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Developing the Forearm Muscles

The forearm muscles are a group of muscles which control the wrist and the hand and are vital in positioning and holding the hand in the many functional positions required for complex functions of the hands. The forearm muscles are composed of two major groups, the extensor muscles which originated around the outer aspect of the elbow and are the much weaker group due to the fact that the hardest work they have to do is stabilise and pull back the wrist. The flexor muscles originate from the inner part of the elbow and perform stabilisation of the wrist but also have an important function in the gripping power required in the hands.

Training the forearm muscles often occurs naturally with all the gripping required in upper body training but some training of the muscles specifically can be useful if strong gripping power is required in an activity or sport. Training the extensor muscles needs to be carefully prepared as it is easy to overdo these muscles which are naturally not strong, and it is relatively easy to develop a tendinitis problem such as tennis elbow if the intensity of exercise is too high. A typical exercise is to hold a light barbell with the forearms turned down and resting on a bench and the wrist over the edge, with the exercise performed by lifting the hand upwards and downwards.

The forearm flexors are much stronger and more used to high levels of force than the extensor muscles so can be trained harder from the beginning compared to the extensors. Lying the forearms on a bench with the palms up and holding a barbell, the wrist is let downwards and bend up again to fully exercise the flexor muscle group. Forearm training may be best done on days when the major upper body muscles are not being worked to avoid fatigue, and training the forearm muscles can tire the group so that grip is affected for a day or so until the muscles recover.

Reverse curls are an effective and strenuous exercise to develop the forearm muscles. The barbell is gripped with the forearms facing down rather than the more common palm up posture, and then the barbell is curled up and down in the same manner as biceps curls. This demands great strength from the forearm muscles to prevent the bar from dropping downwards out of the finger grip. This exercise stresses both the extensor and flexor muscles strongly


Author: Jonathan Blood-Smyth

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