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15 forearm workouts to improve grip strength

These forearm exercises improve grip strength and make it easier to lift, carry and hold things.
Plank with shoulder taps
Shoulder tap planks are a great forearm workout that also tones the entire core.Getty Images

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When it comes to toning the upper body, the forearms are likely not an area that tops your priority list. But forearm exercises are important to improve grip strength, posture and balance.

The forerarms also play an important role in upper-body strength. The forearm is the part of the arm that goes from the elbow to the wrist. There are two bones, one on the lateral side and one on the medial side. The anterior and posterior sides of the forearm help with movement of the elbow, the wrist and the fingers and thumbs.

Why are forearm workouts important?

Doing forearm exercises builds better grip strength, which is an important ability that affects out everyday movement. Forearm exercises strengthen the muscles that cross over your elbows, wrists and hands and help improve your ability to perform daily tasks. A stronger grip helps you lift things, hold things, move things and carry things with your hands and arms. Everything from picking up objects to opening cans to playing sports with your hands is made possible by the strength of your forearms!

Forearm exercises

Here are 15 exercises to strengthen the forearms.

FOREARM WORKOUTS Zottman curl

 Zottman curl

Perform a bicep curl, keeping your elbows hugged into your sides and raising the dumbbells up toward your shoulders. When the dumbbells reach shoulder height, rotate the wrists and dumbbells so that the dumbbells face out, then lower the arms back down to your sides. Repeat 10 times.  

FOREARM WORKOUTS Upright row

Upright dumbbell row

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs, with the palms facing you. Engage your core and keep your chest up and shoulder back and down. Raise the dumbbells up toward your chin by lifting the elbows to the ceiling. Lower to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.  

Reverse curl forearm workout

Reverse curl

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing behind you. Imagine you are doing a bicep curl, but with your palms facing down toward the ground. Pull the weights up toward your shoulders and chest, like you would for a bicep curl, stopping when they are parallel to the floor. Lower them down to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Palms-up wrist curl forearm exercise

Palms-up wrist curl 

Sitting in a chair, hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest your wrists on your knees. Raise your hands as high as you can without moving your arms. Don’t let your wrists rise up either. Pause for a moment, and then lower your hands to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Palms-down wrist curl forearm exercise

Palms-down wrist curl 

Sitting in a chair, hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest your wrists on your knees with your palms facing down. Raise your hands as high as you can, without moving your arms. Your wrists should stay down, too. Pause for a moment, and then bring the hands back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Crab walk forearm exercise

Crab walk

Start in a reverse tabletop position with your feet under your knees. Place your hands under your shoulders, with your fingers facing toward your feet. Start walking forward by moving your hands and feet forward 10 times, and then rest. Repeat 10 times. 

Farmer’s walk forearm exercise

Farmer’s walk

Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand. Pull your shoulders back and down and puff your chest out. Start walking, keeping your arms at your sides and standing as tall as you can. Walk for 10 steps and then turn around and come back to the starting spot. Rest the weights down. Then pick them back up and repeat this for 5 times total.

Side plank forearm workout

Side plank

Come into a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Pull your naval in toward your spine and hug your legs together. Turn onto the right outer edge of the right foot, stacking the left foot on top. Press down through your right hand, keeping it directly underneath your right shoulder, and slowly bring the left hand onto your left hip. Pull the abs in toward the spine and the right hip away from the floor. Extend the left arm straight up to the ceiling. Hold the position for 10 seconds before coming back through plank and switching sides. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Plank shoulder tap forearm workout

Plank shoulder tap

Come into a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Spread your fingers wide. Pull your naval in toward your spine and shift your weight to your left hand as you lift your right hand up and tap your left shoulder. Then place the right hand down and lift the left hand up to tap the right shoulder. Continue alternating, performing 10 repetitions on each side.

Hammer curl forearm workout

Hammer curl

Stand with your feet hips-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides and your palms and fingers facing in toward your body. Making sure your palms remain facing in toward the body, lift both arms up toward your shoulders, keeping your elbows glued to your sides. Slowly lower both arms back down. Repeat 10 times.

Dumbbell halo forearm workout

Dumbbell halo

Hold one heavy weight with both hands. Start with the weight in front of your forehead with elbows bent, and then circle the weight around the left side, back and right side of your head. Repeat 10 times, then switch directions.

Downward facing dog forearm workout

Downward facing dog

Start in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Pull your naval in toward your spine and reach your butt up toward the ceiling. Form a “V” with your body with your heels reaching down toward the ground. (It’s OK if they are off of the ground.) Press down through your toes and your fingers to stretch the legs and the underarms. Bend one knee and then the other knee. Hold the stretch for 3 breaths.

Cobra forearm workout

Cobra

Lie on your stomach and place your hands on either side of your chest. Push an imaginary marble forward with your nose to lift up your head, neck and chest. Press down firmly through your hands and hug your elbows in toward your sides. Pull your navel in toward your spine and press your thighs down into the ground. Bring the shoulders back and lift the chin up. Take a deep breath in and then rest. Repeat 5 times.

Bird dog forearm workout

Bird dog

Begin in a tabletop position with hands and knees on the floor. Engage your abs and keep your hips stable as you extend your opposite arm and opposite leg out. Pause for a few seconds, maintaining your balance. Return back to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating for 10 repetitions on each side.

Forearm plank

Forearm plank

Start on your hands and knees on the mat. Line your shoulders up over your wrists. Come down on to your forearms and walk your knees back a few inches. Pull your navel in toward your spine, tuck your toes under and lift your legs up off of the ground. Squeeze your quads and reach your heels toward the back of the room. If you have a mirror, check yourself out to ensure that you’re in one straight line! Engage your core, maintaining a straight back. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat one more time.