten what you want from other routines.
Method 2: High-Rep Trap Training
Another thought about trap training is that they are one muscle that tends to respond to a higher rep range. I've heard accounts where guys start to see explosive new trap growth from just changing the rep range to 12-15 reps per set!
You would probably have to lighten weights significantly for this, but your new development may surprise you. With this method to training the trapezius, you should take quality over quantity.
Focus on flexing your traps at the top of each movement! Just like any other new training method, I would recommend giving this a shot only if the traps are a very weak visual point on the body.
Method 3: Power Training
The third method to training traps that can be incorporated is "power training". This method is just what it sounds like—you focus on explosive compound movements, and heavy weights, but low reps.
With this method, you should work with exercises such as hang cleans and power shrugs. This is because in these two exercises, you can use an appreciable amount of weight to fully overload the muscle, and it they work well in low rep ranges.
This explosive training method is not going to injure you if you can perform the exercises properly, so I suggest working on form.
How To Keep An Open Mind
When I say to keep an open mind, I mean that you should never think that one training program is the only option. If you feel that your traps are lacking, a change of direction in training is a great idea.
By trying the above methods, you will find new ways to fully overload and develop the traps and bring up your physique even more. Most advanced bodybuilders agree that there isn't just a single repetition range that produces optimal results for everyone- you should try out all of the methods above and see what you respond best to.
5 Trap Exercises For Full Development
Even though the traps are targeted indirectly with many exercises, there are a lot of movements that work to target the trap muscles specifically.
The exercises below are all basic functions, and can be performed with many other variations- choosing a barbell, dumbbells, or a different grip position, for example, can be a useful trick to keep things interesting.
Who doesn't like shrugs? Shrugs are a favored exercise in gyms because it is a simple movement, and you can use a good amount of weight. Not all newbies to lifting perform shrugs, but some do- shrugs are just a popular exercise.
When performing shrugs, you should try to limit elbow movement, and just focus on pulling the shoulders as high as possible. It is not usually a good idea to obsess over bringing the shoulders above ear level, because most people simply can't do this.
Just pick a relatively light weight to start, and test your range of motion, then as you move up in weight, you should always keep that in mind. Don't count a rep if it is not a full shrug!
Upright rows are also another common gym exercise. That's because it is so simple! With the upright row, all you do is take a barbell or some dumbbells, and stand up straight, pulling the weights up to chest level.
I definitely do not advise pulling higher than this, though. The shoulder joint can be fragile for most people—especially beginners to weight lifting.
Upright rows can cause serious damage to the rotator cuff area in the shoulders. If you start to feel pain in the shoulders, it would be very wise to stop the exercise!
The face pull is a very effective exercise for targeting middle traps. It is usually best to perform the face pull using a cable apparatus. What you do is hold the weight at about eye level, and pull it straight back!
You will feel an intense contraction in the traps and rear delts. I recommend using the rope handle or a straight bar handle for this movement.
The power shrug is one of the top ways to overload the upper traps! With the power shrug, you must use a barbell, and I would also recommend picking it up out of a power cage.
Another useful item for power shrugs is a pair of straps.
So you have the barbell hanging in front of you by the straps... what's next?
- First, lean forward slightly, and bend the knees a bit.
- Second, explode up with a powerful knee extension and back extension!
- Try holding the weight at the top quickly to make sure you have control over the weight.
This exercise is great for stimulating the traps with super heavy weights.
The deadlift is one of the best back, leg, forearm, trapezius and overall body building exercises out there. Even if it isn't a row or pull down movement, you can't deny that this motion blasts the lower and upper back!
To perform the deadlift:
- First load a bar, and place it on the ground.
- Grip the bar. It should be right up against your shins.
- Now straighten your back, and pull the weight back, maintaining a straight back.
- At the top, the traps and back muscles go through a strong isometric contraction, which is where the growth comes from!
Training Traps For Beginners
Just like training any other muscle, beginner-level training for the traps should be kept simple, and should focus on simple movements that recruit the most muscle fiber. By focusing on advanced exercise, a beginning bodybuilder might develop weak points, but by sticking with simple exercises, a beginning bodybuilder can create a solid base of mass.
For a beginner or a novice bodybuilder, a great routine for the trapezius muscle group is just based on a few simple movements. As a beginner or novice, they should also be working on the rest of the body, which will help strengthen the traps indirectly. Here is the beginner trap routine:
- Barbell Shrugs: 2 sets of 5-10 repetitions
- Face Pull: 2 sets of 5-10 repetitions
Bringing Out Every Area of the Traps
An Advanced Routine!
To call yourself an advanced bodybuilder, you should have a few years of training experience. At this point, you probably have begun assessing weak points in your physique.
When it comes to traps, you may have a weak point in lower, middle, or upper traps, or your traps might just be overpowering the rest of your physique! An advanced bodybuilding routine needs to be tailored to these needs. Here are some suggestions for bringing up weak points in the trapezius muscles.
Your Weak Point: Upper Traps
This is the easiest weakness to spot. If you have poor upper trap development, focus on shrug movements looking straight forward, or up at the ceiling.
Your Weak Point: Middle Traps
If your middle traps appear weak, put some more effort into your row movements and deadlifts. Face pulls will really help here as well.
Your Weak Point: Lower Traps
If your lower traps are overpowered by the rest of your back, I recommend placing more emphasis on pull down movements in your back routine. This is the key to bringing up this area if it is not up to par yet.
Too Much Traps?
Although achieving "terrifying traps" is a great accomplishment, you do not want your traps to become scary to the point where they give you a narrow, sloping look.
Even if your shoulders and lats are well developed, your trapezius will give a visual effect that they are a weak point on your body! To rectify this, I would recommend toning down the trapezius training.
You can start to focus on higher reps and lower volume to give your lats and delts time to catch up while your traps are not growing as fast as usual.
A Few Trap-Thickening Routines
Here are a four workout suggestions that include the trapezius. I will first go into my favorite trap routine, and then a few others that I have tried and liked as well!
Trap Training Routine 1
On a total upper body day!—My Most Effective Trap Routine
- Bench press: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Wide-grip pull-down: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Seated Rows: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Side lateral raise: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Barbell Curl: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Triceps Dips: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Dumbbell Shrug: 4 sets of 5-10 reps
This total upper body workout should be performed twice a week. Training each muscle a little bit more often is a great way to encourage new growth!
This is my most effective trap routine, as well as my most effective program for other body parts, because I have found that training each muscle one time per week leaves too much time for recovery and stagnation.
Trap Training Routine 2
On back day!
- Deadlifts: 3 sets of 5 reps
- Weighted pull-ups: 4 sets of 5-10 reps
- T-bar Rows: 4 sets of 5-10 reps
- Dumbbell Pull-over: 2 sets of 15 reps
- Barbell Shrugs: 2 sets of 5 reps
- Upright Row: 2 sets of 12-15 reps
This workout is meant to target the back muscles with a large variety of exercises and rep ranges. You start with overall back movements to build mass. The DB Pullovers will give your trapezius muscles a little break, because they take the traps out of the movement, before you move on to heavy shrugs.
Trap Training Routine 3
On shoulder day!
- Dumbbell Military Press: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Lateral raise to front: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Machine lateral raise: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Dumbbell Rear Lateral: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Face Pull: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Dumbbell Shrug: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
This shoulder workout starts off by hitting the traps hard with indirect movements, then moving on to target them specifically. Notice how face pulls are finishing off the rear delts as you are beginning trap training.
Trap Training Routine 4
Power Training Style, Shoulder day.
- Barbell Military press: 4 sets of 5 reps
- Hang Clean and Press: 8 sets of 3 reps
- Power Shrug: 8 sets of 3 reps
Power training is a great way to develop big, hulking traps, as well as stimulating some serious growth in the deltoids. By focusing on explosive moves, and a lot of sets in low repetition ranges, you place some serious overload on the muscles.
Also, this will minimize the chance of injury, because it is easy to focus on proper form when performing sets of low repetitions.
Seeing Results in the Traps
When I first began bodybuilding, I did not put much effort into my trapezius development. I never thought to include shrugs in my routine. Luckily, I was already performing deadlifts on a consistent basis.
A few months into my training, I came across a workout routine that included shrugs. The workout routine said, "If You Want To Be Nasty, You Have To Shrug!"
I soon began to load up the barbell to perform shrugs 2 to 3 times weekly.
I did not notice anything for the first week or two, but after the third or fourth week of training traps consistently, I came home to shower. Feeling pumped up, I hit a most muscular, and my traps just popped out.
It felt amazing to notice the veins running along my neck and traps, like I had really accomplished something. I must have stood flexing in my full mirror for at least 10 minutes—my parents were getting worried! I believe that any bodybuilder can achieve noticeable results in the trapezius very quickly—within 2 to 3 weeks of training.
Terrifying Traps From Bodybuilding.com Forums
Interacting with many other bodybuilders at the forums is a great way to learn about bodybuilding, and become inspired by some of the more experience individuals there.
Some members here have some freaky traps, and just when you think your traps are big enough, they come along to show you some that are freakier! It gives you something to strive for.
Bdybuilderchuck is one member whose traps really stand out. He is still building a base of mass for competitions later on, but you can tell that his traps are going to give him a big edge on stage.
Notice how even though his traps pop out at the neck, they do not take away from his overall width. This is a great balance of traps, delts and lats.
In this next picture, development in the middle and lower traps is clear as well. Chuck demonstrates how good trap development can be useful in both front and back poses.
So how does Chuck build up traps like these? Well, this was Chuck's latest trap workout:
- Set 1: 280 pounds, 4 repetitions
- Set 2: 275 pounds, 5 repetitions
- Set 3: 275 pounds, 4 repetitions
It is clear that the power training approach has led to some impressive results in Chuck's traps.
Chuck goes on to explain his training methods for traps.
"I personally love db's b/c they allow for greater ROM and each side works on its own... but the db's at my gym only go to 100 and I can rep 100s out easily. Just hit them hard and heavy also leaning back at the top portion of heavy deads. Hope that helps," he explains.
Bdybuilderchuck's profile can be found here.
Part 2: Champion Forearms
The second muscle that I'm going to address is the forearms brachii! First, I will go into how the forearms are important to a bodybuilder. I will also fully describe every area of the forearms and each muscle that it contains.
The forearms are more of a complex muscle than most bodybuilders realize. I will go into routines for beginners and advanced bodybuilders here. With the facts that you will learn, I guarantee that your mind-to-muscle connection will improve and your forearm development will reach new heights.
The Forearms' Role in Bodybuilding
In bodybuilding, some muscles play more of a role than others. One such muscle is the forearms. The forearms are not just a visually appealing muscle group; they are also visible in ANY pose- much like the trapezius muscles.
Full forearm development is especially important to compliment large upper arms. However, they are more than just a vanity muscle.
"Good forearm development is necessary to create a championship physique, but forearm strength is just as important."(418, Schwarzenegger)
Forearm strength is key in all upper body exercises, and with weak forearms, you will have difficulty doing various exercises. Therefore, forearms contribute to a champion physique in two ways- by looking strong and powerful on stage or while you are wearing a T-shirt, and helping to build other muscles in various exercises!
What to know about Forearm Training
There are many little details involved in trapezius training that all advanced bodybuilders need to know. A beginning bodybuilder may not need to know these things, but an advanced bodybuilder should know exactly what they are looking for in terms of lower arm development.
The Forearm Complex
I've always been obsessed with forearm development. I was always amazed at professional bodybuilders and how their forearms appeared massive from every angle, especially from the front, and how they always looked thick but still had a striated, grainy quality that could not be matched by any other muscle group.
At one point in my beginner training, I considered devoting an entire day to forearms, and purchasing finger weights to isolate each area of the forearms! Needless to say, this was not necessary at all, and while the forearms may appear complex, training them doesn't have to be.
The forearms are composed of about 20 small muscles, but can be broken up into different areas. The top of the forearms is made up of the wrist extensor muscles. The bottom of the forearms is made up of the wrist flexor muscles. Somewhere in between is the brachioradialis, a single muscle group that gives the forearms more depth.
Function 1: Wrist Extension
The first function of the forearms worth noting is extension at the wrist. If the angle between the top of the forearms and the top of the hand is about 90 degrees, full wrist extension has been completed.
Just for fun, I suggest that you extend one finger at a time right now as you sit and read this. Look at how the different muscles flex and contract. When your forearms are fully developed, you want all of those muscles to stand out without flexing your fingers!
To mimic this function of the forearms, put weights in each hand and extend the wrists.
Function 2: Wrist Flexion
The second function of the forearms that I will discuss is flexion at the wrist. Full wrist flexion has been completed when the palm of the hand and the bottom-side of the forearm is about 90 degrees. This is a powerful muscle, and you can probably see a whole bunch of veins all over it.
Wrist flexion is the opposite of wrist extension, so to do this movement, just take a weight and flex at the wrists as described above.
Function 3: Elbow Flexion
Another key function of the forearms is flexion at the elbow. This function is controlled by the brachioradialis. Performing palms-up curls can be effective to stimulate this muscle, but palms-up curls favor the biceps, not the forearms.
To maximally target the forearms when performing elbow flexion, adapt a neutral grip during dumbbell curls, or use a palms-down grip.
Function 4: Wrist Adduction Or Abduction
One more function that the forearms perform alone is adduction or abduction at the wrists. This will target some other muscles of the forearms. Wrist adduction and abduction stimulate different pairs of muscles in the forearm flexors and extensors.
To feel what wrist adduction and abduction are like, simply turn your hand from side to side with your palm facing down. Try to notice what muscle fibers appear flexed when you complete full adduction or abduction at the wrist- it should be a few of the extensor muscles and a few of the flexor muscles.
Function 5: Hand Strength
While the forearms have many little functions that involve small weights and small amounts of muscle, the real part of forearm training is hand strength. Pretty much every exercise uses hand strength, even if you don't notice it. The exceptions are movements such as the "grip-less shrug" machines, and any other machine that doesn't require your hands to touch a weight.
While all exercises will place stress on the hands, you might want to isolate your hand strength to maximally overload the forearms. To do this, you can perform static holds using any weight that you can find.
I suggest taking a pair of dumbbells for this, and holding onto them for 20 to 30 seconds- choose a weight where you actually have to drop the weight after 30 seconds because your forearms have hit failure!
Training Both Sides Of The Forearms
One point that I would like to make is that when training forearms, you must be sure to equally train both sides! An imbalance in forearm development is the last thing you want.
Many lifters just place two or three sets of wrist curls at the end of an arm workout to target the forearms, and leave without targeting their wrist extensors at all.
When doing isolation exercises for the forearms, I recommend doing an equal number of sets of a forearm flexion movement and a wrist extension movement.
Integrating Forearms Into Your Schedule
Throughout a workout week, there are plenty of opportunities to train the forearms! Since they are targeted in all exercises but one or two, you could probably get away with training them any day you want to. However, I would recommend training them on either back day or arm day, and here is why.
Training With Back
Training forearms with back is a great idea because back day probably places more indirect stress on the forearms than any other day. All pulling movements probably require you to grip a weight.
Rows and pull-ups will not only require you to grip a weight, but they will also require elbow flexion. The traditional row and pull-up is performed with either a neutral grip, or a palms-away grip. Therefore, brachioradialis is hit hard during back training. You can't go wrong training forearms on back day.
Training With Arms
A more obvious choice for forearm training on your schedule is on arm day! Since forearms are a part of the arms, this would be an ideal time to train them. All arm exercises involve the forearms to some degree, especially curls and triceps extensions.
Another reason to train forearms after arms is that arm day is one of the less taxing days of the week, and even after adequately targeting the arms, you will be able to put maximum focus and effort into forearm training.
Overall, forearm training doesn't take much time, but is very useful in bodybuilding. I would recommend training forearms with back or arms because those two days place more stress on the forearms than any other day.
Forearm Training With Different Rep Ranges: Keep an Open Mind!
You may have learned that bodybuilding training is not all that complicated. There are more effective training methods than there are ineffective ones! When it comes to training the forearms, there are a couple of different viewpoints.
Some think that direct work is a waste of time and will actually hinder results, because of overtraining! Many people believe that the forearms respond better to high volume and high sets, like the calves.
I will go into 3 different methods that you can rely on to build forearms, and if you feel that you need to add more to your forearm development, try using a different method of training them.
Method 1: High Frequency, High Volume Training
Since the forearms are being used basically all day, in any activities, a lot of people relate them to the calf muscles. Think about it- as you sit at your computer typing, you are moving your fingers, constantly using all of those wrist extensor and flexor muscles.
You pick up your gallon jug of water to get a sip once every 2 to 3 minutes at least- that's a lot of work for the brachialis. It would only make sense that the forearms are going to need a lot of training to force an adaptive response!
With the "high frequency, high volume training" method, you should try to do a few overloading sets for both the forearm flexors and the extensors each workout, and focus on sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. This might take a few weeks to work, though, but give it a chance.
Method 2: Less Is More
Before I start this section, I just want to make sure that all you guys out there who go to the gym without even considering forearms are not practicing this method.
The "less is more" method is sometimes difficult to pull off, because with this method, you are not working forearms directly at all. This means you need to choose your exercises carefully. Choose the ones that require the grip to come into play to a great degree, such as deadlifts, or chins.
You should still focus on the target muscle, like back, but know that the forearms are being stressed a great deal as well. Over time, you can get yourself a very solid set of forearms, even without direct training!
Method 3: Static Strength
Even though direct forearm exercises like wrist curls and extensions stress the forearms a lot, you have probably noticed how the entire forearm musculature comes into play in pretty much any exercise.
Hand strength is trained in most exercises, besides 1 or 2. If you go over to do dips, and support yourself on your arms, you can feel your entire forearm contracted. If you are carrying a pair of dumbbells, your entire forearms should be working to hold that weight.
So how do you get more of this training? Focusing on "static strength" methods should be a great way to build up forearms. The best way to do this is to simply pick up a weight, such as a pair of dumbbells, and hold until failure.
Keep An Open Mind
With all of these methods, it is important to keep an open mind. Sometimes you may think that all muscles are the same, and you have to train each muscle with 2-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions per exercise, but this is not true.
Keeping an open mind will allow you to change your routine without stressing too much, which can lead to some new forearm growth. There is not just one single rep range that is ideal for anybody, especially in the forearms, which tends to be a more complicated muscle group- instead, try out the methods above, which all provide different amounts of tension for the forearms, and find out what you like best.
Forearm exercises: Improve Hand Strength and Build Developed Forearms
Here are some basic forearm movements. Keep in mind that you can use these movements with any equipment- cables, dumbbells, barbells, or any machine your gym has.
The wrist curl is a great exercise for the wrist flexors. It is an isolation exercise, so do not expect to use too much weight here. I recommend taking your weights and holding them over the edge of a bench. You will take a palms-up grip, and keep your elbows pointing directly behind you. Let your fingers hang down, then close your hand while bringing your palm towards your forearm.
The wrist extension trains the opposite muscle that wrist curls do. This, too, is an isolation exercise.
You will find that the mechanical position forces you to use weights on this exercise that might even embarrass you- I remember I once spent a whole 3 months working on my wrist extension strength just to build up to where I could use the empty Olympic bar for 6 reps!
With this exercise, I also like to use a bench. Let your forearms rest on the bench and take a palms-down grip. Extend the wrist until the top of your hand is perpendicular to your upper forearm.
The static hold should be used in any training routine, because it fortifies the grip. With this movement, you can use a barbell or dumbbells. All you do is hold the weight until your hands give out.
Beginner Forearm Routine
As a beginner or novice bodybuilder, you do not need to go to big lengths to bring up your forearms. I suggest a simple forearm routine to start. Initially, the stress placed on your forearms in movements like rows and deadlifts will shock them into new growth, and a few isolation exercises will finish them off, as you do not want to neglect any muscle in this stage. Here is the beginner forearm routine:
- Barbell Static hold: 2 sets of 10-20 seconds under tension
- Barbell Wrist Curl: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Barbell Wrist Extension: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
Make sure to include hammer curls in your biceps routine as well!
Advanced Forearm Routine
After a few years of training, I would expect your forearms to be as well-developed as the rest of your body. However, if you believe that your forearms need an edge, I suggest trying some of the methods that I mentioned before.
Since the entire forearm is trained in all exercises, you should not have any particular weaknesses in the forearms.
Different Forearm Routines For Making Champion Forearms
Here are four sample forearm routines for you to try out. I will first go into my favorite forearms routine, and then a few others that I have tried and liked as well!
Forearms Training Routine 1
Supplementing a deadlift routine!—My Most Effective Forearm Program
- Deadlifts: 6 sets of 3 reps
- Bent-over Row: 4 sets of 5 reps
- Reverse-grip pull-down: 4 sets of 5 reps
- Barbell Static Hold: 4 sets of 10-20 seconds under tension
This routine focuses on power training, to add serious strength and mass to your back and forearms. I saw great results in my forearms when performing this routine for a good 2 months.
I noticed a huge gain in grip strength, and I am sure that the simplicity of it made it a little more effective than other routines would have been at that time.
Forearms Training Routine 2
On arms day!
- Barbell Curl: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Alt. Dumbbell Curl: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Preacher Curl: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Triceps Dips: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Overhead extension: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Lying arm extension: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Barbell behind-the-back wrist curl: 4 sets of 5-10 reps
- Cable Wrist Extension: 4 sets of 5-10 reps
This routine focuses on arms alone. You will probably notice that your forearms are fatigued before you even begin training them on this program!
Forearms Training Routine 3
A Back/Biceps/Forearms workout.
- Deadlifts: 2 sets of 5 reps
- Weighted chin-up: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Wide-grip pull-down: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Seated Row: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Single-arm row: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Alternating dumbbell curl: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Cable Curl: 3 sets of 5-10 reps
- Hammer Curl: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Seated Wrist curl over bench: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
- Seated Wrist extension over bench: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
You should notice a buildup of fatigue in the biceps and forearms after this that is unreal!
Forearms Training Routine 4
A high volume workout.
- Wrist curls (forearms on knees): 4 sets of 10 reps
- Reverse barbell curls: 4 sets of 8 reps
- Weight roller machine: 2 sets to failure
This routine can be done by itself at the end of any workout, or whenever you want to do it. It goes with the "high frequency, high volume training" method- get ready to go to the extreme!
When To Expect Results In The Forearms
Forearms are also another muscle that you will suddenly notice results in. I remember the first time I trained forearms; I trained them so hard that they were still pumped the next day! I woke up that morning and I thought I was an animal with my forearms at least a half inch bigger than usual. This pump died down through the day, though, but soon after that I started seeing veins coming in on my forearms.
The first one I noticed was that big, thick vein that comes in around the elbow and runs all the way down the back of the forearm—I had always thought that looked cool, and I finally got it. You, too, will notice that your hard work starts to pay off in your forearm development within a month of training.
Champion Forearms From Bodybuilding.com Forums
You can learn a lot about bodybuilding from the interactive message boards. One great way to learn, I found, was from the experience that advanced bodybuilders have. Some members here have some insane forearms. Since the forearms are such a small muscle group, everybody wants bigger forearms.
Halfroman is one member who shows some champion forearms. While he has accumulated a lot of mass, his small wrists make it look even more impressive. Halfroman's forearms measure about 14.4 inches.
That might not sound incredibly huge, but with his 6 inch wrist, it is really an impressive sight. The picture below also shows how the brachioradialis muscle really gives the arm a powerful look, and shows its importance to bodybuilding—especially in the front relaxed pose.
So how does somebody go about building forearms like these? It takes a lot of time and hard work. Halfroman doesn't just have massive forearms—he is massive all over! With over 18 inch arms and over 26 inch thighs, it is obvious that Halfroman is putting some serious time and effort into total body training.
Deadlifting 420 pounds is one of his most impressive achievements, and it shows that working towards big weights using heavy compound movements is a great way to develop the full body.
If there is one thing that can be learned from this, it is that over time your forearms will become massive and developed. Hard work and consistency are the most important things, according to Halfroman.
To View halfroman's Profile Click Here.
This article went in-depth into training methods for the trapezius and forearms. I discussed both muscles separately, because I felt that both need a lot of attention when it comes to building a strong physique. You should know by now that the traps and forearms play a large role in bodybuilding, and how to make them fit that role.
Too many people don't even consider direct forearm or trapezius training to be important. They either don't know how to train their forearms and traps, or they are being lazy. As bodybuilders, we are trying our best to develop symmetry as well as mass and conditioning, so we can not afford to neglect either of these muscle groups.
A physique completely lacking forearm and trapezius development simply does not show ideal symmetry. The traps and forearms are visible from all angles, so you can't hide them by adapting a new posing style! Poor traps will make your deltoids and lats look bad, and small forearms will take away from your total arm development.
If you have great trap and forearm development, the judges may not fully appreciate this, and it won't be the reason you win. It will give you some extra points, though, because it adds symmetry. Another thing that is important to realize is that if you lack these muscles, the judges will not ignore it, and it will give your competitors an edge. For non-competitive bodybuilders, there is just as much incentive to fully train the forearms and traps- they are both muscles that make you look freakishly big in a T-shirt.
- For the high volume forearm routine: www.trulyhuge.com
- For upper traps, [ online ]
- Middle traps, [ online ]
- Lower traps, [ online ]
- Forearm info, [ online ]
2nd Place - bubba_g
Building massive traps is a lot easier for some then it is for others, a few factors are involved. For example, People with squared shoulders have a much harder time building an impressive set of traps than someone with sloping shoulders, another consideration is genetics, some people's arms grow like mad but can't put mass on their legs easily, some people have a massive chest but small arms etc.
Same goes for traps, some people's traps grow to an impressive size with no direct works, and others just can't seem to add any mass to theirs even after a lot of direct work.
I myself have very broad squared shoulders but through trial and error I have been able to really pack some serious mass onto my traps. So I will go over a few of the exercises, and techniques I used that finally made them grow.
When I first started training my traps I did shrugs for my traps doing slow and controlled reps on the positive and negative parts of the lift. After doing this for about a year switching between barbell, and dumbbells I didn't see much of an improvement.
I thought maybe I was genetically cursed with small traps. But I decided I wasn't going to give up that easily and made some changes that for me made a huge difference.
Instead of going slow and controlled on both parts of the shrug I started exploding up with the weight then pausing at the top of the movement for 2 seconds then a 3 second negative.
By doing this I was able to use a lot more weight, and was able to add a lot more weight every week and I immediately began seeing improvement in my traps. After a few months of training this way I was finally starting to build my traps the way I wanted.
That was the beginning from there I found a few other things that worked well for me. Here are some of them.
Effective Trap Exercises: Shrug Variations
Standard Barbell Shrug
The standard shrug is performed by grasping the bar with a shoulder width, or slightly wider grip and shrugging the shoulders straight up, and down. (Do not roll your shoulders) A good guide to go by is you try to touch your shoulders to your ears, don't worry if you can't touch your ears with your shoulders but that is the basic motion.
Close grip shrugs are great for building height to your traps. I like to keep my hands as close together as is comfortable (usually about 6 inches apart) again explosive positive, 2 second pause at top the 3 second negative.
These are very effective at hitting the front part of the traps. A lot of people don't do them because their ass gets in the way of smoothly shrugging the bar up. I have that problem myself; I overcame this by leaning back against a power rack. Leaning back at a very slight angle makes a world of difference as far as the ass interference goes. I never see anyone doing these but they are an excellent variation of the shrug.
Dumbbell shrugs are my favorite shrug movement. To me they feel the most natural, and you can do front, side, and rear shrugs with the dumbbells. These are a great addition to any trap workout.
Here is another effective trap movement I rarely see performed. It hits the delts as well as the traps. It is performed by lifting the bar over your head as if you were at the top of a shoulder press keeping the arms locked at the top position, and then shrugging the shoulders straight just as you would a standard shrug.
Calf Machine Shrugs
These are done by simply getting in a standing calf machine, getting yourself lined up with the pads on your shoulders, and shrugging your shoulders straight up and down. The thing I really like about these is that they really isolate your traps.
The 45-degree shrugs thicken the middle traps, and rhomboids like nothing else. Simply lay face down on a 45-degree angled bench grab a couple of dumbbells and shrug the weight straight up and down.
Cables a great variation, and are an awesome way hitting the traps from some different angles. If you stand directly over the pulley you will hit the traps from the same angle as standard shrugs, take a step back and you will be putting the emphasis on the back of the traps a little more, take two steps back and you will shift most of the tension on the middle traps.
These are another favorite of mine. You have the natural grip you get from dumbbells, with the heavy poundage's of barbell shrugs. These are done just by using a shrug-bar.
Ok that about covers it for shrugs. I just want to point out that all of these will put some awesome mass on the forearms as well.
Other Effective Trap Exercises
Not only are deadlifts one of the best exercises for adding overall thickness to the traps, deads are probably the single best exercise for adding mass, Talk about a compound exercise, it hits almost every muscle in your body. If your back is healthy and adding slabs of mass to your frame is your goal then deads are defiantly your friend.
Upright rows are a controversial exercise that's not for everybody. Some people injure their rotator cuff very easily with this exercise; others can do it for years with no problems.
For that reason it is best that you start with a low weight and work your way up. If you start experiencing any pain in your rotator cuffs then stop the exercise immediately and find something else to replace it.
Rotator injuries are no fun and most people who train have injured their s at one time or another. Something that most people don't realize is that rotator cuff injuries most often are not quick complete tears but rather are micro tears that in time build up scar tissue and eventually cause an impingement.
This can often require surgery to remove the scar tissue. But to those who are fortunate enough to not have problems with this exercise, it is an excellent addition to any trap routine. They can be done with a straight bar, ez-curl bar, or you can do a cable variation with a low pulley.
The farmers walk is a very effective trap exercise that is performed by picking up a pair of heavy ass dumbbells and walking with them until your grip fails (watch your toes) doing them this way will also hit your forearms quite well. If you want to isolate your traps with this one use your lifting straps, or hooks.
Pick two of these exercises and do 4 sets of each at 10-15 reps per set. When you are done your traps will be ready to explode with new growth.
Also you can up the intensity with all but deadlifts by utilizing all the different techniques you use on other exercises.
100 Rep Sets
These are a huge favorite of mine and they can be done in a couple of ways one way is to use a light weight that you can get 100 reps with without stopping, the other way is to use a heavier weight preferably one you can get 50 reps with without stopping then taking 5 deep breaths, cranking out as many more as you can then 5 deep breaths, repeating this till you reach 100 reps. this will pump so much blood into your traps you will think they are going to split open.
Drop sets are another common technique for really adding intensity to exercises, and trap exercises are no exception. Use these to increase the effectiveness of any of the trap exercises.
Supersets are a great way to not only shock the traps into new growth they are a great way to shorten the duration of your workouts. They are done by doing two exercises back to back with no rest period in between.
Use straps or hooks while doing your trap exercises. You will be removing the forearms from the equation, but you will be able to handle far greater weight for the given exercises. A lot of people say it is not good to do because you miss out on the forearm involvement, but you will be throwing plenty of work their way when you do your forearm routine. There is no sense in limiting the weight you use to stimulate your traps by what your grip can manage. Ok there you have it, everything you need to know to build yourself an impressive set of Traps.
Now on to phase 2 of this article.
Forearms are not most people's favorite part to train, mainly because most of the exercises for them are uncomfortable to say the least, but they are a site to behold when they are built up properly. I am going to go over some exercises that should allow you to do just that.
Though forearms are a fairly small muscle group, they can be hit many different ways, and your forearm muscles control the movement of your wrist, which can move 4 different ways, your grip, not only that, it assists in bending the arm at the elbow. Ok so now that you are familiar with all the different actions of the forearm lets get started learning some exercises for them.
Wrist curls are a good forearm isolation movement, now as I said earlier the wrist bends 4 different ways but many people only do them supinated (palms up), or pronated (palms down) which is good but we don't want good, we want great. so in addition to doing palms up, and palms down wrist curls I curl the wrist to the front by taking a dumbbell and only putting weight on one side of it then with my hands hanging to my sides in hammer grip position, I then grab the bar as you would a hammer.
Then keeping my arm in the same position I proceed to curl my wrist up as though I was trying to hit a nail but with out using my arm. Next I take that same dumbbell with the weight loaded on one side and hold it in my hand as I raise my arm still in the hammer grip position.
Ok now that my arm is straight up in the air I curl my wrist again as if I was trying to hammer an imaginary nail into the ceiling without moving my arm.
That covers the wrist curl portion of your forearm workout, let's move on.
Reverse curls are probably the best exercise for hitting your brachioradiallis, they are performed by grabbing the bar about shoulder width with a pronated (palms down) grip and curling the bar up. They can be done with either a straight bar, or an EZ-curl bar.
This exercise hits the forearm and the biceps, it is a very good forearm builder and it can be done with dumbbells or with a triceps bar. The triceps bar variation allows you to use more weight. Ok that's it for the curling lets move on to gripping exercises.
Like I said earlier done without straps, or hooks this is a great exercise for strengthening, and adding mass to the forearms.
Pull-Up Bar Hangs
Hang from a pull up bar until your grip gives out. This can be done weighted also if you are not too high up.
These are done simply by pinching a weight plate with your hands, and holding it till your grip fails. Ok that about covers it for forearm exercises.
Most Effective Rep Range
I feel that with traps and forearms it is most effective to do a progressive load. I think it is most effective because it stimulates all of your slow and fast twitch muscle fibers.
- 1st set = 15 reps
- 2nd set = 10 reps
- 3rd set = 6 - 8 reps
- 4th set = 4 - 6 reps
My most effective routine for traps, and forearms for me was:
- Close grip barbell shrugs: 4 sets 15, 10, 8, 6 reps
- Behind the back shrugs: 4 sets 15, 10, 8, 6 reps
- Wrist curls in all 4 directions: 3 monster sets 12 reps each
- Farmer's walk with the heaviest dumbbells I can pick up
I saw results from these instantly. In the first week I noticed a difference, and in the following weeks the gains kept coming.
2nd Place (Tie): DSM18
Knowledge Is A Virtue! Educate Yourself On Training Traps/forearms To Maximize Gains!
Traps and forearms are often overlooked in peoples routine because people believe they already get enough indirect work. But, just like calves, although they are small muscle groups, they need attention too. Before we go into how to train them, we have to have a sound knowledge of the muscle itself.
The trapezius contains four fibers, fibers 3 and 4 located on the upper back, and fibers one and two, located next to the neck that give that famous, sought after "Big man" look.
This article will focus more on the upper part of the traps, as trapezius 3 and 4 are commonly trained with other back muscles in back movements such as heavy rows, and because of this, can be seen as more of a back muscle.
Forearms are separated into wrist flexors, located on the inner arm, and wrist extensors, located on the outer arm. The Flexors act to bring the wrist inwards, in a similar fashion to the way the biceps work to flex the forearm up, whereas the extensors bring the hand upwards. Located near the elbow joint is the Brachioradialis.
It crosses the elbow and runs down and in between the other two forearm muscles, and when developed, makes the arms appear wider, and therefore adds an illusion of more mass.
Although, the Brachioradialis is a forearm muscle, it is heavily involved in bicep movements, and wrist extensors and flexors will be the focus in this article.
How Many Sets And Reps?
One of the keys to attaining a nice body is symmetry. It makes the body look a lot more aesthetic, and pleasing to look at. Just look at how good Frank Zane, or Flex Wheeler looked—one of the reasons they stood out from the rest was there muscular symmetry.
Everything fit into place on these two physiques, as if they were sculpted to perfection. Although both had faults, having good symmetry detracts away from these. A key to achieving this balance is to train muscle groups accordingly.
Bigger muscle groups such as chest and back should be given the highest amount of sets, and smaller ones such as biceps and triceps less. It doesn't matter on the volume or split you use; you should always make sure there is a healthy ratio between sets allocated to each muscle group.
But, you see so many people using almost as many sets for biceps alone as they do for back. Say, if your training high volume, using 20 sets each for bigger muscles such as back and chest, biceps and triceps each should be give just half of that volume, and shoulders being slightly bigger muscle group, should get a few more sets than bi's or tri's.
So where do forearms and traps fit in? Significantly less than biceps and triceps, because they of their indirect work. 6 sets is sufficient for both muscle groups.
You see a lot of people advocating 12 set trap workouts, but how can that be the best approach when a lot of people train 12 sets for shoulders alone. The upper traps are also very respondent to training for most people.
During shoulders, you are also training traps, so in total traps are getting more work than shoulders. High volume in this case is a recipe for disproportion. Although on paper, the workout I will provide later won't appear glamorous, it's all you need to get killer forearms and traps. As the saying goes, sometimes less is more.
Now what is a healthy rep range? The main exercises used in the trap and forearm workouts are shrugs and wrist curls. They are exercises that are easy to perform high amount of repetitions, using heavy weight.
They aren't like squats in the sense that the overall amount of effort needed to do them doesn't restrict you from having the endurance to perform an extra few reps. Think of them like calf raises.
You don't hear much of high rep trap work, because usually people gather that the higher the reps, the less weight you use. Although true to an extent, it doesn't apply as strictly with shrugs or wrist curls as does with heavy compound exercises such as squats.
So traps and forearms can be trained using a moderately heavy weight at a rep range of 12-15.
What Exercises Are Used To Train Traps And Forearms
Starting with traps, they are isolated doing shrugs, and trained less directly in rowing movements. Upright rows if done using a wide grip are a compound movement that will hit the traps, but are nowhere as direct as shrugs are.
Upright rows with a wide grip can also be a potentially dangerous exercise, causing possible injury to your shoulder blade. Using a narrower grip and ensuring a healthy range of motion will protect you against this, but also won't hit the traps as well.
Shrugs are a heavy movement that you can rely on for good development. Which is the best way to perform them? EMG results show that Behind the Back barbell shrugs have the highest muscle recruitment, over dumbbell shrugs and machine assisted shrugs.
And from my own experience, performing Shrugs using a barbell behind the back, I can really feel it hitting my trapezius one. This part of the muscle when developed will make you look like you have a mountain growing on each side of your neck.
Any movement with the weight beginning behind the body will hit the upper traps. Generally, the further behind your back your arms are, or the more of an incline you are on, the higher on the traps it will hit, and the more forward you are behind, such as Bent over barbell shrugs, the lower on the traps it will work.
Anything past parallel, whether it be lying against an incline or bending forward, will emphasize more on fibers 3 and 4. You shouldn't require an exercise to isolate these muscles as they are very well trained in heavy rowing movements.
To place the emphasize on these muscles over the lats, don't lock your arms in by your sides, but let the elbows flair out, and use a wider, overhand grip. But the upper trapezius is where the focus should be at.
Another variation here is incline shrugs using dumbbells. Performed on a medium to high incline, with your hands hanging at your sides similar to incline curls, except you are shrugging, not curling.
You shouldn't only train using behind the back shrugs, because for complete development, you should hit all areas of the muscle. So ultimately, you should perform one movement on an incline and one with the back straight.
Also, for variety, If you are using dumbbells for incline shrugs, then use a barbell for standing shrugs, or vice versa. After 8 weeks, you can swap so you are doing incline barbell shrugs and standing dumbbell shrugs.
Although forearms are synergists to almost all exercises, only wrist curls isolate them for a direct hit. Whether you use dumbbells, barbells or cables, there are two more popular variations - those where the palms face up, training the stronger, inner forearm, and those with the palm down, which train the outer forearm. Using a barbell is the most commonly chosen way of doing wrist curls, but is hardly even done to achieve maximum results.
Firstly, you see too many people positioning their arms on their knees for support. To perform them correctly, sit towards the end of a bench, leaning forward.
Position you lower arms against the bench, either facing up or down, with your wrists as close to the end of the bench as you can, not hanging too far forward. During the movement, make sure you forearms are stay glued to the bench and don't move.
Too many people fail to extend their fingers, and don't roll the barbell down all the way into their fingers, but instead limit the range of motion. When you roll the barbell into your fingers, you feel an extreme stretch and it gives the small, wrist extensors a better workout.
At the top of the rep, just like bicep exercises, you should really squeeze and feel the forearm. After performing 12 reps, my forearms feel extremely heavy and pumped, and look so hard and full. Even when relaxed, my forearms look like they are tensed.
With wrist extensors—where palms face down—I recommend changing your style of training here if you decide to use dumbbells and barbells. It's really difficult to maintain a solid grip throughout the set, even if you decide to go thumb less.
I often feel cramping in the palms. So, use a lighter weight that you can grip, and to make up for the light weight, go very slowly on the eccentric phase, and hold at the top of each rep.
for a count of 2-3 seconds. On the final rep, hold for as long as you can. Sometimes I hold for about 1-1/2 minutes, and feel an incredible burn—and my arms feel so tight!
Alternatively, you can attach a single handed attachment to a low pulley, and do cable wrist extensions. Like barbells, I recommend leaning your forearms against a bench.
Using cables means the grip is much easier to hold, and you'll be surprised at the amount you can lift. With Cable Wrist Flexion, where the palms face up, also like barbells/dumbbells, extend it into your fingers. Doing this, your forearm muscle fibers will be burning and will be crying for growth.
These are 2 routines for each muscle. I've used them all. The forearm routine turned my forearms from twigs to BIGS, and made them more vascular and aesthetic. The trap routine change sculpted my traps into Mini Mount Everest.
You can achieve these results too! Do one workout one week, then the other the following week, and follow this pattern for 12-16 weeks. Then asses your results and make changes to avoid plateau - make sure you continue to follow the general rules when selecting exercises.
It's best to train both muscles towards the end of your workout. Maintain your pump is important, and from experience training forearms in the middle of a high volume workout, I feel I loose my flow of energy.
Variety is the key to a muscles overall development, so I have included 3 exercises for each routine, without exceeding a total of 7 sets.
You can add this trap routine at the end of your shoulder workout. I recommend training them on shoulder day over back, or any other body part because generally shoulders have less volume. To add them to back day wouldn't leave enough energy to complete back exercises.
- Behind-the-back barbell shrugs: 3 sets, 12+ reps
- Lever/Machine Shrugs: 2 sets, 12+ reps
- Dumbbell Shrugs: 2 sets, 12+ reps
- Incline dumbbell shrugs: 3 sets, 12+ reps
- Lying Cable Shrugs (with low pulley): 3 sets, 12+ reps
- Barbell shrugs: 2 sets, 12+ reps
They are commonly trained towards the end of an arm workout, but after such intense bicep/tricep training that both heavily involve the forearms, I find my forearms are too fatigued to train at this time. If you train heavy on back day, the same will apply there. Ideally, you should train forearms with abdominals after cardio. All 3 are highly aerobic in nature and you'll get it all done in the one shot. Try and take as little rest as you can during sets.
Note: Because the amount of repetitions depends a lot on your endurance, aim to train to failure for 12 reps, but if you have the will to do more reps, then do as many as you can. A lot of the time I aim for 12 reps and feel I've trained to failure, yet are still able to push through another 3-4 healthy, non-forced reps at a slower tempo.
- Barbell Wrist Flexion: 3 sets, 12+ reps
- Barbell wrist extensions: 3 sets, 12+ reps
- Cable Wrist Flexion: 3 sets, 15+ reps
- Cable Wrist Extensions: 3 sets, 15+ reps.
Other Forearm Exercises
Make sure you also train the Brachioradialis, but do so on bicep day. A lot of people believe they get enough indirect work through training biceps, but due to the affect this muscle has on your overall size, I choose to have one exercise that isolates them.
Hammer curls are the ultimate Brachioradialis exercise. Another exercise that hits the muscle is a concentration curl using a hammer grip. This combines the "peaking" affect of a concentration curl and the arm-widening affect of training the brac.
It also saves you having to include both concentration curls and hammer curls in your workout, because it has a 2 in 1 affect. Overall it has an incredible peaking affect on the bicep, by heavily training both Brachioradialis and Brachialis, and the long head of the bicep.
Heavy Compound Movements
Heavy compound movements such as the deadlift all begin in the forearms. Ensure you are using heavy, compound movements in your workout.
Deadlifts on back day. If you focus more on lifting the weight with your lower back, rather than using the legs, you will recruit more of the forearm muscles.
Heavy Rowing Movements
Heavy Rowing Movements, particular using free weight. More so than mass builders for the chest, heavy back movements involve the forearms more. If you want size, then this is the way to go.
Include a minimum of two rowing movements in your back movement. Try to ensure both are different in range of motion. Options here are bent over dumbbell or barbell rows, T-bar rows, machine rows and seated low cable rows.
Compound Barbell rows and machine rows would be a good combination in one workout, and alternate in the next with another compound, T-bar rows, with seated cable rows.
If you want to go as heavy as you can without sacrificing form, allow your elbows to flair out more and on seated cable rows, bent forward which involves more of your back muscles, over just the target ones.
Pics Of Forum Members
Two guys with awesome, well developed traps. Just look at the thickness on High intensity, and the shape and hardness of joedon—impressive.
My traps need work so I didn't post pics. I've attatched pics of my forearms below. My forearms aren't the best, but I know they will be!
How Long Until You See Results?
Patience is the key to success. You won't get results overnight, but they will come. Mark your progress to keep yourself on track and motivated. Measure your forearms before your new routine, and continue measuring them every 2-3 weeks.
As you progress, you will notice added size. Also take before photos, and then after photos - or just looking at your progress regularly in the mirror can be motivating.
But remember, that anything takes time, and even if you think nothing seems to work, eventually something will. Just never give up, and through persistence, you'll find what you're looking for - because it's out there somewhere, you just got to go get it.
2nd Place (Tie): ho_124
How To Build Devastating Traps And Forearms
In bodybuilding, developing each muscle is very important. The problem is many people do not put the time into building each muscle properly. For example, many people just work their arms but no their shoulder or they work their upper body neglecting their legs.
As a result, they are disproportionate and look silly. Just picture it a huge upper body on stick legs, yea that's so sexy and sadly that's what many people do. So that is why each muscle must be worked consistently.
The same is with traps and forearms; it wouldn't look good to have large shoulders and small traps or tiny forearms and huge arms. To develop these body parts properly, time and effort must be placed into developing them.
They shouldn't be treated as muscles to be exercised when you "Feel like it" or just to be worked out half-assed. Just imagine working your legs with half the effort.
You won't be maximizing your gains if this happens. Developing these parts are worthwhile because they may help you with other exercises that require these bodyparts (Ex. Bicep curls) or even help you with your Squat.
Imagine if you didn't work your forearms and you loaded up the weight to do oblique side bends, your forearms would probably fail before you could even work your obliques decently. Yea and you will just look like a retard.
Constantly switching exercises for forearms and traps is essential, just like any other body part. I always see too many people doing the same old exercises (forearm and reverse curls and barbell shrugs) even when they switch up their training program.
Forearms and traps should be treated just like any other body part. Especially for forearms. A very common misconception is treating the forearms like a "Sub" muscle or in other words people see the forearms as a smaller inferior muscle that should be trained differently.
This is not true because after all your forearms are still muscles and recover, work and grow like every other muscle, they don't need special treatment.
There is absolutely no science saying that forearms should be trained differently because your forearms are "Special" (Just like how people think doing a thousand sit ups will get them huge abs).
Also changes in exercises will stimulate different muscle fibers as well as prevent your body from adapting to the training. If your body adapts to exercises because you keep doing the same exercises over and over again over a long period, your gains will be diminishing and you may even plateau.
To avoid this, you should use a large range of exercises. Here are some exercises for your forearms and traps:
- Located behind the neck.
- There are basically two parts to your traps. Your upper and lower traps which consist of four muscle fibers two at the top and two at the bottom.
Training Your Trap Muscles
- When training traps, especially with shrugs, I find it effective to squeeze my shoulders with no weight so that when I am doing it with weight, I know how much to contract. I also found it great to hold the contraction at the top for half a second before letting it down.
- Shrugs are the best and only way to isolate the traps. So when training the traps always use a form of shrugs but just not the same ones over and over again. Including any form of shrugs into your program will make sure your traps are given a good workout to maximize your results. For example if you do dumbbell shrugs then when you switch your program start doing behind the back dumbbell shrugs then when you switch it again do machine shrugs. Remember switching your exercises frequently ensures that your body does not plateau because it is getting used to an exercise.
- You should only rely on direct training to give your traps a workout. Don't just rely on rows to workout your traps or they won't grow or get as strong as they should be causing disproportion. You wouldn't just rely on bench press to build your shoulders right? So then don't do it for your traps.
- Using differently kinds of shrugs will lead to full development of the muscle.
Barbell shrugs behind-body.
- Isolates traps very well and is probably the best exercise
Dumbbell shrugs at side of body.
Barbell shrugs in front of body.
- Alternating grip allows you to hold more weight - one hand under grip, one hand over grip).
- Using a special machine to shrug.
- Or you can use a machine bench press and shrug it.
- Or you can use a calf raising machine. The padding on your shoulders is shrugged.
- Bent-over rows using a barbell or dumbbells
- Seated rows
- Low pulley row to neck
- Standing upright row with dumbbells or barbell
- The upward explosion where you pull the weight up works your traps
I find that this routine gave me great gains in size and strength.
Behind the back barbell shrugs
- 3 Sets of 8-12 reps
Front barbell shrugs
- 3 Sets of 8-12 reps
Side dumbbell shrugs
- 3-2 Sets of 8-12 reps
- Between your elbow and your hand (O god if you didn't know this you're a retard and you need a personal trainer).
- There are basically two parts to your forearm, the top and bottom of it. Its just that simple, you don't need to go into every single little detail that's retarded.
Training Your Forearms
Working forearms indirectly from other exercises will not cut it, if you want large forearms. Yea people who think that indirect training is enough are retarded.
Do you think I would be stupid if I said that since I hold a lot of weight when I bicep curl that my legs will be worked out because I use them to stand on while I curl? Although indirect exercises will help, I recommend doing indirect exercises on different days for the forearms.
So don't do bicep curls and forearms on the same day. If you do, you won't be able to handle as much weight as if you have them on separate days. If you for some reason absolutely have to, do your biceps then your forearms.
I usually include forearms with shoulders or legs so then my forearms don't feel like crap when I train them. Here are some of the direct and indirect ways of working the forearms.
Almost any kind of bicep curl will indirectly work the forearm but different kinds of exercises will work different parts of the forearm.
- Works the front forearm
- Works the back part of the forearm (EZ-curl bar can be used)
- Works in between the two forearms
- Forearm dumbbell curls
- Forearm barbell curls
- Wrist roller front forearm facing up
- Reverse forearm dumbbell curls
- Reverse forearm barbell curls
- Olympic-Plate hand squeeze
- Barbell curl behind back
Machines And Cable
- Cable machines can also be used to workout your front and reverse forearms.
I found that this gave me good gains in strength and size.
Front forearm dumbbell curls
- 3 Sets of 8-12 reps
Front forearm curls using a cable machine
- 2 Sets of 8-12 reps
Reverse forearm barbell curls
- 3 Sets of 8-12 reps
Barbell curl behind back
- 2 Sets of 8-12 reps
Sets And Rep Range
The number of sets you perform should be identical to how man sets you do for other exercises. For example I use 3-4 sets for my chest and leg exercises and 2-4 sets for my forearms and traps.
You might be thinking well since the chest and legs are larger than my forearms and traps shouldn't I be doing more sets? Well no, first of all think of it long term.
If I did 5 sets for my chest and legs and I only did 2 sets for my forearms, then the result will be that my forearms are much smaller and not proportional to my chest.
So basically to achieve muscle symmetry where everything looks balance you must perform the same amount sets you use for your other body parts give or take 1 set in certain situations.
So now how many reps? Well this solely depends on your goals. But I find doing 8-12 reps gives me great gains in size and strength (8-12 rep range is for hypertrophy which means muscle growth). This rep range will mostly give you growth in your muscle and not as much strength but you will still make good strength gains.
How Long Will It Take To See Results?
This depends on the person. It differs for all people. Some people will see results earlier than others. One part is genetics. People's bodies are built differently to respond to different things.
Some people's bodies respond well to training and other people's bodies have trouble making gains through weights. But as a general rule to see strength gains it takes about a month and to see visible results about 2-4 months.
Most of all you must stick to your program and work out consistently and to your max. Don't lift half assed and don't workout when you "Feel like it".
2nd Place (Tie): muscleboy333
Building Mountainous Traps, and Freaky Forearms
No physique can be complete without powerful looking forearms. Any top notch bodybuilder has thick, muscular lower arms that look capable of bending steel! And those forearms will have strength to match!
Don't forget massive traps that resemble two softballs on either side of the neck! As you might have already guessed, traps and forearms will be the subject of this article.
Although these two muscles are often overlooked, that doesn't mean you should ignore them! Read this whole article and apply it to get the most out of your forearm and trap training.
When you wear a regular t-shirt, it's not your chest, biceps, triceps or shoulders that are directly showing. It's your forearms! There's something about a strong handshake that instantly earns you respect. Huge forearms will set you apart form the rest of the pack. Think about it, Popeye is just another sailorman without his forearms!
Breakdown of the Forearms
The forearms are quite a complex muscle. There are many smaller muscles inside the forearms with different functions.
There are loads of exercises that you can choose from to build your forearms. I've compiled a list of the most effective ones. Visit the links under some of the exercises to see a detailed description of them. They can be divided into three basic categories:
- Wrist Curls
- Reverse Wrist Curls
- Wrist Rollers
- Behind the Back Wrist Curls
- Hammer Curls
- Reverse Barbell Curl
- Static Holds and Hangs These are two great grip exercises. For static holds, simply hold the bar in front of you, like the top of a deadlift for as long as you can with heavy weights. 10-15 seconds works well here. As for static hands, you hang from a pull-up bar with a heavy plate attached to you with a dipping belt. No straps here, of course.
- Hand Grippers
- Farmer's Walk
Indirect Grip Strength
Don't underestimate these!
- Any other exercises which involve you supporting a lot of weight with your hands
Make Your Own Wrist Roller
In case you're wondering what a wrist roller is, it's a homemade piece of equipment that will have your forearms burning like none other! You can make your own homemade wrist roller by following these instructions.
- Take a strong, thick piece of wood or a large stick.
- Drill a hole in the middle of it, and stick a length of rope through the hole.
- Tie the rope around the wood, and on the other end of the rope, put a heavy plate.
- Wind the rope over the stick once.
- Now, using only your hands quickly turn the stick towards you.
- The plate on the other end of the rope will rise up.
- Keep doing this until the plate touches the stick, then turn the stick the other way until it lowers again.
If you don't have any hand grippers, you should buy some. They are a great investment!
The great thing about these grippers is that they have adjustable resistance, meaning you can progress with them like any other exercise.
You might be thinking, "I can't do all those exercises!" Luckily, you don't need to do all of them. All of these exercises are effective though, so pick a few that you like and work hard at them!
Someone who can wrist curl 200 pounds, or hold 600 pounds in a static hold will not have scrawny forearms. Remember this: As your forearms and grip strengthen, they will grow! Focus on adding weight as often as possible.
Forearms respond quite well to a variety of rep ranges. You should incorporate some heavy work (4-8) reps, as well as some higher reps (8-15). Forearms also generally respond well to a slightly higher frequency of training, so they should be trained twice a week.
A good idea would be to have two forearm routines and rotate them. You could even do forearm size training one day, and grip training the next forearm day. Here are a few sample forearm routines you could use. The 'A' routines are the size days, the 'B' routines are for grip:
Forearm Routine A: (Tuesday)
- Hammer Curls: 2 sets of 4-8 reps
- Wrist Curls: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
- Reverse Wrist Curls: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
Forearm Routine B: (Friday)
- Barbell Static Holds: 3 sets of 10-15 seconds
- Hand Grippers: 2 sets to failure, remember to switch hands
- Wrist Rolling: 2 sets of 5 reps
These two routines would be rotated twice a week. Since forearms are a relatively small muscle group in the grand scheme of things, they don't need their own day to be trained on. Work them in after back or biceps.
Another sample routine could be:
Forearm Routine A: (Wednesday)
- Reverse Barbell Curls: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
- Behind-the-Back Wrist Curls: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Wrist Curls: 2 sets of 10-15 reps
Forearm Routine B: (Sunday)
- Static Hangs from chin-up bar: 3 sets of 10-15 seconds
- Farmer's Walks: 3 sets of 30 seconds
These are just examples. You should customize your routine to meet your schedule, exercise preferences and genetics. You might need a bit more volume; others might need a bit less. Find out exactly what works for you!
The Forgotten Forearm Exercise
One of the best forearm exercises doesn't even happen to be featured in these routines. That's because it's not just a forearm specific exercise, it primarily works back and legs! Yes, I'm talking about deadlifts.
Throw Out the Straps!
For a few of your heavy sets of deadlifts every back day, throw out those straps! Use chalk instead. Doing this, your forearm size and grip strength will skyrocket!
Also, on all chinups and pull-ups you should eliminate straps. You'll be surprised how much this helps! Strap free deadlifts and weighted chins can absolutely rival any other grip exercises.
A combination of specific forearm size training, grip training, and heavy strap free work on other exercises will have you sporting a pair of beefy, strong forearms after only a short time!
Generally, after someone works hard on their forearms with basic principles like the ones outlined above, they can see some impressive results after only 4 weeks! And it's only uphill from there.
IronMind's Captains Of Crush Grippers!
No doubt once your grip is very strong, you'll want to take all possible opportunities to show it off! If you've progressed past the hand grippers mentioned above, and your strength has increased by quite a bit, take the ultimate challenge and try to close some of the IronMind's Captains of Crush grippers!
Bear in mind, these are immensely difficult, so try the #1 gripper first. This is the easiest one, but it still requires 140 pounds of force to close! Give it a shot and see how you fare! The Captains of Crush #2 gripper is even harder, so if you're successful with the #1 you can work up to this.
The #3 gripper has only been closed by 12 people in the world, and the #4 has been closed by a handful! If you think you're up for it, you can become a certified grip master by IronMind.
Be Intimidating With a Thick Neck!
Traps are another commonly overlooked muscle group. Which is unfortunate, as the people who neglect their traps are missing out on another body part that can be shown off 24/7 with clothes on! When someone sees a man with a powerfully muscled neck, they'll definitely think twice about messing with him.
The trapezius is a fairly large, diamond shaped muscle that lies just below neck level, by the upper back. Its function is to move your shoulder blades upwards.
Now, let's move on to some trap training techniques.
Trap training is quite simple, but that does not make it easy. The best trap exercises can be divided into direct training, and indirect training.
Direct Trap Exercises
- Barbell Shrugs
- Dumbbell Shrugs
- Behind the Back Shrugs
- Upright Rows
- Farmer's Walk
- Most other heavy exercises with a weight held in your hands
Pretty basic. Traps respond well to hard and heavy work, and not so much to higher reps. 6-8 reps will work well. You should work them twice a week as well.
Yeah, deadlifts again! You can make conventional deadlifts much more effective by simply trying to do a little shrug at the top of every rep. Your traps will be screaming for mercy by the end of the set. As for farmer's walk, you should hold the dumbbells at the top of a shrug position as you carry them and they will hit your traps very hard as well.
I included upright rows in the exercise list, because I think they can be a great exercise if you can handle them. However, many people notice rotator cuff pain while doing them, or have injured their shoulders. Try them out, and if you can do them safely and without rotator cuff pain you should definitely include them in your routine!
Traps don't need their own day either, so you should hit them after another muscle group. A few heavy sets of any type of shrugs should do the trick for the direct work. Farmer's walks, deadlifts and other indirect exercises will be done with other muscle groups, so they won't be included with your direct trap training.
Here's a sample routine:
- Barbell Shrugs: 1 set of 8 reps, 10 seconds rest
- Dumbbell Shrugs: 1 sets of 8 reps, 1 minute rest
- Barbell Shrugs: 1 sets of 6 reps, 10 seconds rest
- Dumbbell Shrugs: 1 sets of 6 reps
Here's a different routine, if you can do upright rows:
- Upright Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps
- Behind-the-Back Shrugs: 3 sets of 6 reps
That's all! Looks easy enough on paper, but give it a try and you will get an incredible trap workout, trust me. Depending on your genetics, you should see noticeable gains in your traps after around 4 weeks.
But don't be discouraged when your traps don't explode into mountains overnight. On the contrary, they will slowly but surely increase in size and strength, and eventually, when you've put in enough time and effort, you will have champion sized traps.
Be sure you're progressing the weight of all your exercises consistently! Always try to add at least 5 pounds a week to every exercise, and more if you can handle it. While 5 pounds doesn't sound like much, it adds up over time.
After only 6 weeks you're lifting 30 pounds more than you used to! After 24 weeks, your shrugs can go from 150 pounds to 270 pounds! Big strength gains will result in big muscle gains.
Now you know all the necessary keys to get those massive forearms and traps we all want! Don't let this information go to waste.
Remember to support your efforts in the gym with solid nutrition and rest. You won't get anywhere without your protein, so constantly supply your body nutrients every 2-3 hours. A good diet is even more important than your training, so never slack off on the eating. Start with 18-20 times your bodyweight in calories, and divide that with the appropriate ratios of carbs, proteins, and fats. If you gain less than a pound a week, you may want to add some more food. If you're gaining more than a pound and a half a week, you should cut back a bit.
Finally, to finish things off I'll remind you again to always strive to beat your logbook. This is very important! If everyone always pushed to do more than their last workout, the world would have a lot more big people. Get those weights up! A saying I like is "Big weights make big people". So work hard, eat lots and I'm sure you will be pleased with the results.
Good luck everyone!
- "Physiology of the Muscle", Big Cat [ online ]
- "Physiology of the Muscle", Big Cat [ online ]
- exrx.net [ online ]
- exrx.net [ online ]
- exrx.net [ online ]
- exrx.net [ online ]
- exrx.net [ online ]
- exrx.net [ online ]
- exrx.net [ online ]
- www.ironmind.com [ online ]
3rd Place (Tie) - chewwy
The traps, more formally known as the Trapezoids muscles, are one of the iconic muscles associated with a true bodybuilder. Nothing screams 'beast!' like a set of traps rising up through a shirt, overshadowing a neck as they support the head. However, there is more to the traps than these well documented peaks.
When you discuss traps, most people think of the upper trapezius between the shoulder and neck. The muscle fibres stretch from the clavicle to the spine and skull, and this part of the muscle is used in elevation of the scapula—the shrugging movement. Hence it should come as no surprise that the secret to building huge upper traps is shrugs.
Though there are many variations to the movement, the basic idea of a shrug is to bring your shoulders up, as if you are trying to get them to touch your ears. Standing in front of a mirror while shrugging helps you to get the correct movement. As with all exercises, use a full range of motion for every reach, keep your head facing directly forwards, and try and get that mind-muscle-connection so that you can isolate the traps. Personally, I prefer standard barbell shrugs. Take a barbell, load up some weight, pick it up with a straight back and lean slightly forwards, just so much that the barbell does not rub against your legs and the "meatiest" part of the traps is directly above the weight. Lift as mentioned above.
How much weight you should be lifting is a difficult question. The traps support your arms all day long, and so are endurance muscles. Hence we have the same problem as with the stubborn calves.
Some would advocate high reps, while other would urge you to lift heavy, and for fewer reps. My philosophy is that all muscles are multi-facetted, and require regular variation in their training to promote maximal growth. So, switch things around.
The other exercise notorious for giving the traps a good workout is the deadlift. Here the traps are required to support the arms as they hold the weight.
Since the deadlift is commonly the biggest lift a bodybuilder does, the traps are hit with some heavy weight in this exercise, and so it may be advisable to work traps in conjunction with the rest of the back on back day, using heavy deadlifts and then shrugs with higher reps afterwards.
This way the traps are initially hit hard, and then exhausted as you go to failure on shrugs, incurring maximum muscle damage, hence maximum growth as you recover.
Another exercise you may want to look into is the upright row, though this exercise regularly receives bad press due to it being linked to rotator cuff injury, which, as mentioned above, is not good at all.
Middle And Lower Traps
We normally consider the middle and lower traps as being part of the middle back, and you might not think it necessary to work these specifically when you are aiming for big upper traps. However, just as you won't have maximal size on the upper chest without a large and strong lower chest, the same is true of the traps. Remember, the traps are very much the rear equivalent of the chest.
These muscles are worked well in rowing movements, and in pullups/chinups. Look carefully at the picture above, and then try and establish a mind-muscle connection to really control the muscle and movement of the scapula. Just as I preach for everything else, vary the weights and reps regularly, and switch between dumbbell and barbell exercises to keep the muscle guessing and growing.
And that's it for the traps. Treat the traps as part of your back, indeed the core muscle in the upper part, and not just those funny things besides your neck. A good back day will include deadlifts, rows, pull-ups and shrugs, all of which will hit the traps, and with good nutrition and rest super-size them!
Ah, the forearms. The most easily observed muscle group in everyday life, and one of the most useful—both in supplying us with essential dexterous abilities, and allowing me to judge a person's character at a glance.
Huge, defined and vascular forearms indicate a hard-working, hardcore individual, while everything else doesn't. The guy who can lug sandbags around all day will have colossal forearms, while the "pretty-boy" fitness model type, despite his chiseled abs and broad chest, will be left lacking in the forearms department.
The multitude of muscles in the forearm controls the movement of the fingers and wrist. In doing so they are used constantly throughout the day and in the gym to grip and stabilize weight.
The image above shows the main muscles in the forearm. The Flexor carpi radialis, Flexor carpi ulnaris and Palmaris longus are responsible for the flexion (bending inwards) of the hand at the wrist, while the Extensor carpi radialis longus, Extensor carpi radialis brevis and Extensor carpi ulnaris are responsible for the extension.
Not shown in the diagram are the smaller Flexor digitorum superficialis and Flexor digitorum profundus—responsible for the flexion of the fingers, and the extensor digitorum, responsible for the extension.
Finally, there is the Pronator Teres and Pronator quadratus, which rotate (pronateÃ¢â‚¬Â¦) the forearms and wrist. This plethora of muscles allows us to create fantastically defined forearms when they are grown and body fat is cut down. There's also a vast network of superficial veins on the inner forearms, going up to the cephalic and basilic vein in the upper arm, allowing for crazy vascularity to be developed as well.
Just as with the calves, and as mentioned above the traps, we have the problem of the forearms being 'endurance muscles', which are used all day. And, as with traps again, people often argue that they are worked enough indirectly in other compound exercise, and don't need to be isolated.
It can't be denied that the forearms are used in pretty much every upper body free weights exercise, and so are worked often in this way. So, we'll assume if your forearms aren't growing that they are getting enough volume, and what they need to grow is some direct, heavy work.
Remember, even if you aren't particularly bothered about getting size on your forearms at the moment, strength gains will allow you to more effectively target the desired muscle in other exercises, as problems about grip and wrist strength become a thing of the past.
There are several direct forearm exercises to choose from, and being realistic you should choose two or three of them to incorporate into your routine, considering you have the rest of your body to work as well. I would recommend working forearms at the end of your workout, since you don't want your grip strength limited for other exercises.
Wrist curls, in their many shapes and forms, are very much the forearm equivalents of the concentration curl and skull crusher. As with every exercise, go through the full range of motion, and keep it slow. Since we're trying to blast the forearms, keep the reps low and the weight high. 3 sets of 6-8 reps for each set of forearm muscles (the flexors and extensors) should do the trick, and if you've never directly targeted the forearms before, you should expect to see some size and strength gains before long.
There are also grippers on the market, which can be purchased from bodybuilding.com also, which work your gripping strength, and come in all levels of resistance from easy to literally impossible. The advantage of using a gripper is that it can be used anywhere, at any time. So if your workout is long enough without extra forearm work, you could invest in some grippers. A gym-based equivalent of this exercise is plate pinching, where you attempt to gold onto weight plates by your fingertips for a set amount of time. It may not be advisable to go to your piano lesson straight after a few sets of these—you won't be playing many notes...
Alternatively you could try putting more focus on your forearms in your current routine. For example, when curling, reverse your grip so that your palm is facing away from you. This should give the extensor muscles on the posterior side of the forearm a good working, as well as targeting slightly different muscle fibres in the biceps, hence incurring more growth.
And so I conclude forearm training. The forearms are like any other muscle, and simply require varied exercise, food and rest to grow. Whether you decide to change your approach to training forearms after reading this article is up to you, but hopefully I've at least convinced you of the importance of the forearms, and educated you a little bit into their structure and processes.
Remember what the great man Arnold Schwarzenegger himself once said, "An educated bodybuilder is a huge, ripped, vascular monster of a bodybuilder!"
Ok, maybe he never said that. But he should have.
- Gray's Anatomy
- Bodybuilding.com - anatomical pictures