On this list, I will show you some of the best forearm dumbbell exercises. These moves help increase the muscle mass of your lower arms to look like Popeye. Also, they help to make your forearms more defined and improve grip strength.
This guide includes:
- Why it’s essential to strengthen your lower arms with a forearm workout
- Tutorials on how to perform the various forearm weight exercises
- How to get bigger forearms and wrists, stronger wrist flexors
- And other training advice and alternatives
So, if you have a pair of dumbbells at home after running through this post, you’ll know how to get a good workout.
Why Do These Lower Arm Exercises?
Grip strength is quite underrated in the field of muscle building. Everyone focuses on the chest, arms, etc., to look cool and firm. But, insufficient forearm strength can lead to a few problems and may stop you from developing.
I’ve seen guys stop growing because the bar slipped out their palms. They couldn’t do more pull-ups or deadlifts because their fingers, wrists, and forearm muscles were weak. Instead of curing the problem with exercises, they started using wrist wraps and other shortcuts. Don’t make the same mistake. Include forearm strengthening exercises and forearm training into your regular workout routine.
And, you need nothing more, just weight.
- 1 Why Do These Lower Arm Exercises?
- 2 Understanding the Forearms
- 3 1. Hammer Curl
- 4 2. Farmer’s Walk
- 5 3. Palms Up Dumbbell Wrist Curl
- 6 4. Palms Down Wrist Curl
- 7 5. Dumbbell Forearm Rotation
- 8 6. Forearm Dumbbell Twists
- 9 7. Reverse Dumbbell Forearm Curl
- 10 8. Dumbbell Finger Curl
- 11 9. Zottman Curl
- 12 10. Towel Kettlebell Curl
- 13 11. Reverse Wrist Curls
- 14 Alternatives to Forearm Workouts with Dumbbells
- 15 Why Should You Focus on Forearm Size and Strength?
- 16 Conclusion
Understanding the Forearms
Let us start by discussing what the forearms are exactly and how the exercises listed below can help. The upper limb between your elbow and the wrist contains two long bones; this area is considered your forearm. These two bones are the radius and ulna.
Your forearm muscles are made up of smaller groups that include flexors and extensors. Forearm extensors are located in the posterior compartment of the forearm. The forearm extensors are responsible for producing extension at your wrist and fingers and are innervated by the radial nerve.
Forearm flexors are the superficial anterior forearm muscles. The anterior compartment contains the biceps brachii, coracobrachialis, and brachialis muscles. The flexor muscle decreases the angle between the bones on both sides of the joint when you bend your elbow.
Now that we have that covered – what is wrist flexion? Simply put, wrist flexion is the action of bending your hand down at the wrist so that your palm faces in toward your arm. It is a necessary part of the normal range of motion we have in our wrists. If you have normal wrist flexion, your muscles, bones, and tendons are working as they should.
Forearm exercises like those listed below can help strengthen and stretch your muscles and improve wrist flexion.
1. Hammer Curl
The hammer curl is the most well-known forearm exercise, but it also shapes the biceps.
- The execution is the same as a bicep curl, but the palms face inwards. This way, the upper parts of the forearm muscles are more engaged.
- The rule is the same. Don’t swing the dumbbells. Keep your elbows close to your body and your back straight.
You may use heavier weight for this exercise since it’s more compound than the previous ones. Do 8-15 reps.
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2. Farmer’s Walk
It’s an underestimated compound exercise that works your lower and upper body and develops your functional strength. It’s a combination of cardio and strength training. Because you have to hold dumbbells for minutes, it makes your grips super powerful.
- Grab two weights and pull your shoulder blades backward. You can use heavier loads.
- Walk for at least 1 minute, but 2-3 minutes should be your goal.
3. Palms Up Dumbbell Wrist Curl
You can do the wrist curl with one or two weights.
- Sit on the bench, place your forearms on your thighs, hands facing up
- Your wrists should be off your knees so that your hands will have enough space to move up and downwards
- Curl the dumbbells towards your forearms as much as you can. When you have the maximum contraction, stop for a moment, and squeeze your muscles
- Slowly lower the DB back to the starting position
To avoid using the momentum or your shoulders, you can do the wrist curl by kneeling behind a bench by placing your lower arms on the pad.
Don’t use too hefty weights that spoil the correct form of the exercise. I suggest doing at least 12 reps, but you can perform up to 20 reps.
4. Palms Down Wrist Curl
With the previous training, we target the bottom side of the forearms. With this overhand grip version, we focus on the upper side.
- The starting position is the same, but your hands are facing down
- Lift the dumbbells upwards in front of you as high as you can
- At the top, pause for a few seconds, and slowly with a controlled motion, lower the dumbbells
Perform 12-20 reps.
5. Dumbbell Forearm Rotation
This exercise is excellent for strengthening your wrists and fingers. You can do it by sitting with your arms on your knees. But, I prefer the bench version since I can make larger circles and bypass the other muscles.
- Kneel behind the bench and place your lower arms on the padding with your palms facing upwards
- Make a move as if you were turning a key with the dumbbells
Do 15-20 repetitions.
6. Forearm Dumbbell Twists
It seems to be a silly exercise, but wrist rotations with weight strengthen your grips effectively. Because of the rotational movement, you have to grip the bar tightly, so your fingers, forearms, and wrists are activated.
- Grab two dumbbells in a standing position
- By keeping your upper arms close to you, rotate the weight
7. Reverse Dumbbell Forearm Curl
Everyone knows the biceps curl, but we can turn it into an excellent exercise for the forearms with a twist.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand shoulder-width apart with your palms facing down
- Lift the dumbbells. Keep your elbows next to your torso and use the power of your lower arms. Exclude your shoulders as much as possible, and don’t use the momentum
- Lift the weight until you feel the contraction in your forearms. I prefer to lift higher to get a longer range of motion
- At the top of the movement, stop and just hold the weights
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. The negative phase is also beneficial for strength
Do 10-20 reps for this reverse curl.
8. Dumbbell Finger Curl
Dumbbell Finger Curl is another variation of Wrist Curl, which emphasizes more on your wrist flexors when your fingers are in motion. It also works on the flexor carpiradialis and flexor carpi ulnaris. To improve the technique, you can do a set in each arm. It involves 3 phases:
- Start by kneeling on the floor vertical to an exercise bench. Firmly hold two dumbbells in a supinated position
- Keep the backside of each forearm on the bench so that your wrist doesn’t hang on the bench. Make sure you keep your arms on the bench throughout the exercise. Allow the dumbbells to roll down to your fingers while extending the wrist. Now that’s the starting position
- In the concentric phase, flex both wrists at the same time while raising the dumbbells upwards. As you bend your wrist, wrap your fingers around the dumbbell. Slowly extend your wrists and allow the dumbbell with your finger to return to the starting position
9. Zottman Curl
The Zottman Curl is one of the best workouts for your forearms. Compared to the Forearm Curl, the Zottman Curl needs you to flip your grip on the dumbbell during your movement. Here’s how to do it:
In a standing position, hold your dumbbells in each hand at your side with your thumbs around the hurdles for safety and a palms-up grip. Keep your chest up, your eyes forward, and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your elbows in place, curl the weights toward your biceps or shoulders simultaneously for both hands.
Hold the position, squeeze your biceps once you get to the top, then flip the weights until your palms are in the pronated position. Still in this position, lower your dumbbells slowly towards your thighs until you are close to your limit.
Hold this position and turn your palm to the palms-up grip and start again. If you can’t finish all reps with both arms simultaneously, you can alternate your arms on each rep.
Try to perform about 12 reps.
10. Towel Kettlebell Curl
This exercise is usually done with a Kettlebell, but you can do it with a dumbbell. Make sure you don’t allow your arms to be fully extended at the end of the movement to prevent tension from leaving your biceps, which can release the dumbbells. If you are a wrestler, this training will benefit you by improving your grip.
This workout will engage both your arms and forearms. Here’s how to do these forearm curls:
- Loop the towel around a pair of dumbbells or through the handle of a kettlebell and fold the towel in half
- Hold the end of the towel in both hands and curl, keep your upper arm in a stationary position and then perform a curl
- Move your foreman up until the palm of your hand reaches the level of your shoulders
- Return to the starting position by slowly lowering your arms with the weight and repeat
Do 5 – 8 reps due to the continuous stress of this forearm exercise.
11. Reverse Wrist Curls
A reverse wrist curl trains a part of our body that we often neglect. Reverse wrist curls can improve our grip strength and helps us achieve stronger wrists and arm muscle. You need a good grip when working out with heavy weights and bars in the gym.
Doing this exercise can also help boost your performance when you engage in other upper body exercises. Reverse wrist curls are versatile and useful. They should be done at least two times a week to encourage muscle growth.
Follow these steps to do this reverse curl and develop strong forearms:
- Start by sitting on a flat bench and lean forward. Grasp the dumbbell you are using with an overhand grip and rest your forearm on your knees or the bench
- Using only a wrist motion, curl the dumbbell upward, and exhale as you do the movement
- Lower the weight slowly and to a comfortable height while inhaling
Do these steps three to four times for however many repetitions you feel necessary.
Alternatives to Forearm Workouts with Dumbbells
Don’t have a set of dumbbells handy but still want to build stronger arms? Try one of these alternative exercises for bigger forearms.
The crab walk increases your upper body strength and is an exercise you may remember from your elementary school days. Once you get started, you will probably notice a bit of shakiness in your arms. This is good. The crab walk is a full-body exercise that requires no equipment. It works the upper arms, shoulders, upper legs, and core. It targets all your muscle groups.
Push-ups effectively work your forearms, core, and shoulders and can easily be done virtually anywhere with no equipment. Start on all fours and extend your legs behind you. Your arms should be under your shoulders.
You need to form a straight line with your body. Keep your toes fixed as you lower your body to the ground by bending your elbows. Once you are almost to the ground, push yourself back up and repeat the process.
Why Should You Focus on Forearm Size and Strength?
To build strength, improve grip strength, and manage and reduce hand, wrist, and elbow pain, you should focus on forearm size and strength. When you lack forearm strength, you will find that it is harder to build strength and achieve muscle growth in other parts of your body. Therefore, stronger forearms are essential for a strong grip. More muscles can generate more squeezing force, making your workouts more efficient.
Perfectly worked-out forearms are a fitness goal for many and can be the foundation to better workouts in the future. Try the exercises we have listed above, and let us know how it goes!