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You can try to train until your biceps burst out of every shirt in your closet, but if your grip strength is lacking, you’re not going to be able to move much weight.
You don’t necessarily need to program in a ton of extra forearm-targeted exercises to get that lower arm work, though. Men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel believes that you can get all the forearm gains you need by lifting with a concentrated purpose — and by switching up the actual objects you’re picking up and putting down.
“The most organic way to develop forearm size and strength is to grip with intent on all your pulling exercises,” says Samuel. “One way to do that while training arms is to use implements that force you to grip with intent.”
That means changing the way you move your dumbbells, gripping plates on their own instead of loading them onto barbells, and using your hand towel to do more than just sop up your sweat.
The workout above will give you a shot at honing your forearms while you curl your way to cannonball biceps. You’ll need dumbbells, kettlebells, a towel, plates, and an adjustable bench, so this routine is probably best suited for the gym. Cycle through each video slide to learn how to master each move.
The Biceps and Forearms Grip and Rip Workout
Tall Kneeling Halfway Pause-and-Rotate Biceps Curls
Video slide 2; 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Kneel on the ground, holding a pair of dumbbells.
- Curl up with your right arm, squeezing your bicep at the top.
- As you lower the weight, pause once your elbow is at a 90-degree angle.
- Keeping your elbow locked, rotate your wrist in toward your body, then back out.
- Lower the weight down to the starting position.
- Repeat with the opposite hand.
As you perform the curls, Samuel says that your main focus should be on squeezing the dumbbells as tightly as possible. This will make your work harder, so don’t feel pressed to lift heavy. “These are harder than they look, so take about 5 or 10 pounds off your normal curl,” he advises.
Towel Hammer Curls
Video slide 3; 3 sets of 12 reps
- Grab a hand towel and wrap it around the handles of a kettlebell’s handle.
- Hold the ends of the towel in each hand, gripping tightly with your palms parallel to each other.
- Squeeze your biceps to curl the kettlebell straight up, then control the weight back down.
Keeping the towel from slipping out of your hands is a challenge in itself — but don’t use that as an excuse to lose your good lifting form. “Stay disciplined on the curl,”Samuel says. “Try to keep those upper arms as perpendicular to the ground as possible.”
Video slide 4
Combo Spider Curls
3 sets of 12 reps per arm
- Set up an adjustable bench to a high incline. Stand facing forward holding one dumbbell, resting your chest on the back rest.
- Perform 2 bicep curls, squeezing your bicep to lift the weight with your wrist facing outward.
- Perform 2 hammer curls, squeezing your bicep to lift the weight with your wrist facing inward.
- Repeat the cycle for 12 total reps for each arm.
- Hold the plate as near to the top as possible with an overhand grip.
- Curl the plate straight up, squeezing your biceps to the top of your chest.
- Rep through curls until failure.
“Your goal is to grip the plate as high as possible so your fingers really have to squeeze and work on every rep,” says Samuel.
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