Forearm Exercises Without Equipment

Weak forearms are a common problem, even for people who work out regularly. Many people find that standard weight equipment is too heavy or clumsy, so an entire industry has grown up around specialized equipment that targets the forearms, but these tools often give limited results. Fortunately, you do not need special equipment to strengthen your forearms. The key is remembering two types of exercises that strengthen your forearms — those that focus on your wrists and those that focus on your grip.


Mimicking Wrist Curls

Wrist curls are a common weightlifting exercise. The forearms are held parallel to the ground, sometimes by resting them on a flat surface or your thighs, and the wrists are bent or “curled” upward. These moves can be duplicated with self-resistance, which simply means using your free hand to provide resistance for the wrist you wish to curl. Simply make a fist with the hand you wish to exercise, then press downward on it with your free hand. You can provide just the amount of resistance you need, without fear of straining your forearm.

Gripping Almost Anything

The legendary Charles Atlas included no less than 18 hand and forearm exercises in his “Dynamic Tension” program, and many of them consisted of gripping items or each other. One of the simplest involved making tight fists and keeping them tight while rotating them in a circle with the wrists; this deceptively simple movement provided exercise through a 360-degree rotation. Then he would interlock the fingers of both hands and try to pull them apart. Yet another exercise used old newspapers; he would grip an open sheet by the corner and try to crumple it into a ball using only one hand. Atlas wrote in Chapter 11 of his course that exercises like these would build a strong grip in about three months.

Finger Presses

Some people do fingertip push-ups, supporting their weight on the tips of their open fingers rather than on their palms. You can do a much less difficult version by clasping your hands in front of your chest in a praying position, then spreading your fingers so only the tips are touching. In this position, try to press your hands together using only the strength of your fingers to keep your palms from touching each other.

Wringing a Towel

Perhaps the most classic of forearm exercises, wringing a towel is an exercise with a practical use that can be done anywhere. Simply grip a towel with both hands and twist them in opposite directions. Assuming you hold the towel parallel to the ground, you can use four different grips — both palms facing up, both palms facing down, right palm up and left palm down, and left palm up and right palm down. You can grip with your hands side-by-side or slightly apart. You can rotate your wrists and the towel in different ways to change the angles at which you work the muscles. And of course, you can soak the towel in water to create a more of a challenge — simply hold the towel over a tub or sink and try to wring the towel dry.

  • “Pushing Yourself to Power”; John E. Peterson; 2003
  • “Dynamic Tension Fitness and Bodybuilding System”; Charles Atlas; 2000

Photo Credits:

  • Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or