Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Four Forearm Routines - Larry Scott
Four Forearm Routines
by Larry Scott
A video including use of the wrist curling bench can be seen by clicking here -
Although the biceps are the most popular of all the muscles on the male physique, they have a close rival. It is hard to find a muscle with more impact on the eye than a mighty forearm laced with deep blue veins.
I have always been a nut for arms, but it was Bill Pearl who really got me fascinated with forearms. Like it was yesterday, I remember dropping by his gym in Los Angeles, then located on Melrose Avenue in a semi-rundown area of town. With a light feeling of butterflies in my stomach, I pushed open the door of his gym to finally meet one of my real "heroes."
Bill greeted me with a warm hello and extended his hand to shake mine. He was wearing a loose fitting red sweatshirt which at one time had been a long sleeved shirt. The sleeves had been torn off, leaving frayed edges which just covered his elbows and lower biceps. There was nothing of his arm showing but his forearms.
I had won Mr. America at this point, so I subconsciously intended to pose a little, conducting myself the way a Mr. America should. But, I hadn't prepared myself for the shock of seeing his forearms. Most fellows never realized just how big they were, because his upper arms were so huge one couldn't appreciate the massiveness of his forearms. In photos his arms looked well balanced.
I couldn't contain myself. While still holding his hand, I grabbed his forearm with my other hand to verify to my mind the information coming from my eyes.
"Look at those forearms! How did you get those forearms, Bill?" I salivated.
"We do a few wrist curls," Bill modestly replied, extricating himself from my grasp.
Suddenly I began to feel like I had rapiers for forearms. I stumbled around the gym with thoughts tumbling through my head picking up secrets of forearm bombing.
Over the years my forearms also grew and now provide me with a real sense of satisfaction. Probably even more so than the upper arm because they are always in view, even in a short sleeve shirt.
The following routines will do the same for yours if you diligently apply yourself to the advice I am about to give you.
I am sorry to say these routines are not designed for the beginner. They are painful, gutbusting, tough routines, designed to build big forearms. I know it can be done using these very exercises because I have done it. However, it does not happen overnight. Forearms are difficult, stubborn, and training them is downright painful, but it is a sweet pain and one that is endurable.
If you are just beginning to consider training the forearms to build wrist wrestling power, I suggest you ease into it. If 3 or 4 series are suggested, you may want to do only 1 or 2 until you get used to it. Once you have toned the muscle to where it does not get sore the next day from the punishment, you are ready to pull out the stops and really start developing some forearm power.
Olympic bar and plates
"EZ" curl bar
Preacher bench curling machine
Wrist curling bench
Olympic Bar and Plates - As you increase the weight, and even at the beginning, you need a smooth revolving bar. If the plates stick to the bar you will not be able to do the exercise properly. It is important to have a smooth revolving bar such as one finds on an Olympic set!
Barbell - The light wrist curl can be done adequately with a standard barbell if the plates are loose and do not stick to the bar.
Preacher Bench - But it if you don't have one. If you can't afford to buy one, design your own.
Lat Machine - You will need this piece of equipment to work the biceps, forearm, and frontal deltoid in what perhaps is the purest arm wrestling exercise known. Ideally the pulley should be adjustable to about 4 or 5 feet off the ground. If this is not possible, a standard lat machine will suffice.
"EZ" Curl Bar - A standard "S" bar, "EZ" curl bar or whatever you have heard it called will be needed to go through routine #2.
Preacher Bench Curling Machine - This piece of equipment is terrific, but is almost always used incorrectly. If used properly, however, it is really a "secret" piece of equipment for developing the top of the forearm (Brachioradialis). I will discuss later the proper method of using the curling machine.
Dumbells - Nothing complicated here. Any good set of dumbells will do.
Wrist Roller - This is a snap for the do-it-yourselfer. A one and a half foot piece of one and one half inch pole or doweling is needed. Tie a three foot piece of rope to it, or better yet, drill a hole through it. This will keep the rope from slipping and avoid frustration.
Wrist Curling Bench - This is probably the most important piece of equipment in forearm development, yet is by far the most overlooked. Even the top physique stars are still working forearms across a bench or off the end of a standard workout bench. It is wrong, wrong, wrong. Don't do it. Make a small bench just as I explain it and you will really enjoy gains in forearm development long after the "standard bench guys" have gotten "tired" of forearm work because of bad wrists, no gains, or lack of interest
Here is the key to building good forearms. Design a sturdy bench about 16 inches high and one foot square. Pad it with high density foam, not the stuff that looks four inches thick and compresses to a quarter inch when you use it. High density foam should be about one inch thick and give very little when used.
The dimensions are important. You can get your knees around a one foot bench and drop your rear end down low to get your guts into the exercise when the reps get hard.
16 inches high is just perfect to keep the 45 lb. Olympic plates from hitting the floor, and just high enough to almost pry the bar up off the floor on the first rep with the back of the forearms against the bench.
This is my favorite of all the routines. I guess I like it because it gives me the best pump of the whole group. However, some of the fellows tell me they like Routine #3 better. It all depends on the individual. I have four different routines which I have outlined for you. Each one is excellent for building strength and size in the forearm, which is the seat of arm wrestling power.
Light Wrist Curl - the forearms will grow if one can continue to really punish them. The main problem is intermittent gains due to injury in the wrist. As the weights get heavier and heavier, more strain is placed on the wrists. Sooner or later some unnatural pain will develop around the wrist on the palm, little finger side. Generally this can be attributed to improper warmups or wrong equipment. Don't neglect this vitally important part of the Routine. When you are young and enthusiastic you can get away with ignoring warmups for a short while, and then, bam, you have an injury and gains go to pot. Do about 25 to 30 light reps, letting the bar roll all the way down to the end of the fingers on some of the reps. You are just trying to loosen up the joint and prepare it for the abuse it is soon going to endure. Rest just a short while (1 or 2 minutes).
Heavy Wrist Curl With The Olympic Bar - thumbs under the bar. Let the weight down without extending your fingers. This is your power movement. Try to get 20 reps. The forearms require high reps to get the pump and burn required to force them to grow. After doing 20 reps, go immediately to the light barbell wrist curl.
Light Wrist Curl (Barbell) - This movement is done exactly like the first, except the barbell is lowered down to the fingertips. Try to do all 20 reps down all the way. It if burns too much, do the first 10 all the way down and the last 10 just like the heavy set preceding this one. After doing 20 reps, go immediately to the curling machine.
Reverse Curl On Machine - Do the movement exactly as you see my training partner Larry Inouye doing it. The bar is held in the reverse position to really attack the Brachioradialis. Do complete movements even though the middle portion is really the only time the Brachioradialis is efficient. Do one set of 6 reps and drop the weight and repeat another set; drop the weight once more and complete last set. No rest at all between sets.
Some of you sports might like to do 5 sets in this series. I personally like 5 myself, but work up to your limit. You have just completed one complete series, consisting of heavy wrist curl, light wrist curl, and "down the rack" reverse machine curl. I generally like to do about 4 or 5 series of the whole group. It it is too much for you start out with 1 or 2.
This routine is not necessarily better or worse than Routine#1, it is just different. Sometimes we get tired of something and need a change. This routine is a pleasant deviation from the first and actually can teach you something about forearm pump you didn't learn from the first routine, so stay alert.
Warm up - light wrist curl (same as Routine #1).
Heavy Wrist Curl - this movement is done exactly the same as in Routine #1 and is the real bread and butter of the forearm blaster group. Do 20 good reps. Don't be afraid to use weight heavy enough that your last 5 reps are really tough. By tough, I mean you really have to get into the bench and burn through the pain. Many times the last 5 will be partial movements, but get those 20 reps of "something". Do 20 reps and go immediately to the next exercise.
Reverse Wrist Curl - you will soon discover how weak your wrists really are. This movement will prove you to have almost no power in this position. Consequently, many fellows give up on this one because it is so demoralizing. Do 15 reps and go immediately to the next exercise.
Reverse EZ-Bar Curl - This is really going to be difficult. Your Extensor Digitorum and Extensor Carpi Ulnaris will already be humiliated with pain but will receive some needed assistance from big brother Brachioradialis. Now if you can just find some way to hang on to the bar. Do 3 sets of this movement. Keep the bar rubbing up and down the front of the body (drag curl). Bring the bar up to the nipple line and down again. Rest after doing 3 sets of "down the rack" reverse Ez-Bar curls. Complete the entire series 2 or 3 times.
This routine is almost entirely for the belly of the forearm. I could go on and impress you with all the technical terms for the muscles, but let's get on with the important part. Of all the routines, this one is most designed to be specifically for building wrist wrestling power. I really think one needs a combination of all of the routines to get a powerful arm from all aspects, but this routine really gets down to the basics of annihilating opponents in wrist wrestling matches.
Warmup - use a light weight to warm up doing 10 to 20 reps across the preacher bench in much the same manner as in exercise #1 to follow.
Dumbell Preacher Bench Curl - of all the exercises for the body, this is by far my favorite. If done properly, it is poetry in motion and so pure that no one likes it because it is so exacting. If not done properly, there are better movements. To get the most benefit from the exercise, the dumbells should be fully supinated at the bottom of the movement. Notice the position of my hands at the bottom. This exercise builds the bicep down around the area where the bicep crosses over the elbow, slides under the Bronatorteres and finally attaches to the Radius bone. Because it is so closely allied to the elbow joint, we wrist wrestling enthusiasts are interested, as we know most of the power for wrist wrestling comes through the elbow. Do 6 or 8 reps of this movement, completely extending the arms. Don't cheat even a little at the bottom. Once at the bottom, completely supinate the palms to force the biceps to do its complete job. If you have done all your "complete movement" reps, finish off with 4 or 5 "small movement" burns at the top of the exercise. Burns are 1/4 movement reps from the top down. Go immediately to the next exercise.
One Arm Lat Machine Curl - This is obviously the movement most closely approximating the actual arm wrestling procedure. Try to keep the elbow fixed and pull the wrist over and into the chest. Do 8 reps with each arm. Drop the weight and repeat for a total of 3 sets with each arm. Go immediately to the next exercise.
Zottman Curl - This movement is a bit awkward at first but one of the best all around lower bicep and forearm builders there is. If a fellow only had dumbells and nothing else to work with, this is the exercise he should do. Anchor the elbow on the hip and curl the dumbells alternately, one going up while the other is going down. You may want to almost complete one arm before you begin the next if it feels best this way. Do 8 reps of each arm.
You have just completed one series on Routine #3. You may wish to do 2 or 3 series of the routine. Flavor to taste.
This routine is designed to build the hand and finger strength more than actually building crushing forearm power. However, the building of tremendous strength in the fingers will also help to build greater forearm size and especially the power to work even harder on forearm development.
Alternate Pinch Grip Carry supersetted with Fingertip Push Up - Put two Olympic plates back to back (smooth side out), and carry them across the gym floor in first the right hand, then the left hand. Go immediately to pushups on the fingertips for 30 or 40 reps.
Fingertip Pushups - Try to do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps. Pushups don't actually work the fingers but they will give you something to concentrate on while stressing the fingers. Also, the strain of doing pushups will further tire the fingers.
Rolls Ups - Your fingers and wrists should be gorged with blood by this time. Use a wrist-roller bar for about 5 or 6 complete up and down movements. You may want to stand on a bench to lengthen the distance you lift the plate attached to the rope.
The weight used and the number of reps on this entire routine are entirely subjective. I could tell you what I use, but you must determine for yourself what weights are best. I have given you the approximate sets and reps you will need. You may want to go through this series several times until it feels like your forearms are going to burst.
I've given you some of the toughest routines of which I am aware. I have purposely tried to give you the hardest ones so that you can gradually grow into it. This will make the book valuable to your through more than just the beginner stage.
Forearm training can be really exciting. Feel free to pick and choose exercises from one routine to another. You may hit on something that works better than I have. If you do, let me know. I always like to learn new systems. Good luck to you and remember - always warm up before a session!
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