forearms the only muscle you need

How can you grow your skinny forearms? Build massive, veiny forearms!

So you have skinny forearms and want to grow massive and veiny forearms?

I’m going to be honest, I love forearm muscles. If I was given the choice to train only one muscle, I would probably focus on forearms. Why? Because they offer that aesthetic pleasing look straight from the start, whether you regularly gym or not.

Someone with good forearms always projects this athletic physique look from first glance. Forearms are most of the time uncovered and highly visible – when shaking hands all day long, for instance.

I’ve talked to people many times about this – they agree most of the time: if you only have developed forearms, it doesn’t look weird – as opposed to only having big legs development or a big chest development. With forearms – you just look solid!

Some people don’t bother going to the gym yet look muscular, because they have got these massive and veiny forearms, like builders or your local physiotherapist.

physiotherapists have big forearms

You’re then thinking – why the hell am I even working out this much if that guy only training his forearms look more muscular than I do? Frustrating !

Whether you’re here today because you have skinny forearms and just want bigger and veiny forearms, or you’re someone who doesn’t care about the gym but does want to go from skinny forearms to jacked forearms for that muscular athletic look – we’ve got you covered!

Ready to look like someone who will be remembered for his proper handshakes? Let’s learn the fastest ways to grow from skinny forearms to big forearms!

Is it possible to grow skinny forearms and should you train your forearms?

Forearms are a muscle and therefore they’re able to grow! Period.

Most people don’t pay attention to forearms because they’re a small muscle and we’re used to only hear and read about chest and back training plans!

If you thought you couldn’t do anything about your forearms, you’re wrong – and we have very specific methods to give you for you to grow them.

Sure, they’re small areas and targeting them might feel like a hard task, but it’s actually easy to target them and make them grow if you know what to do.

And even if you’re not someone with skinny forearms but rather developed forearms, you can still make them grow!

I repeat: forearms are very aesthetically pleasing muscles. You definitely shouldn’t miss out on them.

Seriously, everyone is fighting on Google searches over why veiny forearms are so attractive. 

Unless you hide yourself under your clothes because you suffer from some sort of bigorexia – your forearms are always on show. As mentioned in the chapter above, well-built veiny forearms simply look great, they’re a beautiful muscle that make you stand out whether you’re a gym guy or not.

Don’t.miss.out.on.them – as just discussed:

1- they’re muscles

2- they’re able to grow

3- they make you look jacked…

and last thing that we’ll discuss now, they set you apart from other trainees!

What’s not to love about that?

Building massive and veiny forearms will set you apart from others

There are a lot of reasons why you should train your forearms, and we’ve discussed some of them.

Another one I want to discuss before jumping into the topic of how to grow your forearms – is the fact that growing your forearms will set you apart from most people, and actually – most regular gym goers themselves!

You might not go to the gym as much as the average gym bro but you will have bigger forearms than them. Why? Because they never train them (but you do!). As mentioned, aesthetic and veiny forearms can make you look super jacked, and those guys in the gym are missing out!

skinny but good forearms?

The average bro thinks an arm day is enough to get bigger forearms. It is to an extent, if you do have that favorable forearm genetic potential. But for the average person, you still have to give more focus on this specific area to grow them big.

That could by the way honestly be that one good reason to train forearms for the non-regular gym goers who still want to look good. Not only are they working on a beautiful muscle, but they’re also working on a muscle no one trains (even those at the gym!).

That also applies for regular gym goers, building massive and veiny forearms will set you apart from most of the gym crowd!

Now, there are 20 forearm muscles…It’s a lot right?! 

all the forearm muscles

Gladly, it’s not like you have to isolate 20 parts one by one – if that was the case I think we would actually all give up on training forearms!

We are going to zoom out and focus on the 3 main parts which are including most of these smaller 20 muscles.

What’s the best way to grow from skinny forearms to big and veiny forearms?

Now that we saw some good reasons to train your forearms (you better be pumped up!), we’re going to see the best way to grow from skinny forearms to bigger ones. The key here is to first understand the anatomy behind them.

We can agree that in general, to be good at something requires understanding how a specific concept works at its core. So let’s understand what we’re targeting when involving our forearms.

Here are what parts of the forearm muscles to remember and to focus on: let’s have some look at the forearm anatomy.

forearms main muscles

The 3 parts we want to develop are these:

The forearm flexors, forearm extensors and the brachioradialis.

We don’t want to exclude any of them, because they actually make your forearms look great – from all angles.

We will want to use exercises that specifically target these areas and give them priority. We will give these areas enough attention with enough workload to start growing.

More priority on forearms training by specialising

Now let’s remind of the principle of specialising – which is important for small muscles like forearms if you want to see them grow.

Specialising means focusing on your training priorities by choosing what you want to train more (here forearms, for example) and prioritising which exercises you’re going to focus on to grow them (not many).

If you want to grow bigger, veiny forearms – the reality is: you have to pay attention to them more – and not by relying on your biceps or back session to hope they’ll grow fast!

Specialising means you’re actually here spending time on this new forearm priority (you’re reading this for a reason right!) and use exercises meant to grow them muscles.

Then – do enough work on them!

Not just 1 or 2 sets at the end of the session. It’s a lot better than nothing if you’re missing time, don’t give me wrong – but here we want MASSIVE forearms right?! (if you’re really missing time we’re going to see how to deal with it down the article).

Specialising by definition means you’re on the road to become a specialist of something. You want to have massive and veiny forearms, you gotta become a forearm specialist!

massive and veiny forearms

Specialising basically means prioritising and narrowing down your exercise selection to good exercises only and focus on those.

Who wants to practice useless exercises? No one! You focus on what matters, basically, and capitalise on that.

Quality and quantity are both important! Focus on quality and capitalise with quantity! Get it?

With forearms, just like with any other muscle, you want to build a good base and be lean enough so that it looks good – let’s talk about that now.

Massive and veiny forearms: the answers and focus points

As mentioned, growing your forearms is understanding their anatomy and understanding the few relevant exercises for them to grow. And then, to spend more time on forearms and give them that specific attention when you go to the gym by applying these beneficial exercises you know about.

But I hear you saying, what about veiny forearms? You mentioned veiny in the title, so you better tell us how do we get the forearm veins going on?!

Alright, alright, I’m on it!

big forearm muscles

The answer to having veiny forearms varies from individuals, but usually is a question of time.

Because what’s for sure and true for everyone (genetic differences or not) is that the more years you put into training the more vascular you tend to look.

The longer you train your forearms overtime and the bigger your forearms get, the more vascular your forearms will be.

That’s true for all muscles – when training muscles, your blood circulates more in the muscles you train and your veins get larger and more visible overtime. Your muscles also get bigger and closer to the skin making your veins appear more, that’s why if you build muscle and become lean, your veins will appear (big time!).

That brings us to the second answer to getting veiny forearms: it’s obviously being lean enough.

A lower body fat will help you show your veins more.

Good news though: It’s not unusual to see people with high body fat still ripped when it comes to their forearms (which is pretty good news for people with pretty high bodyfat). Veins on forearms are natural for certain people, for others, vascular forearms take more time.

veiny and lean forearms at high bodyfat

But overall, forearms are a pretty veiny muscle, since storing fat in this area is less likely than other areas (like your belly!). As mentioned, the leaner you are, the more veins you see – and as forearms are a “hard-to-store fat” muscle, it makes sense veins are more likely to show there.

That’s not an excuse not to have a balanced diet! But if you’re naturally quite lean in this area, that’s a plus! There are a lot of veins in forearms which is one of the main aesthetic characteristics you should aim for!

We’re not going to lie, that’s also another stroke of luck for some people when it comes to easy veiny aesthetics. You could already have veiny forearms or have veins showing after a few months of training already! Although we can do actions that will help us be more vascular and which are true for everyone – we simply can’t deny some individuals have good veins just thanks to the genetic lottery.

Now that we know the fundamentals of growing big and veiny forearms and that it’s about a bigger focus on them and eventually pursuing a rather low bodyfat (to show them veins!) – we’re going to see what exercises to use to make the magic happen!

Finding the best exercises to grow them massive and veiny forearms!

First, before presenting you the best forearm exercises – let’s remind: what are good exercises?

In terms of building muscle, you have to find exercises that are efficient, that will give you the best bang for your buck – ones that offer a good stretch. 

We also have to specialise – once you find a great exercise, you want to do more sets with this specific exercise and not diversify them too much! Have your full focus on that one or two exercises only and hammer your desired body part with these!

lean and veiny forearms

It’s advisable to do three exercises for big muscle groups like your back, because back is such a vast muscle! But for the forearms there is not much point in finding 2-3 variants to target the flexors, for example. We just need one exercise per forearm muscle part (one for the flexors, extensors, and brachioradialis).

Stick to one exercise per angle, a good one – and do more sets on that exercise rather than a couple of sets with ton of different exercises – again, specialise!

Anyway, luckily, there aren’t many exercises for forearms, so you won’t fall for the “too many exercises” mistake.

The list of best exercises to grow your forearms

Here is a list of the best exercises you should do at the gym or that you can do at home with your own dumbbells/barbells (if you don’t have dumbbells, you can find inspiration for some alternatives in our home-workout guide):

  • Palm down wrist extensions
  • Palm up wrist curls
  • Reverse curls

These are ‘stereotypical’ exercises, but hey – they do offer a good stretch and they actually are the best ones. As simple as these exercises might seem, we believe they are some of the most efficient. Basics in bodybuilding are always what work best anyway! It’s not the first time I mention that.

best exercises for forearms

Regarding forearms training, the further you bring your arms forward and parallel to the ground for wrist curls/extensions, the better. The stretch will be more accentuated this way. No more skinny forearms.

Always think about gravity and resistance!

Should I do high reps or low reps to train and grow my forearms?

You should train forearms like any other muscle.

I know it might just not feel right to go heavy on forearms, because the range of motion and leverage is limited – but you still have to push it and try to progress and go relatively heavy. 

Now, the answer to whether to go heavy or not is… it depends.

There is an important factor that come into place, wrists are sensible – and if you are one to have sensible wrists, heavy forearm training is probably not something for you. But by any means, you shouldn’t not go heavy because you stereotypically heard “it’s not for small muscles”. And for most people, it’s just about making sure to practice good wrist mobility, warm-up, awareness – to never feel wrist pain.

warm up your wrists to avoid wrist pain when training forearms
wrists can be sensible, unless you do what’s right!

Now, the truth and good thing is that you can improve and progressive overload with any type of rep schemes, so whether you choose to go ‘heavy/low reps’ or ‘high reps/lighter’, you still have a way to improve.

If you practice rep ranges of 20 reps for a certain weight and manage to do 30 reps a few weeks later, you’ve progressed.

high reps for forearms training

So why go heavy anyway if I can progress with high rep ranges, you’re saying?

Going heavy and doing some strength work, in my opinion, accelerates your progression – meaning that you get stronger quicker on the movement and you can then (re)use this strength when doing higher reps (where you work your hypertrophy and build the muscle). Your strength transfers to your isolation/hypertrophy oriented goals.

Heavy loading also offers very intense stretching to the muscle and gives a positive response to hypertrophy – in the 6-10 rep range.

With forearms, 6-10 reps might not give you enough time to feel the muscle working, but this is the same for most muscles when training with this low rep range anyway… The pump isn’t particularly an indication of a good workout anyway, I bring you back to this article. If you have a good stretch and a negative and positive phase, you’re good to go, pump or not.

So the answer to whether you should do high reps or low reps with forearms remains that – it depends.

If you have the mobility, that you warm-up well both your wrists and forearms – you should be able to enjoy the 6-10 rep range on an exercise like reverse curls (and even wrist flexions and extensions).

Whether you can go heavy or not, you should still implement some higher rep schemes after your heavy strength work.

You basically (1), either go for low reps AND high reps, or (2) you only work with high reps if you can’t do the heavy stuff for the reasons we discussed (or any other subjective reasons).

Either way, the most important is that you keep track of your routine and measure what you do (sets, reps, weight).

I don’t care whether you do low reps or high reps, you need to improve overtime, that’s the most important factor, progress on the reps/weight.

As with everything else, progression is key. So if the number of reps or the weight is increasing, you’re doing it right, whether that is with low rep ranges or higher rep ranges (high rep ranges are, to a degree, always necessary to implement if you’re a bodybuilder to build the muscle with the acquired strength).

High reps are interesting but please, measure and keep track of them

A bit more emphasis on higher rep work for advanced lifters (20+ rep ranges), (and for anyone in general).

One thing that is evident is that high reps can be very beneficial, not because it’s “the magic” to build muscle, but because by doing high rep training, you train your muscles to be more responsive. 

Some people have lagging muscles and high reps can be very beneficial to improve their weakest part or to over-emphasize an area. By doing high rep work on lagging muscles, you drive blood in this area more often and train your muscle to be more responsive and you prepare them for the heavier sessions.

That’s why I’ve written an article on practicing sets of hundred reps. I learnt this from good natural bodybuilders and this theory always stayed with me. I love it, enjoy practicing it, and believe it to be very true.

If you’re in a case where forearms aren’t your best muscle, you could try to schedule one big heavy session a week for your forearms and 2 other sessions where you just do very high rep sets (20-100 range), learning how to feel your forearms and drive blood there regularly.

Whether you should go to failure is decided based on your experience and how you feel. You can read more about the topic of going to failure or not here.

If you’re doing high reps in the 20+ rep range, track your reps. People usually track low rep ranges because it’s easy to count and remember, but the same should be done with higher reps.

I understand people can’t be bothered counting and writing down that they’ve done 52 reps – but if you don’t count them and only rely on the “burn” & “feel”, you’re not going to know when you improve.

While people don’t make such a mistake with lower rep ranges, they really suck at tracking with higher rep ranges – although it’s super important.

If you’ve done 52 reps to failure on your wrist curls, try to get to 60 the next time, and you will know you have improved.

Otherwise, don’t measure them and never improve… it’s up to you – I’ve warned you!

It doesn’t take much time to track yet it makes a whole difference – that’s what we call a quick win!

What kind of forearm workout routine?

Warning (again)! – first things first: make sure you start with a good warm up, (I’m watching you).

Seriously –

I’m watching you.

We want to avoid any forearm muscle pain or wrist pain in the long run – it is essential to warm up your wrists and make sure you’re ready before moving on to heavier sets.

warm up before training forearms

Just because it’s a small muscle ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT MEAN your warm-up should be neglected. So, give it a few warm-up sets.

Now, let’s look at two different set-ups: a routine for those who go to the gym and want to prioritise forearms training more, and one for those who do not want to go to the gym (train at home, for example) but just want to be that guy with big forearms – let’s call that, the forearm guy (I’m destroying the English language, I know).

Case 1: I just want to be the… “forearms guy

Focus on the best exercises, seriously, you’re at home, you don’t have many variations – stick to wrists curls/extensions for both the flexors and the extensors. If you have limited weight, for example a pair of dumbbells 20kg each – wrist curls/extensions are the best thing you can do.

They’re exercises that don’t require a lot of weight unlike it can be with reverse curls with a barbell – that’s why if you have limited weight at home, you should always rely on exercises where you can go heavy with not so much weight (which means it’s usually highly isolating movements).

Lateral raises for shoulders is a good example: a beginner with a 10kgs pair of dumbbell can improve a long way with lateral raises at home although he only has 20kg worth of weight. It’s an exercise which doesn’t need a lot of weight to feel/be heavy!

If you’re limited in terms of weight at home with your dumbbells, what you want to do is prioritize trackable high rep work, since it might not be heavy enough.

Aim for at least 1 strength low rep session a week if you have the weights and two high rep sessions a week. Otherwise go for 3 high rep sessions a week where you make sure to measure your program.

Your routine could go like this:

Monday: high rep work, 10 sets palm-down curls/palm-up curls

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: heavy work, 10 heavy sets palm-down curls/ 10 heavy sets palm-up curls

Friday: rest

Saturday: high rep work, 10 sets palm-down curls/palm-up curls

Sunday: rest

Of course if you have heavier stuff at home and feel comfortable with your wrists, feel free to actually do more than one heavy forearm sessions, perhaps 2.

Case 2: you do go to the gym and (finally) want to start prioritizing forearms training

If you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume that you want big forearms…

But what if you genuinely don’t have time to work on your forearms?

You might really want to do them, but at the same time – you’d rather work on bigger muscles which actually show your “overall frame” progress. 

The only issue with forearms is that it does take time to train them, like any other muscles – and unlike the bloody “forearms guy”, you spend time and energy on building other muscles.

That’s why programming intelligently makes even more sense here.

The best exercises to focus on at the gym could be:

  • Palm down wrist curls
  • Palm up wrist curls
  • (Reverse barbell curls)
  • (Standing behind the back wrist curls)

For example, let’s suppose you are training back twice a week and biceps once. They’re the muscle days that involve your forearms the most, so you have to be smart with them and include your forearms the same day. This way your forearms will recover well between their sessions and grow.

Your days could look like this:

Monday: One of your back days + high rep palm-down curls/ palm-up curls for forearms

Tuesday: (Your usual training plan, be it anything apart from biceps and back, obviously)

Wednesday: Your biceps day + high rep palm-up curls/palm down curls for forearms

Thursday: (Your usual training plan, be it anything apart from biceps and back, obviously)

Friday: One of your back days: 5 heavy sets reverse barbell curls/ 5 heavy sets palm-down curls/ 5 heavy sets palm-up curls for forearms

Saturday: (Your usual training plan, be it anything apart from biceps and back, obviously)

Sunday: (Your usual training plan, be it anything apart from biceps and back, obviously)

The plan is to program smart as shown above, you train your forearms as much as possible while giving them enough rest in between the sessions. That’s what I recommend.

As I mentioned at the start of the article, what if you can only do 2 sets of forearms at the end of your session because you genuinely lack time to more for them. That forearms are important to you but not as much as others? Then time is your friend. Sure, 2 sets at the end of the session is not incredible, but over a period of 2, 3 or more years, this will certainly make a big difference.

You’ll just have to be more patient. Though, try to make these 2 sets as intense as possible and focus on high rep ranges in that case. Prepare your forearms to be responsive muscles for the day you will have more time to give them proper sessions.

Avoid static exercises

Although you might ‘feel the burn’ and it may sound interesting, static exercises are just not the best. They remove the stretching aspect of the movement, which we know is essential in the process of building muscle as it offers a positive and negative phase. 

Remember that just because you feel your muscles working, or that it’s burning, it does not mean you are training efficiently to build muscle.

I don’t include wrist rollers in this category, although “they could” be considered a static exercise, because I still think you stretch the muscle and that you have a way to scale progression.

is wrist roller exercise good for forearms?

But for example, if you were doing a variant of the wrist roller exercise by just holding the weight in a static position, this wouldn’t be very useful to build muscle.

Sure – resistance work is fun, if you like it do it – but if you want to build muscle pretty fast, then prioritize exercises which are dynamic and stretch.

Will my forearms grow if I don’t bulk?

It is like all muscles, the extra energy you get from a small calorie surplus helps with training and keeping that smooth momentum of regular and bigger gains.

Forearm training is not easy, but truly isn’t as demanding as bigger muscles though. So bulking most likely won’t have as much of a positive impact on your forearm development.

forearms muscle and bulking

We still recommend you to train your forearms along with a small calorie surplus diet, if you’re a gym regular and go to the gym to train your whole body. But if you only want to train your forearms and no other muscle, like the “forearm guy”, we don’t advise you to specifically bulk up for it.

How long does it take to go from skinny forearms to big and veiny forearms?

You could look jacked pretty quickly thanks to forearms training.

First because as mentioned, if you have pretty good forearms genetics to start with, you’ll have the veins going on. You’ll then just need to add some size to look more sculpted.

Then because it’s an area where storing fat is usually harder, making any progress in this area visible quicker. It takes time to build muscle, but forearms might show interesting results relatively fast! Training this muscle really is a quick-win.

before and after forearms muscle transformation

You can see your first forearm results after 1-2 months of training them locally, if you’re pretty lean for a start. Of course, growing MASSIVE forearms, will take more months/years – but compared to the average person who doesn’t train them, you can have bigger forearms than the average good lifter in 6 months to one year (if you train them hard).

Should you train your forearms everyday?

Because forearms are a small muscles, people think they should train them everyday. It also comes from the idea they might be harder to recruit because they’re hard to stretch with curl/extensions variations, truth is, if you do enough sets (both low & high rep range) and know how to properly position yourself to stretch them, only 2 sessions a week should be enough.

Just like any other muscles, you want them to rest, and because forearms are involved any day you go to the gym (specifically back, biceps) you don’t want to train them more than twice a week.

Just give them 2 good sessions a week and it will be enough. Try to program your forearm sessions in a smart way and you’ll be fine!

Set some forearm training goals and measure your forearms progress

Before anything else, set your goals. Get yourself motivated! Tracking and setting goals is always an important part of your journey, in bodybuilding and everywhere else!

Simply measure your forearms size to know where you are starting from. Numbers talk more than anything else! You will know when you have improved. Take some pictures too and compare overtime.

Also try and keep the same tempo when doing low reps and high reps when working out your forearms. This way you keep track more accurately of your progress and of what your real strength is.

Conclusion on forearms muscle building:

Now there is no excuse whatsoever NOT to build incredible forearms!

Forearms, while being a relatively small muscles – have huge potential to grow and to impress.

Whether you forearms are skinny or developed for starters, there is always a way to improve as long as you focus on progressing and tracking your forearm training.

Keep practicing the best forearm exercises and try to improve your weight load and reps overtime and you will see results. Pay more attention to forearm training if you do want them to grow bigger.

Program them intelligently in your weekly routine so you give them enough recovery before training them again and so that they don’t impact negatively your biceps or back sessions.

After a few months, you will start noticing obvious results and as we mentioned throughout the article, forearms are one aesthetic muscle that not a lot of people bother to train. You could look more jacked than advanced lifters if you decide to build massive forearms, so think about it!

If you genuinely lack time to train forearms, do your best, even two sets at the end of your session could make a huge difference over a period of 2, 3 + years.

We hope this article was helpful to you. Don’t hesitate to share it around or leave a reaction to let us know what you think.

Also, feel free to comment in the section below, we will respond and help you with your routine!