6 Effective Barbell Forearm Exercises

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Barbell workouts can offer you impressive benefits for many muscles but what are some forearm exercises you can do with a barbell?

A barbell is a long bar that can hold weight plates. It is one of the most popular types of gym equipment, and for a good reason. Barbells can play a role in many exercises for a wide variety of muscles.

When they hear the words arm muscles, most people think about huge biceps and massive triceps. While these make up a big part of the arm muscle mass you don’t want to forget about your forearm muscles.

While you definitely train your forearm muscles with heavy lifts like deadlifts and exercises on the pull-up bar, you can also do specific exercises with a barbell to train this part of your arm.

A barbell is not the ideal piece of forearm exercise equipment but you can definitely still use it for this goal. If you have dumbbells available these may be even more helpful.

Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. Especially if you have a history of wrist issues you may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.

1. Wrist curls

To do one palm-up wrist curl repetition take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Your hands hold a barbell with a supinated grip which means with your hand palms facing forward in starting position.
  2. Bring your lower arms upward until they are in a horizontal position.
  3. Slowly tilt your hands downward as far as you comfortably can. Keep your lower arms and the rest of your body in the same position during the rest of the exercise.
  4. Tilt your hands upward as far as you comfortably can in a controlled motion.

If you notice that you use the rest of your arm or body to move the weight up and down you can sit down somewhere and place your lower arms on your upper legs. That way it becomes a lot easier to make the exercise focus only on your lower arms.

By changing the rotation of your lower arm when doing wrist curls you engage different parts. The palm-up version engages the lower arm muscles at the side of your hand palms. The palm-down version engages the opposite lower arm muscles.

2. Reverse curls

At first, most bicep curls may look more or less the same. However, by making small changes in grip and upward motion you change on what arm muscles you focus. To do a reverse curl take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Your hands hold a barbell with a pronated grip which means with your hand palms facing backward in starting position.
  2. Slowly fold your arms at the elbows as far as you can. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower the barbell back into starting position in a controlled motion.

By doing this exercise with a reverse grip you focus more on your brachioradialis, a forearm muscle and less on your biceps brachii, the muscle most people think of when hearing the word bicep.

3. Landmine wrist swings

For this next exercise you need a landmine setup. This is an attachment that secures a barbell at the ground level. The landmine setup opens the door to exercises like landmine wrist swings. To do a landmine wrist swing take the following steps:

  1. Set up the landmine with the desired number of plates. Stand upright with your face toward the landmine.
  2. Grab the end of the barbell with one hand with a neutral grip, so hand palm pointing to the center/upward. For the exercise you likely want to bring your arm slightly outward so your wrist has room to move.
  3. Slowly curl the barbell outward and upward as far as comfortable while only moving your wrist.
  4. Slowly curl the barbell inward and upward similarly.
  5. Repeat the same number of swings with your other hand.

Landmine wrist swings are basically a combination of the two types of wrist swings. This barbell exercise engages both sides of the forearm in a single exercise.

Do not forget to do the same number of repetitions with your other hand to avoid muscle imbalances.

4. Barbell twist

The barbell twist is a relatively straightforward forearm exercise. Start by holding the barbell in both of your hands in your favorite position. After that, to do the exercise your turn the bar with each hand alternately in one direction.

You can either time it or do a certain number of turns. Next, you want to turn more or less the same amount in the opposite direction.

While it sounds, looks, and is simple, barbell twists can definitely offer a great workout for a wide variety of forearm muscles.

5. Front & back wrist lifts

To do a front & back wrist lift take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms hanging beside you. Each hand holds a barbell in the middle with a neutral grip which means with your hand palms facing each other.
  2. Lift the front part of the barbells upward as far as you safely can.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Lift the back of the barbell upward as far as you safely can.
  5. Return to starting position.

You can also do this exercise only with the front lift or only with the back lift.

Front & back lifts are an exercise where the barbell is far from the ideal free weight. Other weights like dumbbells or kettlebells are a lot more convenient.

6. Farmer’s walk

The farmer’s walk is a resistance training exercise where you simply pick up two barbells with your hands in the middle of the bar from the ground and walk a certain distance or time.

Make sure you keep your posture upright and your palms facing your body.

This movement engages a wide variety of muscles like your forearm muscles, trapezius muscles, calves, quadriceps, core, glutes, and hamstrings.

If you want to focus only on your forearm muscle endurance you can also stick to a regular standing barbell hold.

This last barbell forearm exercise is another example where other barbell equipment alternatives can be a lot more convenient. These won’t get in the way of your leg movements as much as a barbell.

Some examples of better farmer’s walk equipment include farmer’s walk handles, sandbags, dumbbells, weight plates, etc.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.