Is Forearm Size Genetic?

Impressive veiny forearms attract more attention in the gym than big biceps. In the eyes of the public having a set of truly muscular and powerful forearms demands respect.

The idea is that people tend to associate large forearms with hard physical labor or other action hero activity. Of course, we all owe that to Sylvester Stallone a.k.a. Rambo.

rambo-huge-forearms

Rambo – big forearms

What are the forearm muscles made of?


The forearm muscles are built for endurance since they are needed constantly for all kinds of daily task.

As a result the creator of the human body has decided to make the forearm muscles mainly out of red muscle fibers.

Along with the heart, the calves and the abdominals the forearms are considered the ‘reddest’.

This means that the forearm muscles are very good at doing repetitive activities that do not require a lot of strength – marathon stuff.

Can short forearms grow?

Many people who have trouble developing their forearms usually have the so-called short forearms. This means that the muscles of the forearms are quite short in comparison to the tendons. That alone reduces the potential for growth significantly since the only thing that can grow in size is the muscle tissue and when you don’t have much to begin with growth and hypertrophy are limited.

Guys like Frank MacGrath who are the most famous for their forearm development have long muscle bellies and short tendons. That equals great growth potential. To be honest those people usually don’t even work their forearms that much. They just don’t have to.

Frank McGrath - huge forearms

Frank McGrath – huge forearms

Of course there are also bodybuilders who are able to develop respectable forearm even when their muscle bellies are short compared to the tendons. A good example would the genetic freak Albert Beckles who still looks good at 75+ years of age. In the image he has really solid forearm development despite having super short muscles.

albert-beckles-hige-forearms

Conclusion: ‘Short forearms’ can definitely grow but not as much as ‘long forearms.’

Do forearms have to be killed in order to grow?

Without a doubt the forearms are one of the toughest muscle in the human body. You can murder them into oblivion and they will still recover much faster than the ‘sissy’ and fragile shoulder muscles for example. However, the wrist and the elbow are actually very susceptible to injuries. That’s why your forearm workouts should always be designed intelligently. Don’t do too many exercises. Focus on basic movements.

Grip Strength And Forearm Size – Are They Connected?

Big forearms do not always equal strong grip. To develop large forearms one should focus around exercises that involve the wrist more. On the other hand grip strength requires dedicated finger exercises. Good exercises for forearm size are wrist rollers and wrist curls. Make sure to also work the back of the forearm (extensors) in order to avoid overuse injuries such as elbow tendonitis a.k.a ‘tennis elbow’.

So, is forearm size genetic?

The size of any muscle is genetic. Some people have easier time growing than others. With that being said it looks like the forearms and the calves are without a doubt the most stubborn muscle groups. Some have them by doing nothing, while others may be lifting super heavy weights and still don’t have the size they deserve.

Conclusion: Forearm size is largely dependent on genetics, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t train them heavily to improve strength and performance.

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