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Close up of muscular man's forearms

13 Best Forearm Workouts and Exercises

The forearms are the gateway to strength, and that’s why we’ve carefully curated a selection of the most effective forearm workouts and exercises. While we often focus a wealth of attention on growing bulging biceps and six-pack abs, the simple fact of the matter is that significant carrying strength is concentrated in the forearm muscles. On that note, here are the 13 best forearm workouts and exercises you’ll need to become a proper strongman.

Best Forearm Workouts and Exercises for Men

Here is a list of the 13 best forearm workouts and exercises for mass. Remember that if you feel persistent pain in the arms or wrists while doing these exercises, especially sharp pain in the elbow or wrist joints, stop and seek guidance from a physiotherapist or other health expert.

1. Dumbbell Wrist Flexion

While this may be a simple movement, the Dumbbell Wrist Flexion is a huge addition to any forearm workout. The motion helps target and strengthen your wrist flexors, which are crucial in building grip strength. To accurately perform a Dumbbell Wrist Flexion;

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench holding a dumbbell in your right hand.
  2. Place your right forearm on your right thigh, with the back of your right wrist on top of your right kneecap.
  3. Concentrating on isolating just your hand, slowly lower the dumbbell as far as you can, maintaining a tight grip throughout the movement.
  4. Without lifting your arm off of your thigh, curl the dumbbell toward your bicep.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbell back to neutral.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Reps: Until failure

2. Dumbbell Wrist Extension

This forearm exercise is essentially the inverse action of the previous. The subtle change allows you to target your wrist extensor muscles, helping to build forearm muscles and strength. Like Dumbbell Wrist Flexion, this is an isolation exercise that only targets one small muscle group — so it’s better to sprinkle it around other exercises in your workout routine, rather than fixating on it constantly. To perform a Dumbbell Wrist Extension accurately;

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench holding a dumbbell in your right hand.
  2. Place your right forearm on your right thigh, palm down, with your right wrist on top of your right kneecap.
  3. Concentrating on isolating just your hand, curl the dumbbell up as far as you can towards your bicep, maintaining a tight grip throughout the movement.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbell back to neutral.
  5. Repeat on other side.

Reps: Until failure

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3. Reverse Curl

The barbell curl may already be a staple in your workout arsenal, but simply flipping the bar can have a huge impact on the overall shape of your upper body. Reverse Curl is one of the best forearm workouts you can do, increasing blood flow and helping to build strength in an often under-utilised muscle group. Try not to let your ego get the better of you; it pays to go light on these ones. To perform a Reverse Curl correctly;

  1. Grasp the bar overhand at shoulder width with palms facing downward.
  2. Keeping your upper arms against your sides, slowly curl the bar.
  3. When the top of your hands reach your front delts, squeeze
  4. Slowly lower the bar back to starting position, keeping tension.

Reps: 3 sets of 10-12

4. Hammer Curl

While primarily a bicep exercise, the Hammer Curl is a compound exercise that allows you to concentrate lower arm muscles through a contraction. Not only is the Hammer Curl one of the best forearm muscle exercises, it’s one you should be adding to all your arm routines. To perform a Hammer Curl;

  1. Stand upright and grip two dumbbells at the side of the body with the arms straight and palms facing your torso.
  2. Raise one dumbbell until the forearm is vertical and the thumb faces the shoulder. Hold the movement for one moment and squeeze the biceps.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbell to starting position and repeat with other arms.

Reps: 3 sets of 10-12

5. Zottman Curl

A compound movement, the Zottman Curl is just about the best workouts you can perform to increase forearm muscle strength. To complete a Zottman Curl effectively;

  1. Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your sides.
  2. Curl the weights, keeping your upper arms in place.
  3. While lifting the dumbbells, rotate your palms to face your biceps in the top position.
  4. Turn your palms to face down.
  5. Lower the weights slowly, as in a reverse curl.
  6. Repeat

Reps: 3 sets of 10-12

6. Farmer’s Walk

One of the most basic forearm exercises on the block, the Farmer’s Walk is likely one you have performed unintentionally. The move builds the wrist and finger flexors, whilst also working to engage a wealth of other muscles in your body. Use this one to up the number of groceries you can carry. To perform a Farmer’s Walk accurately;

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of heavy dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in.
  2. Walk in a straight line with your shoulders engaged, keeping your core and glutes engaged and your spine straight.
  3. Repeat.

Reps: 10 sets of 12-15 steps

7. Chin-Up

A list of forearm muscle exercises is not complete without the humble Chin-Up. The complex movement works out a number of muscle groups in succession, with a strong emphasis on your flexors. This is one of the best forearm exercises at home. To perform a Chin-Up correctly;

  1. Grasp the bar with hands shoulder-width and palms facing you.
  2. Engaging your core, pull yourself up by contracting your shoulder blades together.
  3. Keep pulling until your chin is over the bar.
  4. Hold at the top, being careful that your shoulders are pulled down your back and not hunched around your ears.
  5. Slowly lower yourself to starting position.
  6. Repeat

If you can’t yet perform a Chin-Up without assistance, use a machine or a resistance band to build strength.

Reps: 3 sets of 8

8. Pull-Up Bar Hang

By far the most simple of the forearm exercises on this list, the Pull-Up Bar Hang is a great bodyweight workout element that will engage your core and boost those lower arm muscles. Specifically, this movement helps to build your wrist and finger flexors. You can even perform this forearm exercise at home. To perform a Pull-Up Bar Hang effectively;

  1. Standing beneath a pull-up bar, reach up and clutch the bar with a shoulder-width grip, palms facing forward.
  2. Raise your legs from the ground.
  3. Hang at arm’s length for 30 seconds with your arms straight and your ankles crossed behind you.
  4. Repeat.

Reps: 5 sets of 30 seconds (or until failure, if you can’t yet get to 30 seconds)

9. Towel Pull-Up Bar Hang

While almost the exact same movement as the Pull-Up Bar Hang, this variation allows you to target your wrist adductors. To perform Towel Pull-Up Bar Hang accurately;

  1. Drape two towels, shoulder-width apart, over a bar.
  2. Reach up and grasp a towel in each hand with a tight grip.
  3. Engage your core and lift your feet off the floor, hanging with your ankles crossed behind you for as long as you can.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat

Reps: 5 sets of 30 seconds (or until failure, if you can’t yet get to 30 seconds)

10. Behind-the-Back Cable Curl

Another forearm exercise that promotes blood flow through brachioradialis contraction, the Behind-the-back Cable Curl will require some setup but it is worth it. The movement is similar to a standard curl, however, it starts from an over-directed position, meaning you emphasise that elbow contraction for greater forearm engagement. To perform a Behind-the-back Cable Curl effectively;

  1. Attach a D-handle to the low pulley of a cable machine
  2. Grasp the handle in your left hand
  3. Take a large step forward, ensuring there is tension on the cable and your arm is drawn slightly behind your body.
  4. Curl the handle but do not allow your elbow to point forward.

Reps: 3 sets of 8-10

11. EZ-Bar Preacher Curl

While you might already have this one firmly ingrained in your bicep workout, the EZ-Bar Preacher Curl also makes for a handy addition to your best forearm workout regime. The contraction of the elbow adds tension along with the primary muscle groups in the lower arm, allowing you to build mass and gain muscle. To perform the EZ-Bar Preacher Curl correctly;

  1. Sit at a preacher bench and grasp an EZ-curl bar at shoulder width with arms extended.
  2. Keeping a slight bend in your elbow, curl the bar, keeping the backs of your arms against the bench.
  3. Flex at the top.
  4. Slowly lower the bar back to starting position.
  5. Repeat

Reps: 3 sets of 8-10

12. Towel Cable Row

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’d be right. Using a towel over dumbbells or handles accentuates the tension on your wrists, increasing the intensity of the strain on the forearms. In this instance, the Towel Cable Row is a great example of how to work both your back and forearm muscles simultaneously. To perform a Towel Cable Row accurately;

  1. Hook a towel to a cable pulley and stand in front of it.
  2. Bend slightly at the knees, keeping your back upright.
  3. Holding an end of the towel in each hand, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  4. Pull the towel towards you in a rowing motion.

Reps: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

13. Crab Walk

It may seem a little awkward and counterproductive, but the Crab Walk is a great forearm exercise for mass growth. To perform a Crab Walk accurately;

  1. Sit on the ground, facing upwards.
  2. Bridge up with your hips so you are on all fours.
  3. Walk forward on your hands and feet as fast as you can.

Reps: 10 steps forward, 10 steps backwards.

Forearm muscles diagram
Forearm Muscles Diagram | Image: Alila Medical Media

What are Your Forearms?

In the region of the upper limb between the elbow and the wrist, your forearms contain two long bones: the radius and the ulna. These bones join to form the radioulnar joint which is joined by the interosseous membrane.

Forearm muscles

Your forearm muscles are made up of several small groups, including the flexors and extensors of the digits. Additionally, your lower arms also include the flexor of the elbow (brachioradialis), pronators and supinators that turn the hand to face up or down.

The posterior compartment contains the extensors of the hands, which are supplied by the radial nerve. The anterior compartment, however, contains the flexors and is mainly supplied by the median nerve.


The two main arteries found in the forearms are the radial and ulnar arteries. The function of these is to supply blood to the forearm. These usually run on the anterior face of the radius and ulna down the whole forearm.

Two different images of Sylvester Stallone side by side showing his big forearms
Sylvester Stallone | Image: PCN & FNP

Examples of Celebrities with Great Forearms

Take Sylvester Stallone for instance. The Rambo actor is reportedly “obsessed” with his forearms, particularly during shoots. Several of his staff members have reported that the notoriously ripped actor carries a gaffer’s grip on him at all times on set to get a quick forearm workout in. The huge, clamp-like apparatus is used to hold heavy light fittings and fixtures but also works as a make-shift forearm squeeze tool. According to the rumours, before he shoots any of his scenes, Stallone uses a rotating weight bar and wrist curls, before going to town with the gaffer’s grips. Stallone reportedly busts out sets of 50 reps or more, leaving him with an insane pump, that showcases near-bursting veins.

While that may sound excessive, there are methods to Stallone’s madness. Increasing the blood flow in your arms through vigorous forearm exercises will rapidly bring your veins to the surface, creating a more vascular and lean appearance. While we don’t recommend walking around with a gaffer’s grip clamp in your pocket like Sly, dropping a few of the best forearm workouts and exercise into your regime is a great place to start. But before we dive into the ultimate forearm training, we should check off the basics.

Close up on big forearms gripping a barbell

Why it’s Important to Train Your Forearms

The lower half of your arm is an area that holds much tension, providing the avenue between your hands and your upper arm. This link is important when it comes to lifting heavy objects as it performs the majority of the resistance control. Aside from helping with everyday lifting tasks, your forearm muscles play an important role in your overall appearance — not to mention that a strong grip is linked to a longer lifespan.

Having vascular, thick forearms is an obvious sign of functional strength that separates gym junkies from true strongmen. It’s also the first thing about your body that people notice. While almost all other elements, with the exclusion of the head and lower legs, are concealed under clothes, it’s common practice to have your forearms visible. For this reason, your forearms say a lot about you as a gym junkie.

Alternatives to Shoulder Exercises

If you are a fitness fanatic looking to bolster your workout routines, don’t stop at shoulder exercises. Below, you’ll find a range of workouts and guides to help you build size and strength.

You’ll also like:
Best Shoulder Exercises for Men
Best Calf Exercises and Workouts for Men

Forearm Exercises FAQs

What is the best exercise for forearm growth?

Farmers Walk is one of the best forearm exercise you can perform. The exercises offers continuous engagement of the main muscle groups in the lower arm.

Why are strong forearms important?

Having strength in your forearms is important as it aids in grip strength and general upper body strength.

Can you grow muscle in your forearms?

There are a number of dedicated forearm exercises, however, many arm workouts also involved forearm activation.

Last medically reviewed on 19 June 2022