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The Lift Doctor: Bigger Forearms & Stronger Shoulders

Our Lift Doctor answers your questions about how to add size and strength to forearms and how to avoid shoulder damage during military presses.

By Jim Smith, CSCS
The Lift Doctor: Bigger Forearms & Stronger Shoulders

Question 1: “Would you say reverse barbell curls are the best forearm builder for strength and mass?” -William C. McCollie

Yes, reverse curls with a barbell are an excellent exercise for building massive forearms while simultaneously growing the biceps—as long as the straight bar does not irritate your wrists or elbows. If this is the case, just use an EZ curl bar as a substitute for the straight bar. Another very good movement is barbell wrist curls performed with your forearms resting on your legs or the bench, with the bar and your hands hanging over. 

While it is true you can get a sick grip by incorporating tools like towels and ropes into your training, for exercises like rope rows or towel pull-ups, to get more size, you need more volume. This is because your forearms are predominantly slow-twitch muscle fibers which respond best to high repetition work. So you’ll want to get up into the 4 sets of 20 rep range with your reverse curls and wrist curls.  

Question 2: “When performing a military seated shoulder press, I am getting a clicking in my left shoulder. How can I prevent this?”  -Erich Molnar

You’re probably okay if the clicking sound is not accompanied by pain, but you can also just try a different angle on the bench. Sometimes that is all it takes to get a better setup and prevent issues during the press.  I would also ensure that you're always working on improving your posture. If your upper back is tight and your shoulders are rounded forward, your shoulder blades will not be in a good position, which will affect the tracking of your upper arm and strength potential for your press. As a rule, incorporating face pulls with lots of foam rolling on the upper back will always be a good idea for anyone who does a lot of barbell and dumbbell pressing movements. 

Check out the face pull variation video below:

 

Meet the Lift Doctor

Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the LIVESTRONG.com Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most "innovative strength coaches" in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach "beyond their potential." He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.

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