When it comes to developing the arms the biceps and triceps seem to get all of the attention. The most neglected aspect of training the arms is forearm and grip development. Training the forearms and grip is important for maximizing upper arm development.
Most would agree that training your biceps, but not your triceps is a misguided approach to training because the biceps would only get as strong as what the triceps would allow, a concept known as reciprocal inhibition. Training the forearms and grip should be included in any kind of arm training specialization program for the following reasons:
- Training the forearms will improve “tracking” of the elbow, which will yield better biceps development.
- Increasing grip strength will lead to improved overall strength because more neural drive can then be “re-routed” to the primary movers of a given lift because the muscles responsible for gripping are now working at a lower percentage of their maximum.
- Improper strength ratios between the muscles of the upper arm and the forearm can lead to uneven tension accumulating in the soft-tissue frequently leading to elbow pain. Once the muscles that pronate and supinate the wrist are strengthened this elbow pain is alleviated.
- Train the grip every forearm workout. Training the grip is somewhat different than training the forearms, primarily due to the muscles involved. There are 3 types of grip: support, such as with a Farmer’s Walk; crushing, such as when squeezing something that resists the hand from closing, i.e. a spring-loaded gripper; and pinching, which is characterized by opposition of the thumb and joints of the fingers.
- Using thick-handled barbells, dumbbells, and other implements will stimulate new growth. The structure of the hand is that of a grasping tool and it’s capable of exerting force against objects of varying diameters. Just as varying the angle of the bench in pressing exercises to develop the pectorals, using training implements of varying diameters overloads different points in the strength curve of the muscles involved with gripping.
Give the routine from the video a try! (You won’t be able to write legibly for an hour or so afterwards!)
A1 Wrist Curl – Low Pulley – Thick Bar 3x 20 1-0-1-1 rest 10sec
A2 Wrist Extension – Close Grip – Semi-Pronated – EZ Bar 3x 20 1-0-1-1 rest 10sec
A3 Grip Trainer – Pronated 3x 20 2-0-1-1 rest 90sec