Best Dumbbell Forearm Exercises and Workouts

Dumbbell Forearm Exercises


There ain’t nothing dumb about dumbbells! In fact, armed with nothing but your trusty hand weights, you can train every muscle group in your body, and that includes your forearms.

The forearms are one of the hardest working muscles in most bodybuilding workouts. After all, they’re indirectly involved in almost every upper body and many lower body exercises.

And yet, despite this, a lot of lifters have woefully underdeveloped forearms and a puny grip. That’s a shame because your forearms are one of the most visible muscle groups, especially when you wear a T-shirt or have your sleeves rolled up.

Also, if you want to deadlift, curl, or row heavy weights, muscular forearms are a must.

In this article, we reveal the nine best forearm exercises using nothing but a pair of dumbbells and provide you with a couple of great workouts to try.

Ripped Forearm

Forearm Anatomy

Unlike your upper arms, which are mainly made up of your biceps and triceps, your forearms are much more complex. That’s because they control all of your fingers as well as your wrists. Some forearm muscles cross your elbows, too.

Broadly speaking, the muscles of the forearms can be categorized as flexors or extensors. The flexors are responsible for closing your fingers into a fist and curling your wrist downward. In contrast, the extensors open your fingers and pull your wrist upward.

 

The muscles that make up the forearm are (1):

Flexors: Flexor carpi ulnaris, palmaris longus, flexor carpi radialis, pronator teres, flexor digitorum superficialis, flexor digitorum profundus, flexor pollicis longus, and pronator quadratus.

Extensors: Brachioradialis, extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor digitorum, extensor digiti minimi, extensor carpi ulnaris, anconeus, supinator, abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, and extensor indicis.

Forearm Anatomy

Do you need to know all these names? Definitely not! But it does serve to illustrate how the forearms are a complicated body part, and you can’t just hope they’ll get bigger and stronger. Instead, you need to choose the best forearm exercises and train them hard and often – just like any other muscle group.

The Best Forearm Exercises with Dumbbells

Not sure how to go about building your forearms with nothing but dumbbells? Here are nine of the best exercises for beefing up your lower arms.

1. Dumbbell Wrist Curl

Dumbbell wrist curls work your forearm flexor muscles and will also improve your grip. If you are serious about bulking up your forearms, this exercise is a MUST! Do it with one dumbbell or train both forearms at the same time as preferred.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on an exercise bench or chair. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest your forearms on your thighs, palms facing up.
  2. Extend your wrists and lower the dumbbell(s) down toward the floor. Open your fingers slightly to engage your forearms fully.
  3. Close your fingers and then curl your wrists upward.

 

2. Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curl

This exercise hits your forearm and wrist extensor muscles. While not as big as the forearm flexors, these muscles are no less important. In fact, in most people, the forearm extensors are very underdeveloped and need some extra attention.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on an exercise bench or chair. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest your forearms on your thighs, palms facing down.
  2. Flex your wrists and lower the weights down toward the floor.
  3. Extend your wrists and lift the weights up as far as you can.

 

3. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Most exercisers think of hammer curls as being a biceps exercise. While that’s pretty much true, hammer curls are also an excellent forearm exercise. That’s because, as well as working your biceps, they also hit your brachioradialis and brachialis muscles, both of which are forearm muscles. So, bigger biceps AND forearms? What’s not to like?!

How to do it:

  1. Seated or standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down by your sides. Your hands should be neutral, i.e., facing inward.
  2. Bend your elbows and curl the weights up toward your shoulders. Do NOT rotate your wrists.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.

 

4. Dumbbell Reverse Curls

Like hammer curls, reverse dumbbell curls work your forearms and your biceps. While you won’t be able to use heavy weights for this exercise, it’s still an effective upper and lower arm builder. Use a thumbless “suicide” grip to increase forearm activation during reverse curls.

How to do it:

  1. Seated or standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides. Turn your wrists so that your palms face behind you.
  2. Bend your elbows and curl the weights up toward your shoulders. Do NOT rotate your wrists.
  3. Extend your arms, lower the weights, and repeat.

 

5. Dumbbell Zottman Curl

Zottman curls are an old-school forearm and biceps exercise. They combine regular biceps curls with reverse curls to hit your upper and lower arms simultaneously. This exercise is much harder than it looks and sounds, so don’t go too heavy too soon. Expect a wicked burn and pump in your biceps and forearms.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent for balance. Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, palms facing your legs. Make sure your torso is fully upright. Brace your abs.
  2. While keeping your upper arms close to your sides, bend your elbows and curl the weights up to your shoulders. As you raise the weights, rotate your wrists so that your palms are turned upward. Curl the weights all the way up until your biceps are fully contracted.
  3. Next, without lowering the weights, rotate your forearms so your palms are now facing downward. This is called a pronated grip.
  4. Extend your arms and, keeping your hands pronated, lower the weights down towards the starting position.
  5. As the dumbbells near your legs, rotate your wrists, so your palms face inward – a neutral grip.
  6. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

 

6. Dumbbell Front Lever Raise

This exercise is also known as dumbbell radial deviation, which refers to the movement of the wrist. If possible, do it with a dumbbell with just one weight attached. If you only have fixed-weight dumbbells to work with, get a similar effect by holding the handle with your little finger pressed up against the weight plate.

How to do it:

  1. Hold your dumbbell down by your side so the heavy end faces forward.
  2. Lower the heavy end of the dumbbell down toward the floor, and then, using only your wrist, lift it as high as you can.
  3. You can also do this exercise using two dumbbells at the same time.

 

7. Dumbbell Rear Lever Raise

This exercise is the opposite of #6 and is also known as dumbbell ulnar deviation, referring to the action of the wrist. Use a dumbbell with just one weight attached. If you only have fixed-weight dumbbells to work with, get a similar effect by holding the handle with your thumb pressed up against the weight plate.

How to do it:

  1. Hold your dumbbell down by your side, so the heavy end faces backward.
  2. Lower the heavy end of the dumbbell down toward the floor, and then, using only your wrist, lift it as high as you can.
  3. You can also do this exercise using two dumbbells at the same time.

 

8. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk

Lifting and then carrying heavy weights is one of the most functional exercises you can do. The dumbbell farmer’s walk is a full-body exercise that also happens to be great for building bigger forearms and an unbreakable grip. Try it; you’re going to love it!

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and down by your sides, palms turned in to face your legs.
  2. Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
  3. Walk around your training area until you feel your grip is about to give out.
  4. Put your dumbbells on the floor, rest for a moment, and repeat.
  5. You can also do this exercise with just one dumbbell to increase core engagement.

 

9. Hex Dumbbell Hold and Carry

This exercise is similar to farmer’s walks, but the weights are much harder to hold. You’ll need to really use your forearms to maintain your grip, so don’t go too heavy too soon. However, you will need hex-type dumbbells for this exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Place two hex dumbbells on the floor, so they’re standing on their ends. Squat down and grab the ends of each dumbbell, not the handles.
  2. Stand up and then, with your arms straight and your hands by your sides, walk around your training area until you feel your grip is about to give out.
  3. Put your dumbbells on the floor, rest for a moment, and repeat.

 

Forearm Workouts with Dumbbells

While you COULD just add a couple of dumbbell forearm exercises onto your biceps workout, you’ll get much better results if you follow a more structured plan for your lower arms.

Here are three different workouts to try. Pick one and do it for a few weeks before switching or all three in rotation to keep your forearm workouts fresh and productive – it’s up to you!

Dumbbell Forearm Workout #1

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Wrist curls 3 12-15 90 seconds
2 Hammer curls 3 8-12 90 seconds
3 Farmer’s walk 3 20-30 yards 90 seconds

Dumbbell Forearm Workout #2

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Reverse wrist curls 3 12-15 90 seconds
2 Zottman curls 3 8-12 90 seconds
3 Rear lever raise 3 12-15 90 seconds
4 Front lever raise 3 12-15 90 seconds

Dumbbell Forearm Workout #3

# Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Hammer curl 3 8-12 90 seconds
2 Wrist curl 3 12-15 90 seconds
3 Reverse wrist curl 3 12-15 90 seconds
4 Hex dumbbell hold and carry 3 20-30 yards 90 seconds

Wrapping Up

While the forearms aren’t the most exciting muscle group to train, they can be one of the most impressive when properly developed. They’re also the muscle that people are most likely to notice when you are wearing a T-shirt.

In addition to looking good, muscular forearms will add a lot to your workouts, especially during exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, pulldowns, and rows. The more unbreakable your grip is, the more weight you’ll be able to lift, the more reps you’ll be able to perform, and the better your results will be.

So, don’t leave your forearm development to chance. Instead, train them hard and often using these nine excellent dumbbell forearm exercises and our tried-and-tested forearm workouts.

References: 

1 – PubMed: Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Forearm Muscles https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

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