Listen to this conversation I had recently with one of our clients Emil Giordano. It’s a perfect explanation of how to build some incredible Forearms.
“Larry, there is no way I can use the weight you are suggesting for me to use on forearms.”
“I know Emil. It takes time to build up to the weights I suggested, but be patient. You probably haven’t been doing much forearm work.”
“Yes, I have been, but the weights I’ve been using are less than half the amount you gave me. Especially the ones you have for the “palms up” exercises. Some of them are three times heavier.”
“Tell me exactly how you’ve been doing the palms up exercises, Emil.” “Are you doing the exercise with the thumbs on the same side of the bar as the fingers?”
“Yes, I wouldn’t be able to use as much weight as I am now if I had my thumbs wrapped around the bar”.
“Yes, you’re right,” I explained. “The thumbs have power themselves, that’s why you’re stronger when you keep them on the same side as fingers. Besides, you can curl the bar higher when the thumb is under the bar.
What kind of a bench are you using?” I continued.
“Oh, just a regular flat bench.”
“That’s it Emil! The normal flat bench just won’t do. There is no way you are going to be able to handle heavy weight using a regular flat bench. You have to get your knees around the bench and the hips lower than the forearms so the biceps and the pecs can help you use some big iron. When you use a regular flat bench, you have to place the forearms way out on the bench just to keep the plates from hitting the bench. Not only that, there just isn’t any way to get the heavy bar into position across a flat bench.
That’s why you can’t use any weight!. You can always straddle the bench with your forearms off the end, this is better than placing your forearms across a bench but it still limits your strength because your hips are now above the forearms, so it’s almost impossible to use any bicep or body “English” to help you with the tough reps.
Another thing to remember is … the heavy reps are not full reps. They may be only 1/4 or 1/8th reps.”
The heavy weights are for building tendon strength as well as confidence. The lighter weights are the only ones that you do full reps with.
You see, the purpose of working forearms, besides the fact that you want to build some giant forearms, is to build the power so you can do heavy bicep curls. This is how you get great arms. You can’t use heavy weights on bicep curls unless you can get the wrist curled at the beginning of the movement. This is the real limiter on biceps size.
You’ve got to work on those forearms until your wrist tendons are as thick as pencils. This takes some big iron.
“Notice how I can get my hips low and knees around the bench. This gives you more power.”
As the weights get heavier and heavier, the movement becomes less of a full repetition until finally you may be doing no more than just holding the weight with the wrist in the up position and doing crunches. Most of what you are trying to do is get over the fear of using big weights.
“I can remember when 135 pound wrist curls used to scare me. Now I warm up with 135, but remember I have been doing this for a long time Emil”.
Emil, let me go over the whole routine to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything else. Start off with the heavy weight and do 20 reps with as full a movement as possible. If you cannot do full reps, it doesn’t matter just do what you can. Also, it helps to get the bar as high up on the palm as possible this will give you more power. After you’ve completed 20 reps with the heavy weight, use the lighter bar and let the bar roll all the way down to the tips of the fingers for another 20 reps. This will set your forearms on fire.