How to Get Bigger Forearms (11 Exercises to Grow Forearm Muscles)

Forearms are one of the most frustrating body parts to train. Many find them difficult to improve, and underdeveloped forearms are immediately obvious.

So how can you target this common problem area? Is it possible to increase forearm size? Or are you stuck with small forearms for life? Learn more in this guide on how to get bigger forearms.

Are Forearms Hard to Grow?

Forearms are one of the hardest muscle groups to add mass.

Part of it comes down to genetics. Unfortunately, some are just blessed with naturally skinny forearms. And fixing it is not the easiest thing, due to the complex nature of the forearm anatomy.

The forearms have a lot of individual muscles which serve different purposes, like allowing your hand and fingers to open and close, controlling the wrist joint and assisting elbow movement.


With how complex the forearm anatomy is, and how they’re naturally smaller than many other muscle groups, it’s hard to isolate and target them with resistance training.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to get bigger forearms, just more difficult.

Why Forearm Strength and Size is Important

Is building bigger forearms really worth it?

Generally speaking, yes.

First, forearms are important for aesthetics. Forearm size and definition is one of the easiest things for people to notice.

Second, big and strong forearms help you do other lifts more effectively, and the benefits carry over into functional activities and sports.

That said, it’s not always necessary to do isolation exercises specifically for forearms. They're involved in some way in almost every lift, so you'll naturally get bigger forearms just through a regular training regimen of efficient compound lifts.

How to Build Stronger Forearms

Most people will naturally get bigger forearms through normal lifting.

For example, if you do upper body exercises like deadlifts, bench press, barbell curls or rows, it’s impossible not to involve your forearms somehow.

But those with naturally skinny forearms may want to add one or two forearm exercises to each workout, or switch up your existing exercises to put more work on forearms and grip strength.

Alongside specific forearm training, regular principles for muscle growth apply; make sure you eat a lot of protein, and maintain a calorie surplus if you want to add muscle mass.

When to Train Forearms

Should you have a day where you specifically train forearms? If not, where should a forearm workout fit into your training splits?

Unless you’re a serious bodybuilder, there’s no need for a specific workout just for training forearms.

Like we said earlier, all you need is to supplement your normal workouts with one or two forearm isolation exercises. That should be enough to ensure your forearm growth keeps pace with the rest of your body.

Best Exercises to Increase Forearm Size and Strength

Skinny forearm gang rejoice - here are some of the best forearm exercises that are going to help you build massive forearms, plus forearm strength that translates to other lifts and activities outside the gym.

1. Farmer’s Carry

The farmer’s carry (or farmer’s walk) is probably my favorite forearm exercise.

For this exercise, you simply hold a weight in each hand (like dumbbells or kettlebells), and walk around.

Farmer’s walks work the hands and forearms, plus upper arms and full-body core strength.

They're easy and versatile. You can also substitute individual weights for a trap bar, which will allow you to load more weight.

2. Plate Pinch

Plate pinch (or pinch carry) is an alternative way to do the farmer’s carry or trap bar carry that isolates the forearms.

Grab a plate in each hand, pinching the plate between your fingers and thumb, and walk around.

This puts the bulk of the work on your forearms. To make it tougher, try taking two plates in each hand, using your fingers and thumb to pin them together.

3. Reverse Grip Curl

Different curl variations can deliver a better workout for your forearms.

The first is the reverse grip curl. With this, instead of the typical way where you hold your palms up, you turn your palms to face the ground, then do a regular curling motion. Do it with a barbell or dumbbells, and see which works best for you.

4. Wrist Curls

Wrist curls are the most common isolation exercise for forearms.

Unlike other curl variations, you’re really not working any other muscles with a wrist curl. You just sit with your arms resting on your knees, a dumbbell in each hand (it can be palm up or palm down), and lift the weight using only your wrists, thus putting the entire workload on your forearm muscles.

5. Hammer Curls

Alternatively, you can switch out regular dumbbell curls for hammer curls, to emphasize the forearms more.

Hammer curls are just like regular curls, except you hold the dumbbells upright with your palms facing inwards, recruiting the forearms more than the classic grip.

6. Zottman Curls

Another great variation, Zottman curls do a good job of hitting the biceps and forearms in one exercise.

You’ll do the first half like a regular curl, lifting the weight to your shoulder with palms facing up, then turn your palms down as you lower the weight again, hitting the forearms more on the way down.

7. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are an excellent all-round exercise - along with working the posterior chain and core, the forearms are recruited in each swing, meaning this exercise is another that’s great for grip strength and forearm size.

8. Pull Ups

Like the previous exercise, pull ups are another that doesn’t isolate the forearms, but definitely requires them to play a part. If your workout includes a lot of pullups, there’s quite a low chance you’ll have to deal with skinny forearms.

9. Dead Hang

You can also do something as simple as hanging from a bar and build stronger forearms.

Dead hangs are more difficult than they look, but the exercise is relatively simple. Hold a pull up bar with a shoulder-width grip, pinch your shoulder blades together, and focus on holding yourself up as long as you can.

You’ll recruit the core and lats to hold the position, but your forearms will really feel it.

10. Rock Climbing/Bouldering

Rock climbing or bouldering is another way to get bigger and stronger forearms. If you’ve done one climbing workout, you’ll know why, as it takes serious grip strength and muscular endurance to keep yourself on the wall.

11. Grip Strength Trainer

Finally, you can also get a grip strength trainer to isolate and give more work to the forearms.

Though the benefits are not as broad as you’d get from lifting weights, a grip trainer is super convenient - you can take it anywhere and get some reps in while you’re watching Netflix, on the train, on a walk, or any other time you’ve got a hand to spare.

Extra Trip: Modify Your Pull Exercises with a Towel Grip

Another great way to work the forearms is to add a towel to your regular pulling motions.

Instead of pulling a bar/dumbbell/kettlebell/plate directly, attach a towel to it and pull the end of the towel instead.

This puts more work on your grip strength and forearms, while maintaining a lot of the other benefits.

Towel grips are great with exercises like:

  • Pull ups
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Dead hangs
  • Rows (regular and inverted rows)
  • Farmer’s carries
  • Curls

You could even attach a towel to a pair of dumbbells and do towel grip deadlifts.

So, if you’ve been wondering “how to get bigger forearms?”, hopefully we’ve given you some ideas you can take away and add to your workout routine. Use these tips to build better aesthetics and more functional strength with killer forearms.