Plus a Bonus "WOD" to Boot
When I was younger, and first starting in bodybuilding—I'm afraid I often refer to, and think of, the '90s as the "good ol' days" here on the blog—I read quite a few articles on building muscular, large forearms. They were often accompanied by pictures of some of the '90s bodybuilding superstars with the best forearm development—Lee Priest comes to mind. These articles often featured workout routines for the forearm muscles that were similar to workout programs for other muscles. In other words, they were programs with multiple sets of multiple reps, featuring multiple exercises. Sure, the authors of these articles didn't recommend as much work for forearms as they did chest, back, legs, or arms, accepting the adage that the forearms got plenty of work from a lot of back and biceps training, but, on the whole, the programs were pretty much the same.
The kind of programs I am remembering are ones where you would do 2 to 4 sets of reverse curls, followed by 2 to 4 sets of barbell wrist curls, followed perhaps by 1 or 2 "burnout" sets of cable wrist curls—you know, just for the "pump."
In case you had any doubts in your mind (despite my love for '90s bodybuilding), no, I decidedly do not think these are good programs for building massive—not to mention strong and powerful—forearms.
I developed my forearms through one thing and one thing only—years and years of heavy deadlifts of various sorts, not to mention other heavy "pulling" movements. It worked, but it took a long time, so I think there is a better, quicker way to massive forearms, but not a way that looks anything like those '90s training articles. (One must keep in mind that my forearm development was simply a side-effect of my strength training. I wanted a strong grip, but I could have cared less what my forearms actually looked like.)
|C.S. Sloan's current forearm development, despite minimal training due to health issues.|
And now for your bonus "workout-of-the-day", so to speak, but please keep in mind that I think the idea of just doing a "WOD" as its currently used in some strength "training" communities is downright stupid. Unless you are a more "seasoned" (I don't want to use the word "old") lifter such as myself, then there is no way you can just randomly do whatever-the-hell it is you choose to do and ever expect to get great results. With that being said, here goes:
This is a workout I performed just 2 days ago. It is a good example of the sort of workout I have in mind for building massive forearms.
- Conventional deadlifts (with a "regular" Olympic bar): 10 sets of 5 reps. For these, use a relatively "light" weight—let's say 70% of your max, roughly—and move as fast as possible between sets while still not turning it into cardio.
- Thick-bar chins: 5 sets of 3-5 reps
- Thick-bar one-arm dumbbell deadlifts (note: I love these): 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps. These will work you very hard. A weight you can typically get 20 reps with will probably be difficult at the 6-8 rep range. (For my workout, I actually alternated these with knuckle push-ups on concrete to improve the strength and power of my fists, but I'm not recommended that here.)
- Thick-bar farmer's walk: 3 sets to distance (pick your poison) using the same weight as the one-arm dumbbell deadlifts.
I finished this workout with 10 minutes hitting the heavy bag, and another 20 minutes of steady martial arts work, followed by a few sets of sprints with minimal rest between sets (the doctor told me to get more conventional cardio, and this is as "conventional" as I ever plan to get). There is no need for you to do that if you try this workout. Word of caution strongly needed: If you haven't performed some thick-bar work before this, be very careful about just "jumping in", otherwise, your forearms will be very sore the following days after the workout.
Until next time, stay strong and lift something heavy!