Workout Tips

Best Ways to Build Bigger Forearms and Calves

Don't let poor genetics keep you from super-sizing these often neglected muscles.

Best Ways to Build Bigger Forearms and Calves

I envy those bodybuilders who rarely need to do a calf raise or a wrist curl, and still have thickly developed forearm and calf muscles. However, lack of genetics isn't always the culprit when it comes to having less-than-impressive calves and forearms.

It's also because these body parts are trained as an afterthought rather than as major muscles. So if your parents didn't pass down the Erik Fankhouser calf gene or the Phil Heath forearm gene, it doesn't mean you can't still build formidable amounts of muscle in these body parts. Sometimes it's the hardest and smartest workers that actually come out ahead of the genetically gifted.

Freaky Forearms

The forearms are heavily recruited in every single upper body exercise that you do. This makes them very tough and very resilient, which unfortunately makes it harder to affect their hypertrophy. Simply pumping them up is not enough to get them growing, so you need to think in terms of bombarding the forearms with tremendous intensity and varying stimuli. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to utilize my Power, Rep Range, Shock method of training. This method is effective because it's a cyclical program that has you change training protocols week to week. It's exactly what you want to do when looking to forge some serious forearms. Here is a typical 3-week forearm blitz using the Power, Rep Range, Shock method.

Week 1: Power

Barbell wrist curls…3 x 6-8
Reverse curls…3 x 6-8

Week 2: Rep Range

Barbell behind the back wrist curls…2 x 9-12
Seated hammer curls…2 x 13-15
Reverse barbell wrist curls…2 x 16-20


Week 3: Shock

Superset: Reverse barbell wrist curl/Incline hammer curl…2 x 10-12 each
Dropset: Barbell wrist curls…1 x 10-12, drop wt. 30%, 6-8 more
Plate holds (between your fingers and thumb, pinch grip a 45 lb. plate and hold by your sides as long as possible)…1 x maximum

Once you complete the three weeks, go back to the beginning, but shuffle up the exercises a bit.

If your forearms are considerably less developed than your upper arms you might want to train them twice per week. Another way to give the forearms a boost in size is to avoid using wrist straps as much as possible, so the forearms are forced to squeeze the bar or dumbbells harder in order to hold the weight.