Popeye forearms are impressive, but they don’t necessarily benefit athletes who uses their grip for strength and power. Forearm workouts can, however, benefit athletes who use their grip to hold an object—baseball players, tennis players, rock climbers, powerlifters, and even martial artists require a balance on both sides of their forearms for strength and power, and to reduce injuries such as tendonitis.
Overworking the flexor muscles and neglecting the extensor muscles can cause an imbalance, which can set up an athlete for potential elbow and wrist pain. Incorporating forearm workouts into a training program will develop grip strength for faster bat speed, a more powerful backhand, faster climbing speeds, heavier Deadlifts and better grappling ability.
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One of the best tools for developing this balance in the forearm muscles is a bucket filled with rice. This method works the forearm muscles in every direction the wrist and fingers can move. Two movements in particular are supination (palms up) and pronation (palms down), which can’t be loaded any other way. Resistance is consistent through the entire range of motion, because the rice covers a large surface area and provides 360 degrees of resistance. Most other exercises use gravity or tubing, which changes the resistance profile of the exercise throughout the range of motion.
Perform these movements in the rice for 10 reps each. Do this routine at the end of a workout three days a week. Every week, add 5 reps and build up to 30 reps. Once you get to 30 reps, increase the speed of each movement.
Rice Bucket Forearm Exercises
- Fingers into rice, grab handfuls
- Fists into rice, open hands
- Fists into rice, move side to side
- Fists into rice, move forward and backward
- Fingers into rice , palms toward you – grab a handful, then rotate palms away from you
- Fingers into rice , palms away from you – grab a handful, then rotate palms toward you
- Palms flat on surface of rice, grab handfuls
- Thumb and finger tips together into rice, open hand
- Palms flat on surface of rice, claw rice with thumbs and straight fingers
The Forearm Roll-Up, using a rope, rod and weighted plate, builds grip strength and endurance on both sides of the forearm. This is critical for athletes, because the ability to resist fatigue enhances performance. Holding your arms at shoulder height works your shoulders as well, but it limits the amount of weight you can work with. Keeping your hands at waist level allows for more weight to be used and develops greater forearm strength.
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Forearm Roll-Up Exercises
Shoulder height: Using a rod, rope and plate, hold the rod at shoulder height and turn your hands away from you (flexion, rolling the rope around the rod). Then turn your hands toward you (extension, lowering the weight). Continue in extension to wrap the rope around the rod, then reverse in flexion to lower the weight. Keep the rod parallel to ensure you work your forearms to the max.
Waist height: Stand on a box to compensate for the length of rope. Repeat the same movements with a heavier plate.
Waist high- Days 1 & 3
Shoulder high- Days 5 & 7
||25 lbs., 4 sets x 1 round (Perform two sets of flexion and two sets of extension)
||10-15 lbs.,4 sets x 3 rounds (Perform two sets of flexion and two sets of extension)
||25 4 x 2
||10-15 4 x 4
||25 4 x 3
||15 4 x 5
||27.5 4 x 1
||17.5 4 x 3
||27.5 4 x 2
||17.5 4 x 4
||27.5 4 x 3
||17.5 4 x 5
||30 4 x 1
||20 4 x 3
Farmer’s Walks build grip endurance, while also working the core and shoulders. Hold any heavy objects—dumbbells, kettlebells or bars—at your sides, walk a specific distance or time, and repeat. Keep the distance short, around 10 yards, and turn around to make this exercise more challenging. Continue to walk 10 yards until you have reached your distance goal. Wrap a towel around the handles to enlarge the grip and make your forearms burn even more. Here is a progressive eight-week plan.
RELATED: Grip and Rip With Rice Bucket Hand-Strengthening Exercises
Farmer’s Walk Without Towel (left) and With Towel (right)
|2 x 30 yards (increase weight each week by 10-20 pounds) Rest 60-90 seconds between sets
|3 x 30 yards (use heaviest weight from week 3) Rest 45-60 seconds between sets
|3 x 40 yards (same weight wrap towel over handle) Rest 30-45 seconds between sets
||4 x max distance (use 10-20lbs heavier than week 3) Rest 90 seconds between sets
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