What Is The ”Secret” To Getting Big Forearms?

Many muscle warriors have that Rambo forearm fetish. People want to walk around with massive forearms because the muscle is considered a symbol of masculinity and is frequently in the viewing range of humanoids around you. Big forearms are a way of saying: ”I lift.” without relying on metrosexual antics such as tank tops and wife beater shirts, which are often part of the narcissist’s wardrobe anyway.

Question is, how can you get massive forearms? Is that even possible? Is there a secret routine that will make your forearms look like dragons ready to obliterate the enemy?

Bruce Lee's wrist and finger extensors.

Bruce Lee’s wrist and finger extensors.

Method A: Do Nothing

As a little kid I spent a lot of time kicking a ball. One time, due to a reason I cannot recall, the boys around me on the playing field started measuring their muscles. There was one guy, a year or two older than the rest, who flexed his right forearm to showcase its size. It was massive. I wasn’t old enough to realize what was the true force behind this asymmetry, but years later I understood that the guy’s forearm size was a result of chronic masturbation fueled by Playboy.

It is indeed true that many people get big forearms through daily activities and without specific workout regimes. This is usually the case for individuals who do physical jobs requiring manual assembling and stuff. Even with all the modern equipment out there, having a strong grip is very important when you are involved in similar fields. Consequently, some people develop large forearms without even lifting. However, this is only true for people who have favorable muscle building genetics.

Frank McGrath - huge forearms. Note the long muscle bellies and short tendons;

Frank McGrath – huge forearms. Note the long muscle bellies and short tendons;

What’s considered good genetics when it comes to building massive forearms?

It’s simple: you need long muscle bellies and short tendons. Most people with impressive forearms fall in this category. In that regard the forearms behave in a way similar to the calves. Those with high calves (long tendons/short muscle bellies) have really hard time filling those body parts. There is just not muscle to grow there.

This is a big problem for many professional bodybuilders like Dennis Wolf for example. Unfortunately or not, even drugs cannot change this phenomenon. You either have good calves or you don’t. Another good example would be the forearms of Branch Warren. They are weak as hell compared to the rest of him. His insertions should take the blame.

Notice how short are the muscle bellies of Beckles's arms and forearms. That limits growth.

Beckles’s arms and forearms have short muscle bellies and long tendons. That limits growth.

Method B: Just train them indirectly

I learned the hard way that sometimes in life being direct can deprive you of success. One time when I was in high school I decided to ask out a girl that I didn’t even know but liked her for some weird reason. One day I just went to her and dropped the question. She said no and ran away with her frog legs, which I couldn’t identify at the time – I was too blinded by false teenage ”love”. Since I refused to accept that the rejection was due to my exceptional features, I can only blame the in your face/out of nowhere approach.

In some situations directness scares people away and you end up losing the battle for good or for bad, while indirect sleazy fuckers achieve their goals.

The same can be said about forearm training. Weird, right?

Some people don’t do so well with forearm isolation because it’s easy to overwork the area, especially if you have a job that requires strong forearm involvement such as construction, painting, vehicle repair and many more.

That’s why sometimes it is best to use the indirect method to get to your goal.

If you are doing a lot of upper body exercises, your forearms will be working plenty. Movements such as deadlifts (no straps), pull-ups, curls, hammer curls, rope climbing, bench pressing and many more will murder your forearms even if you don’t want that to happen.

If you stick to the ”indirect” method, you are not going to overwork your joints with pointless wrist curls and wrist rollers.

There is no doubt that if you have favorable genetics, your forearms will grow a lot even if you don’t do direct isolation exercises. An ironic part of life is that most people with truly big forearms fall in this category. They have good genetics and just lift. At the same time, there are also many skinny boys in the gym who do secret forearm routines taken from overpriced e-books, get a pump, look in the mirror with a horny look and began to think it’s finally happening. Well, it’s not. It was never meant to happen for you buddy.

Method C: Work On Your Forearms Only To Avoid An Imbalance

There is also another option – doing forearm work only to avoid an imbalance or fix a specific weakness that may hinder your performance later on. This works too, although many bald fitness gurus wrongfully advise people to do all the correctional exercises in the world. Every day there’s a new article telling noobs how they need this or that movement to prevent a hypothetical imbalance that may never manifest outside of the sick heads of ”hypertrophy experts”.

Method D: Obliterate Your Forearms With Exercises

Finally, we arrive at the approach many forearm fanatics are known for. A popular example would be Bruce Lee who used to do daily forearm training and even built some unique training equipment. This self produced torture is the reason why Bruce Lee’s forearms were somewhat overdeveloped compared to the rest of his physique, which is considered skinny by modern standards.

Still, I don’t think this is the best approach for most people, because if you don’t have the right genetics your forearms will not grow regardless of how much curls you do. You can make them really strong, resilient and durable, but size is a whole different game. Think of the incredible amount of people who destroy their calves only to get zero return on their investment. Meanwhile there are fatsos, spending years on the couch, who still have bigger lower legs. You have to pick your battles.

Also, daily forearm training is neither recommended nor needed. You can do just fine with 1-3 sessions per week. Anything beyond that goes into the category of diminishing returns and shows that you have unhealthy relationship with your forearms, which is not a crime but not optimal either.


Q: Is there a difference between grip and wrist training?

A: Yes. For example, wrist curls and wrist rollers don’t develop your grip as much as dedicated finger training. The opposite is also true to a certain extend.

Of course, you can’t complete isolate one from the other.

Q: Can you give me a routine that will give me Rambo’s meaty forearms?

A: There are no special routines. The best way is to construct one yourself. If you are going to train your grip and/or forearms, it’s logical to do it at the end of your workouts as a finisher.

In general, you need only 2-3 exercises – one for the wrist extensors, one for the flexors and one for your grip.

I am fan of wrist rollers that don’t require you to actually hold the device in front of you. You just grab the handle and roll. Wrist rollers will give you a sick pump if you care about that anyway. Before or after wrist rolling, you can do a grip exercise to work on your finger strength directly.

Nothing revolutionary, right?

That’s because our muscles have been doing the same thing for thousands of years. The ways to train them cannot evolve that much either.

The most important thing is to add weight overtime. You don’t have to follow a super specific cycle and max out on wrist curls or wrist rollers, but progression is always required.

As far as reps and sets are concerned, there is no need to go low. Low reps tend to put a little more stress on your wrists and elbows, although this is not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind.

Q: Why are the forearms so stubborn?

A: All muscle are stubborn and grow really hard. Most people never truly experience hypertrophy to be honest. When it comes to forearms and calves it gets even worse.

The forearms are built for a lot of endurance and have mostly slow twitch fibers, which are not keen to grow. When you couple that with short muscle bellies and long wrist tendons, you have a recipe for never growing forearms. In that case focusing solely on strength would be more beneficial for your mental state.

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