Your forearms and hands contain around fifty different muscles. Together, these muscles create the dexterity, strength, and endurance of your hands.
In this article, you will learn about the muscles in your forearm that flexes your wrist and fingers. You will learn about their muscle anatomy, what some effective exercises are, and how you can combine them into a workout.
We will focus on the forearm, but while the muscle anatomy of the hand is beyond the scope of this article, we will be looking at exercises that train your grip.
Muscle Anatomy of the Forearm Flexors
As previously mentioned, your forearms and hands contain a large number of muscles. This article will focus on the largest and strongest muscles that are involved in gripping and in flexing your wrist.
Most of the large muscles of your forearm originate close to the elbow, and that is also where most of their meat (their muscle belly) is located. As the muscles stretch down towards your hand and fingers, they become tendinous as they cross your wrist.
Some of these forearm muscles only cross your wrist and then insert into the base of your hand. These are only able to act on your wrist, such as flexing it or bending it to the sides.
Your largest and strongest wrist flexors are:
- Flexor carpi radialis
- Flexor carpi ulnaris
- Palmaris longus
In addition to these wrist flexors, you have additional flexion muscles in your forearm whose tendons don’t stop at the base of your hand, but extends all the way out to your fingers. Either to the middle bones of your fingers, or all the way out to your finger tips. These muscles can also flex your wrist, but maybe more importantly, they are powerful gripping muscles.
The largest and strongest grip muscles (that double as wrist flexors) of your forearm are:
- Flexor digitorum superficialis
- Flexor digitorum profundus
- Flexor pollicis longus
Note that while the brachioradialis is a large muscle in your forearm, it only crosses your elbow joint and is thus an elbow flexor, with no direct action on your wrist or hand.
Exercises for Your Forearm Flexors and Grip
In this section, we’ll take a look at four different exercises for your grip and wrist flexors.
1. Barbell Wrist Curl
The barbell wrist curl is a classic exercise for your forearms. It trains both the flexors of the wrist and the muscles that closes your hand, and it is thus a great “catch-all” for the muscles on the anterior side of your forearms.
If you find it wobbly to keep your arms on your thighs, you can sit on your knees and place your forearms against a bench instead.
Grippers are another classic for your grip muscles. This type of crushing grip training will work both the muscles of your hand, and also the muscles in your forearm that closes your hand.
Remember that just because training with a gripper doesn’t feel very draining, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need recovery. Increase the amount of grip training you do very gradually, just like with any other new movement, and avoid doing too much too soon.
3. Hang for Time
No need to raise the gallows, you can hang on your own! Whether you use one hand or two, simply hanging for time in a rack, gymnastic ring or a tree branch is a great way to work your grip strength endurance and increase the flexibility of your shoulders at the same time.
The one-handed bar hang is quite tough both on your grip and shoulder, and you should ease into it slowly if you’re not used to it. The two-handed bar hang on the other side is quite a lot more forgiving, and most can hold themselves up for at least a few seconds. If you can do that, then you’ve got something to work with, and can aim to increase your hanging time by just one second each workout if so.
This exercise trains a static type of grip strength, and there are plenty of other exercises that do this as well. Check out the list of substitutes below for some ideas!
4. Plate Pinch
Finally, the plate pinch offers a slightly different type of forearm and hand training by challenging your pinching grip strength.
Note that the design of the weight plates and whether you use magnesium or not will have a big impact on how much weight you can lift in this exercise.
Too hard? Ditch the second plate, and work your strength up by holding a single plate!
Forearm Flexor and Grip Workout
So what does an effective forearm and grip workout look like?
Building on the exercises above, let’s construct an example workout. This workout is aimed at both strength and muscle growth, and you will be able to get good results of both with it. We will also add in some barbell wrist extensions for your forearm extensors, to make the workout a little more comprehensive.
StrengthLog’s Forearm and Grip Workout
- Barbell Wrist Curl: 3 sets x 10 reps
- Barbell Wrist Extension: 3 sets x 10 reps
- Gripper: 3 sets/side x 5 reps
- Hang for Time: 3 sets/side x max time
- Plate Pinch: 3 sets/side x max time
This forearm and grip workout is available for free in the StrengthLog workout tracker app.
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Together, these exercises will train your forearms and grip muscles well, stimulating both muscle growth and strength. If you train these exercises with a good technique, and regularly try to increase the weight you are using, the time you can hold, or the number of reps you are doing while still maintaining good form, your forearms are bound to grow bigger and stronger.
And that’s it! Hopefully, by now you have a good grasp of the muscle anatomy of your forearm flexors, what some effective forearm and grip exercises are, and how you can combine them into a workout.
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Do you want to read more of our muscle group training guides? You find them all here.