Many bodybuilders complain that they cannot bring their lower arms up as they can’t complete a set, especially a high repetition or heavy duty set, their forearms “blow up” and fatigue earlier than the muscle they are supposed to be working. This can happen with exercises like chins, curls, and even upright rowing, and it’s largely due to the individual’s particular arrangement of muscle origins and insertions. Of course it is a source of annoyance to those who experience it, but those of us with puny, underdeveloped forearms would love them to blow up while we are doing sundry exercises, because our lower arms cannot be galvanised into significant development however hard we try.
There is not a great deal you can do with the natural shape of the forearms, because the forearms are in virtually constant use and have therefore developed a resistance to moderate exercise, they should be worked hard and with a system of high (10 – 20) repetitions. However, subjecting your forearms to progressive training is even more important than the repetition count. You will get nowhere by simply performing a few wrist or reverse curls at the end of your arm workout. You have to attack your forearms with a planned campaign of ever-increasing workloads. Then you will reap the rewards of your disciplined endeavour.
As times change, there is a requirement for specialised attention where most bodybuilders find time to train their forearms two or three times a week. The best exercises are as follows; Wrist Curls, as they work the flexors (the belly) of the forearm. Perform them in a seated position, with your lower arms resting on your knees (palms up) or on the top of a bench. Your hands must be free. Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps his elbows to be comfortably apart, anything from 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45cm). Moving only your wrist, curl the weight upwards until your forearm is fully contracted. Allow the barbell to lower under control and you may allow your fingers to “unroll” to some extent, but this is optional.
The reverse curl, stand erect, holding a barbell at slightly more than shoulder width. Allow the arms to hang down straight, elbows at your side, hands over gripped (knuckles up). As you curl the barbell, keep your wrists straight and level with your forearms and keep your elbows tucked in. Then lower, and repeat. You will feel this exercise in the upper forearm, near the elbows.
Finally there is the reverse wrist curl, this exercise is performed in the same manner as the regular wrist curl, but your palms should face downwards instead of upwards. Also, you will be able to use less than half the weight in the reverse wrist curl. Most people find it more comfortable to keep the arms at least 12 inches (30 cm) apart in this variation.