The PERFECT Forearm Workout (Sets and Reps Included)

The PERFECT Forearm Workout (Sets and Reps Included)

What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today we’re talking about the forearms and
we’re going to construct the perfect forearm workout. As always, we’re using science and anatomy
to backup what we do. If you want to put the science back into strength
it takes one look at the forearms to realize there’s a lot going on here. There are a lot of muscles interplaying to
create the different actions of the forearm. It’s not just about wrist curls and wrist
extensions. As a matter of fact, if you’re doing your
wrist curls like this, and your wrist extension like this, you’re leaving some gains on
the table. I’m going to show you what you can do to
improve those actions. Then, of course, you’ve got to add to them. Why? Because there are different functions here
of the forearm. You could see that just by creating different
movements of the wrist I could activate different areas of the forearm itself. If I did this – this is called owner deviation
– you can see there are different areas of the forearm that work to create that. Same thing here. If I were to go in the opposite direction,
radial deviation, you can see a distinct area of the forearm that creates that action. We can also see if I involve just my wrist,
I get a certain level of activation in the forearm, but if I start to involve the finger
flexors there is a whole other level of activity that goes on. If we go here, into pronation, we can see
that we get a response on a certain area of the forearm. Why are we focusing on a couple of motions
when we have to include all of them? I’m going to make it simple for you, guys. I’m going to include all the things we need
to do in the right amount, and we’re going to walk you through it step by step. So, let me take you through each of the exercises. And as always, in our perfect workouts I’m
going to give you the sets and reps to do the entire workout at the end. Let’s start to construct this perfect forearm
workout. we’re going to start with these wrist curls
and what to do instead because I know I’ve probably raised some eyebrows when I said
that this wasn’t necessarily optimal. Doing your curls like this. There’s a reason for that. There are actually two. The first is that we know when we start to
fatigue that our bodies are masters of compensation. They’re going to find a way to perform the
movement, even if it’s not necessarily the way you want to perform it. So, if you start to fatigue and lose the ability
to curl your wrist up, guess what happens? Your biceps are in a perfect position to take
over. It’s not what we’re looking for when we’re
trying to build bigger forearms. The biceps are just trying to raise the bar
up to do the job the forearms can’t do. You might say to yourself “Well, I’ve
heard that if I go behind my back, I could take the biceps out of it and we can curl
and perform these the right way.” Not necessarily, guys. You might even say if I go down to the bench
– and I’ve done tons of these – that this is better, too. You can see the biceps are taken out of it
here as well. So, I’m on the right track. Guys, you might be on the right track, but
you’re on the right train because this is not necessarily fixing the bigger issue here. The bigger issue is: what happens in all of
these gravity loaded exercises and variations of the forearm curl? We’re allowing, as we start to fatigue,
the bar – maybe even purposely – allowing the bar to sink down into these distal fingers
of ours. All the way down to the distal metacarpals. That is a lot of load and I put an entire
video on how that is the number one cause of medial elbow pain that we deal with. It’s how we grip the bar, it’s how we
grip bars during rows. But when we do forearm work it gets magnified
because we tend to train our forearms more regularly throughout the week. Especially if they’re a weak point of ours. We’ve been told we could train them three
to four times a week. What we have in all of those variations is
the sinking of the bar into these distal fingers here. That’s going to overload an stress that
medial elbow, causing medial elbow pain. Even if I do the reverse barbell curl you
can see that I still have the same effect. That bar starts to roll deeper into the fingers
as I start to fatigue. So, in order to counteract that, there’s
a better way to do this. And I do this right here with a cable machine. You can immediately see I’ve bent my elbow. I’ve taken the biceps out of this. I’m now pushing away. The other thing that’s happening here is,
as I’m pushing away, not only am I getting a more intense contraction of the forearm
muscles that you’ll feel the second you try this – you don’t have to use a cable
either. You can use a band. The fact is, you’ll get a more intense contraction
and as I push down with my wrist I’m allowing the handle to sink deeper into the palm, as
opposed to into the fingers. This will take all the stress off the medial
elbow. If you were to do these three to four times
a week it will allow you to train the forearm curling function without having those detriments
and those negative side effects that can go right to your elbow, preventing you from wanting
to train your forearms at all. The perfect forearm workout would not be complete
without carries. You’re going to be doing a lot of them and
there’s a reason for it. The forearms also very much require to have
endurance capabilities and have the capacity to be able to grip and hold for a long period
of time. Not just because we use them constantly throughout
the day, but we also know if, God forbid, we were in a survival situation we’d want
to be able to hang on and hold on for the duration. So, we’re going to train them with a set
of carries in between every, single exercise we do in this workout today. Walk one lap around, come back around, do
another set, and repeat. When we come back to the carries, we’re
going to end with the ultimate test of muscle endurance in our forearms, the arm hang. But for now, work your carries in between
every set, on every exercise you do in this workout. Let’s move onto the opposite side of the
forearm: wrist extension. We know it’s critical. We talked about, in the beginning, I said
this isn’t necessarily the best way to do it. There’s a reason for that. We should know by now, when we look at the
physics of the performance of this exercise we know when the hand gets up to the top into
full extension gravity is acting down through the wrist, and there’s less force here than
there is when gravity is acting perpendicular to the wrist. So, we’re taking tension off the forearm
as we get closer to the top. We could fix that by performing this standing. If we do this standing – the other way we
would want to do it is with this opposite roll. So, what I’ve done before, I’ve shown
you guys, I’m extending this wrist back on the right side to come up. You can see that even at its peak into full
extension I’m still completely perpendicular to the force of gravity. Meaning, my forearm is doing a lot of work
to hold this. Then I rotate the opposite side. So, I start to go left, right, left, right. What I do is, I want to work this in a ladder
style because I have another opportunity here. If I’m in this standing position I could
work another muscle of the forearm, the brachial radialis, that comes in here, into our forearm. So, all I have to do to do that is a reverse
curl. So, I can go in a ladder format. I can go one second here of roll, and then
one rep of a reverse curl. Two seconds of rolls, and then two reverse
curls. Three seconds of rolls, and then three curls. I try to work my way up to a ladder as high
as I can until I reach failure. What do we do next? Pick up those dumbbells, we do our carry all
the way around, back to the spot, and we do one more set. Next up we have radial deviation and ulnar
deviation. For some of you guys, you’ve never even
heard those terms. I’m telling you, for a complete and perfect
forearm workout you need to work on these things because there’s a reason for them. What we’re talking about – radial deviation
and ulnar deviation – is how the wrist bends in this frontal plane. It’s not just about flexion and extension
like we talked about. It’s also being able to bend this way. So, when we come toward the radius, the top
side bone in our forearm here, that’s radial deviation. Then we go down toward the ulna here, the
underside bone of our forearm, that’s ulnar deviation. You can see when I do radial deviation here,
you see the activity of the muscles of the forearm. So why are we not trying to train in that
motion? Even though it’s small, we need to work
on it. And you’ve probably seen people recommend
things you can do for this before. Like, using a sledgehammer. And they hold the sledgehammer down at their
side to work on radial deviation. They lift the weighted part up in this way. Now what we do is work on the way back. For ulnar deviation we flip the sledgehammer
around and we lift back that way. Now, the problem is we don’t all have sledgehammers. So, what do we do? We can do something in the gym with a rope. All you’ve got to do is take the rope from
here, down to here. Take one handle and stand up nice, and close. Put your hand down at your side. Now, because you can torque your hand off
from the bottom here with a rope, we’re going to go down like that. So, we go from neutral, or a little bit of
radial deviation, down into ulnar deviation. Just like that. Nice, and slow, and controlled. You do a set of these, you walk around the
gym with your carries, you come back, do another set. Obviously, each arm. Then we come back and rotate around this way. Now when we’re here, we take the grip on
top from here. Now, we’re going to work radial deviations. From here we’re going to push with the pinky
side of our hand, down into that rope to push the weight down and go into radial deviation. You can see each time. Push down through the pinky, there, and you
get into radial deviation, and come back down. So basically, this end is facing down toward
the ground and then you want to end with it facing out in front of you. Again, guys, we work both sides. We’re going to walk around the gym, as always,
with another carry, come back, and move onto the next exercise. Now, supination and pronation. Guys, this is not the way to do it. You see people do this all the time. You’re actually falling into pronation here
and falling into supination because the weight is spinning in your hand. You’re not resisting that motion. But we can do that. once again, you go back to the rope to do
this. So now, if I wanted to get into pronation
here what I do is hold the rope this way, and now I’m going to use it again this way. I’m pushing my fingers here into the rope
to pronate my forearm. Just like this. From here, from a supinated position, turn
the forearm over, push out with this finger into the rope, and I’m getting that resisted
pronation on every, single rep. You can see that here on the underside of
the forearm as it works, as I go down into pronation from here, every rep. What you want to do is work this to failure,
and then of course, walk around the gym with your carry. Now you come back and go the other way. If I want to do supination here, what I do
is take my hand out to the side and now I’m going to go and try to turn this into the
position facing out, back toward the machine. You can see all the forearm supination here
that takes place to get that there. Now, we know that the bicep is obviously a
supinator. But it’s not the only one. We’ve got a supinator muscle in our forearm
that you can see working to accomplish this. That’s what we’re trying to do. I’ll tell you guys, these muscles aren’t
ever trained in a way with resistance. Especially if you were doing that dumbbell
twirling exercise. So, they’ll respond pretty quickly to this
extra resistance to add size to your forearms. So, we want to make sure we do that. All right, guys. Almost done, but we now want to work those
intrinsic hand muscles that I talked about, then we’re going to finish with that final
test – that grueling hanging test – to put those finishing touches on this workout. Now we move onto intrinsic hand strength. You’re probably wondering “Why does that
really matter? We’re talking about my forearm, Jeff.” You saw in the very beginning here, the activation
of our fingers dramatically influences what goes on in our forearms because all of those
tendons and muscle bellies run down through the forearms into our fingers. So, we want to work that. The cool thing is, you can do it with a collar. You probably think “Well, I don’t have
those old rippers anymore.” Yeah, you do. You can take one of those collars from the
gym and you can do your hand squeezes here. What is that doing? Well, it’s obviously taking these fingers
and moving them from this straight position here, into this flexed position. So, we know we’re getting activation of
the forearm. But to integrate that, what I like to do is,
I like to do sets to failure here, and then once I’m done, back off. Back off the tension because you’re not
going to be able to do this if you hold full tension. You take it just a little bit of tension now,
and then I go and move my wrist into extension, and down into flexion. Into extension, and flexion. Extension, and flexion. Flexion, being able to still hold some tension
through here, gets very difficult because of active insufficiency. Once I shorten these flexors in my forearm
it gets hard to maintain force through here. But that’s what I’m trying to work on. I’m trying to maintain the ability to contract
and generate force, even in a shortened stated. So, I have a little bit of tension. I go back and forth into extension at the
wrist and flexion until I can’t do it anymore. So, it’s basically a drop set burnout. Go failure on the squeezes, and then failure
on the back and forth until you can’t control it anymore. You’re going to do that on each side, again,
with your carry in between each one. One last final, grueling test to put the finishing
nail in this coffin, guys. We’re doing the arm hang. You guys know how much of a fan I am of the
dead arm hang. What we’re doing here is trying to hold
on for as long as we can. Now, in a good situation, fresh, 1:40 is a
good time. It’s a good, average time. What I’m looking for here is, can you hold
for one more minute? Obviously, you’re going to want to start
sliding out. The bar is going to start to slide into your
fingers. Try not to let that happen for all the reasons
we talked about in the very beginning about not wanting that bar to slide into those distal
fingers because of the stress it puts on the elbow. Really squeeze. Really hold. Activate the forearms. Try to gut it out for one, final minute at
the end. So, guys, there you have. There is the perfect forearm workout. As you can see here, all the sets, all the
reps, all the techniques. It’s not meant to be a five-minute forearm
workout. If you have problematic forearms, if you are
suffering because you don’t have adequate strength there, if you don’t have adequate
size; you’re going to need to train them, just like any other muscle. That means you’re going to have to take
ownership of this program and start incorporating it into what you’re doing right now. If you’re looking for a complete program
that overlooks nothing in our training and lays all these out step by step, so we make
sure we’re hitting everything when you’re supposed to; all our programs do that. They’re over at In the meantime, if you liked this series
make sure you subscribe to our channel here and turn on your notifications, so you never
miss one of the videos in this series. Let me know what else you want me to cover
and I’ll do my best to do that for you in the days and weeks ahead. All right, guys. See you soon.

100 Replies to “The PERFECT Forearm Workout (Sets and Reps Included)”

  1. Want to win an ATHLEAN-X program for free, no strings attached? Click the link below to find out how!

  2. Excellent video….

  3. Frontal Plane is taught as Coronal Plane now. I know kinesiology changes frequently how its taught, as far as years or decades are concerned.

  4. 2:37, “You might be on the right track, but you’re on the wrong train”… Fucking love this, seems so obvious yet I never heard this before.. I’m stealing this (: anyways, great video as always!

  5. I've always had very skinny wrists and forearms, but average upper arms. I've been trying some of these intensive exercises consistently, I even have a personal trainer helping me, and have introduced more protein into my diet, but I'm still seeing absolutely no muscle growth after 5 months. I struggle to get over 6 hours of sleep and I can't consume the 3.3k calories I apparently need everyday to fuel growth, but am I missing something else here?? Am I just predestined to remain lean for life?!

  6. Jeff, I've heard wrist extensions are not worth it because there is a risk of irritating the median nerve. could you elaborate?

  7. This is bs if you are a skinny guy. Deadlift and chinups wil build forearms. What Jeff is showing here is only usefull if you already have mass. But for a skinny guy these excersizes are bs

  8. @ATHLEAN-X™ Thoughts on this: When working on ulnar deviation incorporating it at the end of say a drag push down? Looking at ways to combine ulnar and radial deviation into other exercises to "save time"

  9. Defenetly trying this out today. Awesome content brotha. I have learn so much from your videos. No bs here. Is all back up with fact. 😁👍

  10. I have no idea why my wrist hurts doing the rope… any ideas? I sprained it about 2 months ago but man it agonizes my wrist bad

  11. On the reverse curl, I see many people flex their wrists towards themselves during the motion. Am I right to assume that the wrist should be locked in the same, straight out, position through the entirety of the motion?

  12. What excercise would you recommend to do after this that compliments it, or should I dedicate a whole workout to just forearms

  13. I found these exercises really useful for letting all the power go through the punching motion without any fear of getting injured.

  14. I’ve found that your can do things similarly to some of these by using either plates 5-25 lbs or dumbbells , can simply rotate your wrists different ways just be careful to not just let it roll… is there a particular reason why a rope works better than either of those when you watch your position and resistance?

  15. You can achieve the same result of using a sledgehammer by using plate-based dumbbells with only one side with weight. Works wonders.

  16. His sons will have no excuse to not be big. A gym in their house, a dad who knows everything there is to possibly know about lifting.

  17. Great timing, I've been focusing on my forearms, traps and brachialis… the video man. I own a pair of grips and at the gym I DID DO those reverse barbell forearm curls and reverse preacher forearm curls…. I'll try your methods now.

  18. Here are another series of outstanding video presentations and explanation of the science of physiology. How muscles work well together: in its proper order.

  19. The best forearm workout comes from visiting a good porn site and working the forearm on a daily basis. Make sure to switch hands each day.

  20. the prone wrist curls are harder this way because you need strong internal rotation to just hold your arm in place i don't like that my internal rotators fatigue first it is super hard to focus on the forearms

  21. im lucky to find this channel really explains things in depth im tryimg to get into working out again more power to you guys cheers

  22. Should I do the perfect back workout & perfect biceps workout & add this perfect forearm workout on the same day of training ?

  23. I broke the end off my Radius and cracked my scaphoid..after it all healed I couldn't move my wrist or thumb.
    The little lady that put me through physio made me SWEAT & cry…
    I am now from zero Radial Movement to 80%

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