People can increase muscle strength and endurance and improve their bone health by exercising their forearms.

Forearm exercises can involve gym equipment. For instance, curls involve dumbbells, whereas pull-ups involve a bar or ring. People can also exercise their forearms without any special equipment. In all cases, however, exercising safely is key.

After discussing the forearm in more detail, this article summarizes some of the best exercises that can help to strengthen the forearms. It also discusses the risks and benefits of forearm exercise and explains how people can safely and effectively create an exercise routine.

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Scientists define the forearm as the portion of the arm that runs from the elbow to the wrist. There are only two bones in the forearm: the radius and the ulna. The forearm also contains multiple muscles, which allow it to move.

There are two main muscle groups within the forearm. The intrinsic muscles are responsible for moving the forearm around. The extrinsic muscles move the fingers, flexing or extending them. The forearm also contains one muscle that helps to bend the elbow.

Learn more about building muscle with exercise here.

People can exercise their forearms safely and effectively by:

  • warming up before exercise
  • consulting a doctor or reputable fitness instructor for advice
  • maintaining good form when exercising
  • exercising other muscle groups within the same session, if that would be beneficial
  • aiming for between 2–3 sets of 8–15 repetitions of the same exercise (reps)

However, it is worth noting that sports scientists continue to debate the optimal workout routine.

A 2019 study found no meaningful difference in muscle strength or endurance between three groups of study participants. Over a period of 8 weeks, the first group performed 1 set per exercise per workout, while the second and third groups performed 3 and 5 sets per exercise per workout, respectively.

Similarly, a 2022 study found no difference in muscle endurance between two groups of study participants after a 6-week period. The first group performed 5 sets per exercise per workout, with the second performing 10.

Therefore, a person may consider speaking to a healthcare professional about establishing a safe forearm exercise routine.

Learn more about muscular endurance training here.

Certain exercises use weights called dumbbells to exercise the forearm. People may access dumbbells at a gym or purchase some for home use.

Palm-up wrist curls

  1. Begin in a seated position and rest both wrists on a horizontal surface, such as the knees.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with the palms facing up.
  3. While keeping both arms still, raise the hands as high as possible. Proper form involves not letting the wrists raise off the horizontal surface.
  4. Pause briefly before lowering the hands back down. This counts as one rep.

Palm-down wrist curls

  1. Begin seated and rest both wrists on a suitable horizontal surface.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, but have the palms face down this time.
  3. While keeping both arms still, again raise the hands as high as possible. Proper form involves not letting the wrists raise off the horizontal surface.
  4. Pause briefly and then lower the hands back down. This counts as 1 rep.

Grip crush

  1. Begin seated and rest the left wrist on a suitable horizontal surface, palm facing upward.
  2. Holding a dumbbell in the left hand, allow the hand to open and relax, letting the dumbbell roll toward the fingertips.
  3. As the dumbbell reaches the fingertips, tighten the hand up and curl the wrist, squeezing the dumbbell back up as tightly as possible. This counts as 1 rep.
  4. After the desired number of reps, repeat on the right side.

Farmer’s walk

  1. With an overhand grip, carry two dumbbells, with both arms hanging alongside the body. Good form involves maintaining a straight posture.
  2. Walk around 30 feet. This counts as 1 set.

Other forearm exercises use different kinds of gym equipment. Again, it may be possible to purchase some of this equipment for personal use.

Behind back cable curl

  1. Begin by holding onto the handle of a low pulley with the left hand.
  2. Walk a few steps away.
  3. Place the right foot in front of the left, but not too much.
  4. Slowly curl the left arm, so the left hand meets the left shoulder.
  5. Pause before lowering the left arm back to the starting position. This counts as 1 rep.
  6. After the desired number of reps, repeat on the right side.

Towel cable row

  1. Attach a towel to a cable pulley and stand in front of it.
  2. Hold one end of the towel in each hand.
  3. Draw the shoulder blades together while bringing the towel to the chest in a rowing motion.

Pull-ups

  1. Begin by standing under a pull-up bar. Reach up and grab onto the bar with the palms facing away from the body.
  2. Gripping the bar tightly, squeeze the shoulder blades together and slowly lift the entire body off the ground.
  3. Briefly pause with the chin by the bar before lowering down slowly. This counts as 1 rep.

Dead hangs

  1. Begin by gripping onto a pull-up bar with the elbows slightly bent.
  2. Squeeze the shoulder blades together, engage the latissimus dorsi (lats), and keep a tight core.
  3. Hold onto the bar for as long as possible. This counts as 1 rep.

Forearm pulls

  1. Begin by holding the weight bar of a pulley machine at shoulder level.
  2. With the palms facing down, draw the upper arms toward the sides of the torso.
  3. Push the weight down as far as possible.
  4. Pause before returning to the starting position. This counts as 1 set.

Plate pinch

  1. Begin by pinching a weighted plate in each hand.
  2. While maintaining good posture, hold the plates for as long as possible. This counts as 1 set.

Certain exercises that may help with forearm strength do not require large equipment.

Fingertip push-ups

  1. Begin by kneeling slowly before bringing the fingertips to rest on the floor.
  2. Slowly bring the chest down close to the floor, with both elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Push back to the starting position. This counts as 1 rep.

Crab walk

  1. Begin by slowly moving into a reverse tabletop position.
  2. With the fingers facing toward the feet, place the hands directly under the shoulders, and align the ankles directly under the knees.
  3. Walk forward using the hands and feet for up to 1 minute. This counts as 1 rep.

Forearm squeeze

  1. Begin by holding a forearm grip.
  2. Extend and flex the fingers, squeezing the forearm grip.
  3. After holding for 3–5 seconds, relax the fingers.
  4. Continue for 10–15 minutes. This counts as 1 set.

Plank with shoulder taps

  1. Begin by kneeling on the floor and placing the hands directly underneath the shoulders.
  2. Lift the body and curl the toes, steadying the core to reach a plank position.
  3. Lift the left hand from the ground and touch the opposite shoulder.
  4. Return the left hand to the floor.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4, but with the right hand instead. This counts as 1 rep.

Building an exercise routine can be tricky. However, some evidence suggests that people can overcome this difficulty by following certain tips.

A person should slowly build up the intensity and the frequency of workouts. Finding enjoyable exercises may also help people stick to their exercise routine. Finally, taking time to recover is important, as it may affect how the next workout goes.

A 2018 meta-analysis found that people can use a wide variety of techniques to help recover from post-exercise muscle soreness, including:

  • exercising at lower intensities
  • receiving a massage
  • using compression garments

Water immersion may also help, especially if the water is cold. People can also relieve muscle soreness by using ice packs.

Scientists have proven that resistance training may benefit a person’s health. Aside from greater muscle strength and endurance, people who regularly do resistance training may maintain healthy bone density.

Physical activity, including strength training, may also improve a person’s work ability in physically demanding jobs.

Forearm exercises may have specific benefits too. A 2020 meta-analysis found evidence that upper-body resistance exercise could increase forearm bone mass.

Despite the potential benefits of forearm exercise, there is a risk of injury.

For example, there is evidence that particularly strenuous weight-bearing exercises may be inappropriate for certain people. This includes individuals with severe osteoporosis and people who have recently had a bone fracture.

Other factors that can make an individual more likely to injure themselves during weight training include being older and exercising at high volumes.

For these reasons, an individual should find an exercise program that challenges them without putting too much stress on their body. Qualified personal trainers may help a person develop an exercise program, potentially lowering the risk of injury.

There is a wide range of forearm strength exercises. These exercises may require dumbbells or other forms of gym equipment. By finding and sticking to the right exercises and working out safely, people may see improvements in their forearm strength.

A person should speak with a healthcare professional about exercising safely.