While there are tons of different workout styles, training splits, and rep schemes, a simple truth rules strength training: If you can’t grip it, you can’t lift it.
Grip strength is more important than you might expect. You might be able to get away with a subpar handshake in some settings, but if your grip is weak, you could face more serious health issues down the line.
In the more immediate sense, you won’t be able to do much in the weight room if you have trouble keeping hold of whatever you’re trying to heft. Unless you want to depend on lifting straps to get through each workout, your ability to grasp heavier weight for extended periods of time can be the difference between a good and a great physique.
Add one of the following 10 moves to your next upper-body or arm workout and rotate between the exercise each session.
The Forearm Building Moves
1. Towel-grip Dead Hang
Towels are a great way to intensify your grip training without needing to add external loads to your body.
Aim to be able to hold yourself for 30 seconds at first. Once you can get to 60 or more seconds, you’re a forearm freak show!
Hold yourself in a dead hang for as long as you can for 3 to 5 sets.
2. Dumbbell Zottman Curl
One of the reasons your forearms tend to lag behind your biceps is because you can use heavier weights on underhand-grip biceps curls than overhand-grip curls, which more directly work your lower arms.
The Zottman curl allows you to benefit from the stronger underhand position on the way up but then loads up your weaker overhand grip on the way down to attack your forearms.
Lower your weights slowly, taking 3 to 5 seconds on the lowering phase of the exercise, to incur the most muscle damage on those forearms. This will max out your muscle and strength gains.
Do 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
3. Barbell Reverse Curl
This is a great move to do for high reps — it will give you an epic muscle pump.
Keep your reps smooth and controlled and focus on driving as much blood into your forearms as possible.
Want even more gains? Immediately follow each set with 15 to 20 additional reps with an underhand grip. This mechanical drop set tends to turn those arm veins into anacondas.
Do 3 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
4. Palm Plank Lift
This move might not look like much, but after the full 40-second session, your forearms will be screaming.
Get in a plank position with your palms on the ground, squeezing your core and glutes. Press into the ground and lift yourself up on your right hand, shifting your weight to your left. Lower your palm back to the ground, then repeat the movement on your left side.
Keep that up for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds as part of the above workout, or perform 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
5. Grip Buster Curl
Your forearms and biceps get plenty of work here. After all, this is a curl.
Using a pair of light-to-medium weight dumbbells, perform a standard dumbbell curl with both hands simultaneously. At the bottom of each rep, retract your wrists and pause for a count, holding the weights at an angle, then contract back into a standard starting position.
Repeat as many reps as possible in 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds to follow the workout above or perform 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Forearm moves aren’t complicated. Case in point: Loaded carries. But after 50 yards, your grip is guaranteed to get a little more loose, forcing you to work harder to hold that weight. These three variations will give you a trio of tough, strength-building exercises.
6. Suitcase Carry
Keep your spine straight and squeeze your core, making sure not to overcompensate for the weighted side of your body. Walk 25 yards, then turn around and walk 25 yards back to the start.
7. Overhead Carry
Keep your spine straight and squeeze your core, making sure not to overcompensate for the weighted side of your body. Don’t allow your unloaded shoulder to slump. Walk 25 yards, then turn around and walk 25 yards back to the start.
8. Farmer’s Carry
Keep your spine straight and squeeze your core. Walk 25 yards, then turn around and walk 25 yards back to the start.
9. Flexed Arm Carry
Bring your biceps into the equation with a flexed arm version of the carry.
Grab some medium-weight dumbbells with an overhand grip and hoist them to a position with a 90-degree bend in your elbow. Walk 25 yards, then turn around and walk 25 yards back to the start.
10. Towel Grip Inverted Row
You’re not finished with the towels from the first exercise on the list.
Now, grip them to hang from beneath a low bar setup, holding a plank posture with your heels down on the ground. Pull your chest up to the bar, maintaining your posture, then return to the starting position.
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