If you want to build sturdy and sizeable forearms with a barbell, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve shared six forearm barbell exercises to help you improve the appearance of your arms and strengthen your grip to handle more weight. Whether you train at home or in the gym, you can incorporate these exercises into your workout routine to build bigger forearms.
Once you read this article, you’ll learn how to target forearms from multiple angles and develop both strength and size.
Functions and Benefits of Strong Forearm Muscles
The forearms are the muscles that extend from the elbow to the wrist. They are made of as many as twenty muscles which are divided into two compartments; the front part, the anterior flexor compartment, and the rear part, the posterior extensor compartment.1Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Forearm Muscles – Stat Pearls
The forearm muscles connect the upper arm with your hand and help lift and hold things. They are also involved in many other movements, including lifting and pushing.
Top 6 Barbell Forearm Exercises
When it comes to achieving burly forearms, you need to perform exercises that can help you target your forearm from multiple angles. And for that, you can do the following workouts.
1. Bent-over Barbell Wrist Extension
The standing barbell wrist curl is a great exercise to work the forearms. It is also an excellent way to increase grip strength, which will help you in many other exercises, such as barbell curls, bent-over barbell rows, and pull-ups.
The best thing about this exercise is it doesn’t require a workout bench. You can do this safely by placing your elbows on your thighs.
Let’s see how to do it:
- Hold the bar with your hands hip-width apart and grip it with an overhand (pronated) grip.
- Bend forward and place your elbows on your knees or thighs.
- Extend your wrists until you can feel the contraction in your forearms.
- Lower the barbell and repeat for the desired times.
2. Barbell Wrist Curl (Flexion)
Barbell wrist flexion is a common exercise for strengthening forearm muscles and improving wrist mobility. You can perform this exercise along with other exercises to sculpt your forearms.
How to do it:
- Grip a barbell firmly with an underhand grip.
- Push your hips back and lean forward.
- Place your elbows on your knees with your palms facing up.
- Flex your wrists as much as possible or until your forearms are contracted.
- Uncurl your wrists and repeat for the desired times.
Note: You can also perform wrist flexion by holding the barbell behind your glutes. It is helpful, especially when you don’t feel comfortable performing bent-over barbell wrist curls.
3. Barbell Wrist Roll Ladder
The barbell wrist roll exercise is a simple and effective way to prop your forearms. It also helps improve wrist flexibility and mobility and increase size.
- Placing your hands hip-width apart, grab a barbell and stand upright with your feet together.
- Hold the bar in front of your thighs with your palms facing in.
- Twisting your wrists, roll the bar for a set period of time.
- Aim for two to three sets of 15 to 30 seconds each.
4. Reverse Barbell Wrist Curl
The reverse wrist curl is an excellent barbell exercise to bolster your forearm strength. It helps shift more of the emphasis on two of your forearm muscles, the brachioradialis, and the pronator teres and minimize the stress on your biceps.
How to do it:
- Sit on your knees or feet in front of the bench.
- Grab a bar and hold it with a pronated grip, hands hip-width apart.
- Place your forearms on the bench with your palms pointing toward the floor.
- Extend your wrists until your forearms are fully engaged.
- Lower the bar and repeat for the desired times.
5. Single-arm Landmine Wrist Curl
The single-arm barbell wrist curl is a unilateral exercise that helps work on each forearm individually so that you can focus more on your less strong side and even out strength imbalance.
How to do it:
- Position one end of the barbell in the corner of the wall or machine and grab the opposite end with your left hand.
- Keep your arm straight at your side and stand with your feet together.
- Flex your wrist as many times as you like, and then repeat with your right hand.
Note: You can also do wrist extensions in the same position if you want. Both wrist extension and flexion are crucial for strong forearms.
6. Barbell Suitcase Iso-Hold
The barbell suitcase hold is an isometric exercise that bolsters the entire arm, including the forearm. It only requires you to hold a naked or loaded barbell for a set amount of time.
You can do the suitcase hold using both arms simultaneously or unilaterally, depending on what suits you the most.
To do this movement, you can follow these steps:
- Grasp the middle of the barbell with your right hand using an underhand grip and stand upright in the hip-width stance.
- Holding your right arm straight at your side, stay in that position for ten seconds. Then, repeat the same on the opposite side.
When it comes to achieving muscular, sizeable, and toned forearms, you need to hit your forearm from multiple angles. You can do that by performing barbell wrist extensions, flexions, adductions, and abductions. Having sturdy forearms improve the definition of your arms, increases grip strength, minimizes the risk of wrist injuries, and helps improve your pulling and pushing movements.
You don’t need to perform all the above exercises on the same day; instead, you can divide them into different training sessions. For example, I do wrist extensions and rolling on pull day, and wrist flexion and suitcase isometric hold on push or leg day. However, you can do it any day you like because the primary thing is to perform specific forearm strengthening exercises, whether you do them on the pull, push, or leg day.
Related Barbell Exercise
- 1Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Forearm Muscles – Stat Pearls