When you have been lifting a year or so, its time to start working out forearms. Many people like doing forearms because big, veiny muscular forearms look really cool sticking out of a t-shirt. A better reason to do forearms is to keep the strength of all muscles in proportion because odd injuries can occur when one muscle gets out of proportion strong compared to adjacent muscles.
One of the most common overuse injuries that athletes get is tendonitis and elbow is the most likely place you will get it. The reason I mention this is that working out forearms is one of the things that can really make tendonitis flare up, especially the exercises done with palms down. If you are prone to tendonitis or are recovering from it, just do the palms up wrist dumbbell curls.
There are three forearm exercises shown here, two are with the palm down and one is with the palm up.
Reverse Barbell Curls
These are great to do at the end of your arm workout – shaving or brushing your teeth is really tough after doing these! This exercise is done with the palms facing down as indicated with the red arrow in the below photo. As I mentioned before, this exercise can make tendonitis in the elbow flare up so be careful if you are prone to overuse injuries. Start out with a really light weight and use slow deliberate form. These can be done either standing or seated, I prefer seated because it keeps you from cheating. If you stand while doing this, make sure that your torso is completely motionless. Many people tend to rock their bodies forward and back to swing and jerk the weight around. I suggest doing these at the end of your arm workout when your biceps are good and weak, that way, even though the biceps is stronger than the forearm they are both worked out evenly.
Starting Position: use an overhand grip making the palms face down.
Ending Position: Raise the bar slowly and steadily – yikes what a forearm pump. Keep it slow, 2s up and 2s down. Make sure your torso is completely stationary, no jerking or bouncing.
Palms Down Dumbbell Wrist Curls
This exercise is done with light dumbbells. The only motion here is your wrist moving from the down 45 degrees position to the up 45 degrees position. Its best done with the forearms resting lightly on something. If you have a bench you can get on your knees and use the bench to steady your forearms so you can do both arms at the same time. You can also sit in a chair, spread your legs wide and rest your forearms on your quads with the dumbbells nearly meeting between your legs. Again if you are susceptible to elbow tendonitis skip this exercise and move to the next one.
Starting Position: in the down position, the wrist is drooping at about 45 degrees and your palms are facing the floor. The back of the hands should be horizontal. If this position bothers your wrist or elbow then try raising the thumb slightly higher than that pinky. Now slowly raise the weight to the up position. The forearms remain motionless in this exercise, only the wrists move.
Ending Position: he wrist is angled up at about 45 degrees. The palms are still facing the floor and the back of the hand is still horizontal or slightly higher on the thumb side. Now repeat.
Palms Up Dumbbell Wrist Curls
OK, finally a forearm exercise with the palms up so we can give those poor tendons in the elbows a break. This wrist curl is similar to the above palm down dumbbell wrist curl except our palms are basically facing upward. Again, use a weight bench if you have one to rest your forearms on or sit with spread legs in a chair and rest your forearms on your quads.
Starting Position: In the down position, the wrist is drooping at about 45 degrees and your palms are facing upwards. Your hands should not be horizontal, that’s too awkward. The thumb side of your palm should be about 2″ higher than the pinky side. Now slowly raise the weight to the up position. The forearms remain motionless in this exercise, only the wrists move.
Ending Position: In the up position, the wrist is angled upward at about 45 degrees. The palms are still facing upward. Now lower the dumbbells slowly and repeat.