Ask a Coach: Forearm Fixes

The road to meatier forearms and a manlier grip starts with the routines and tips that follow.

Every strength coach has their favorite tactic for addressing grip strength. Here’s what these three had to say.

“For overall grip strength, things like farmer’s walks and plate-pinch grips are all great! What I really like to do are heavy pulling with no straps. Exercises such as heavy dumbbell and barbell rows and pull-ups are great for developing significant grip strength. At the end of a pull-up session, I will hang onto the bar for as long as I can at the bottom of the final rep until my grip totally fails.”

Justin Grinnell, CSCS, owner of State of Fitness in Michigan

“Take a towel and throw it over a pull-up bar and do pull-ups gripping the towel, not the bar. If you are not able to do a pull-up, even a static hold can help build tremendous grip strength. But remember, there is always more muscle growth with movement rather than a static hold. Do pull-ups in this fashion for five sets of five reps. If you can add weight, do it. If you are unable to do any pull-ups at all, do five sets of static holds on the towel for max time.”

Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS, owner of and author of Jailhouse Strong

“My favorite grip training move would have to be farmer’s carries. They build strength and muscular endurance of more than just the muscles of the hands and forearms — they’re also fantastic for shoulder and trap development, and require involvement of all the postural muscles, too. To do them, simply pick up a weight in the form of dumbbells or a trap/hex bar that would be a fair challenge for 10 deadlifts. Be sure to stand tall and walk forward with that weight, using short, quick strides. Don’t slouch. For forearm and grip strength and endurance, aim for time rather than distance. A good place to start is 30 seconds. Each week, add 10 seconds to your total. This is a great movement to perform as a finisher, since it involves fatiguing grip strength, which is very important when training other muscle groups. This will be the best way to end a workout rather than starting one. I like programming three sets of walks postworkout as a metabolic end point.”

Lee Boyce, CPT (