Issue #152


by Juan Carlos Lopez

20 Questions with Cover Model Renee Porter

Video Interview with Amateur Bikini Jasmin Ramirez

Renee Porter, Laiza Fret, Melissa Lovell, Shauna Cugini & Tanya Aziz

Fast Pass To Stronger Forearms
by Tina Jo Orban

Video Interview with Pro Bikini Jessica Williams



Fast Pass to Stronger Forearms by Tina Jo Orban

You don’t have to eat Spinach to have forearms like Popeye. Ok that may be a bit of hyperbole, yet anyone can train forearms for strength and size.
When it comes to training and increasing strength people spend a great deal of time on the obvious: “pecs” “lats” legs “traps” “delts” and of course the showstoppers: the biceps. Yet many people forego focus on their forearms.
Sure forearms get worked when you do just about any upper body exercises. When flexion or extension occurs at the elbows against resistance they get worked. Even when isometric tension is applied to the former, they get stressed. For example, if you train your back or biceps or chest and triceps; your elbow flexes and extends in these exercises. Thus training these generalized push/pull muscles of the upper trunk you by default train the forearms. The forearm muscles work as synergists. Sometimes they work as stabilizers to allow gleno-humeral movement (shoulder joint). But what if you want stronger, bigger forearms— so as to specifically increase their size and strength? There are indeed unique exercises to focus on achieving forearm mass! The forearm—Latin anatomical name antebrachium— consists of two bones: the radius and ulna. They rotate, or rather pivot both distally and proximally around each other. Thanks to the pronator muscles and the biceps! This is how we can move our arms from supination to pronation. Your grip does matter.  Depending on whether you are supinated or pronated performing flexion and extension targets different muscles. Besides aesthetics (i.e., a proportioned physique) WHY would you want bigger forearms? In a word strength! And in another word SIZE. Size does matter. Having strong forearms allows you to have a party-trick up your sleeve (literally) to blast someon at arm wrestling. If you specifically strengthen your forearms you can maximize the loads you can handle for other upper body exercises before they fatigue. Have you ever been doing dumbbell rows, pull-ups or chins and those wimpy forearms start burning (lactic acid build-up) because they are weak? This is to the detriment of your other upper body training as you fatigue before you can really max out larger stronger muscles groups.

You need focused forearm work in my opinion. Here are some great exercises that not only will allow you to be the HERO in the kitchen opening any jar, but will also improve your other workouts for upper body by allowing you to finish your sets and reps!

First let’s just cover the basics of the main muscles of the forearm. On the posterior portion (hand’s backside) exists the brachioradialis. That is a mouthful. It is very visible in lean people even when it is not that developed. Next to that, we have the wrist extensors: extensor carpi radialis longus, extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor digitorum (this allows you to make the “death claw” –or if your nicer play piano or keyboard as I am doing now) and finally the extensor carpi ulnaris.  Sorry for all the Latin. In general, these muscles allow for wrist and digit extension. They originate on the lateral part of the distal end of the humerus. That means yes they cross both the elbow joint and the wrist joint. This is what we call compound joint muscles. Anyhow they extend the wrist back. For example, they would work to pull the hand back so you can wave hello to the Queen.
The brachioradialis on the posterior is of extreme importance when considering isolated forearm development: You should have a neutral grip such as when you perform hammer curls to target it (see below). On the anterior side or the palm side of your forearms you have the wrist and finger flexors. If you have a weak grip – these are the muscles you’ll want to work on: from medial to lateral are the: flexor carpi ulnaris (pinky side) in the middle you have palmaris longus, and lateral to that is the flexor carpi radialis (thumb side). I wont bog you down with all the origins and insertions. Yet akin to the extensors— in general originate at the humerus this time medially (on the inside elbow). They cross the elbow joint and the wrist joint (radio-carpal) and insert various places in the palms and bones of the fingers.

With this quick anatomy lesson, one can figure elbow flexion and extension and MORE IMPORTANTLY wrist flexion and extension target YOUR forearm muscles. There are a plethora of arm exercises[1] , but below are my top four.

Here are the exercises:

Number One Hammer Curls.
Besides working brachialis, an upper arm muscle that adds bulk under the bicep you hit the brachioradialis. This is because of its origin and insertion. In neutral grip the brachioradialis takes a lot of the load.

Sets: 3 to 4 (pyramid or super set— it does not matter) but go heavy. Keep the weight down around 8-10 reps range with good form. That means you should be able to complete the set with good form but you would not be able to do another rep past number ten.
Rest: 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat.

Number Two: Weighted Wrist Curls. This exercise does not look very dynamic and it will un-impress most gym-goers loitering around you. However, it is a badass exercise to increase your forearms strength and no jar will ever be sealed to you. 
In a seated position with your elbows on your knees take a dumbbell or barbell. Again heavy resistance and flex your palms gripping the bar/dumbell upward.
Sets:  3-4

Reps: 8-10 with good form and curl that weight! You’ll want to feely your forearms burn.
Rest: 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat.

Number Three:  Reverse Wrist Curls.  Basically the same exercise as above—
but you now have your forearms palm down and thus your grip prone. Extend your wrist. This means the backside of your hand moves up toward the sky. Same deal.
Sets: 3-4
Reps: 8-10 with good form.
Rest: 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat.

Number Four: Reverse Barbell Curls:

Sets: 3-4
Reps: 8-10
Standing, grab a barbell with soft flexed knees, place feet hip-width apart and reverse curl the bar. (It should look like a barbell curl but your grip is pronated (*note a wider grip tends to be easier on your wrists). Now Curl. Slow concentric and eccentric motions (raise and lowering).
Now go give Popeye a run for his money.

[1] The Twenty Best Forearm Exercises of All Time. Men’s Fitness article. 22, Oct. 2017.


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