Forearm Calisthenics | Equipment & Bodyweight Forearm Exercises

Man exercising forearms in calisthenics

If you haven’t heard of calisthenics, you’ve probably seen it or even done it without knowing. This training method is usually done using minimal equipment and plenty of body movement. Calisthenics exercises can be performed anywhere, be it pull-ups at the park or squats at home.

Forearm calisthenics target only a small section of your arm but play a significant role in your overall strength training. Without these muscles being trained, you may have difficulty doing any other calisthenics or weighted exercises.

Whether you’re a beginner to calisthenics or just want to brush up on your knowledge, find out everything you need to know about forearm calisthenics below.

Calisthenics Forearm: Benefits

First, let’s talk about why you should consider doing these exercises. Here are the five most important calisthenics forearm workout benefits, whether you use equipment or not.

1. Builds functional strength

Man doing calisthenics on rings

Functional training is a collection of exercises that ready you for everyday life and have a purpose beyond strength training.

In the case of building forearm strength, these will help you with daily tasks like opening jars, as well as having a better grip and lifting heavy weights.

2. Increases muscle endurance

When it comes to forearm exercises, calisthenics is one of the best resistance training methods.

While strength is necessary, muscle endurance allows you to exercise longer and limits injuries due to muscle fatigue.

3. It is efficient

The secret to a calisthenics physique is that it mainly uses bodyweight training instead of weight lifting. It also works multiple muscle groups as opposed to any other form of isolated muscle training.

Often, when you’re training forearms, you’re also working other upper body muscles like the shoulders, triceps, and biceps. And, because of the lack of equipment and exercise accessories, you can get your workout done more efficiently with a shorter recovery time between sets.

4. Minimal equipment needed

One of the best benefits of calisthenics is that you can do a forearm workout with bodyweight. Research shows many more benefits to bodyweight exercise besides the price factor.

In fact, by using your bodyweight, you can target more muscles at once and have increased movement, flexibility, and muscle endurance.

Man doing one leg lifted pushups

5. Improves ability to do advanced calisthenics movements

If you have weak forearms, you may struggle with advanced calisthenics movements like the dragon flag. Calisthenics exercises like walking handstands, planche-pushups, and the famed iron cross require a good base level of strength and fitness before you attempt them.

These exercises place a lot of your bodyweight on your forearms, shoulders, and upper body so your forearms (and grip) need to be up to the task.

How to Perform Bodyweight Exercises for Forearms

There are a few ways to do forearm workouts without weights. Here is a list of some exercises that work your forearms.

Push-ups

Push-ups are a great strength exercise that work multiple muscles including your forearms.

You can change what muscle groups you’d like to target during push-ups by doing fingertip push-ups instead. These help focus on your forearms the same way sphinx push-ups would.

Sphinx push-ups are similar to usual push-ups with the slight variation that you start on your forearms and push yourself upright before ending back on your forearms.

Forearm planks

Planks target a range of muscles, but with a few tweaks, they can focus more on your forearms. A forearm plank sees you resting on your forearms with arms bent at 90°.

This helps build static forearm strength while developing your core.

Dead hangs

While hanging from a bar may seem like you’re not doing much, it is very beneficial for building forearm strength.

This exercise involves hanging from a bar with your core and engaged. It trains your gripping strength and muscle endurance, which in turn builds those flexors and extensors responsible for opening and closing your hands.

Pull ups

Soft forearms are not a good ingredient for form when it comes to pull-ups. Bringing your body up to that bar requires practice, work, forearm fortitude, and upper-body pulling strength.

If you already have pull ups in the bag, a towel pull-up is a great way to get the edge in your forearm training without needing expensive extras. Simply drape a towel over a bar so both ends are facing down, and use these ends to pull yourself up.

It may sound ridiculous, but rock climbers, calisthenics fans, and bodybuilders praise this exercise as a way to build strong forearms. This exercise also helps with grip strength.

Activated Muscles

While there are more than 20 forearm muscles, there are three main groups you’ll exercise when doing no equipment forearm workouts. These are the brachioradialis, flexors, and extensors. These muscles work together to help your forearms move and allow you to grip.

In terms of aesthetics, the main muscles you’ll be targeting during these workouts are the brachioradialis and flexors muscles, which are the most visible.

Forearm Calisthenics Modifications

You may want to begin with some minor adjustments if you’re starting out or if you’re advanced. Once you’re more comfortable, you can challenge yourself with different movements and equipment.

Make them easier

If you’re an absolute calisthenics forearm workout beginner, it’s best to start small and work your way up. Here is how you can do that:

  • Start at an incline. By starting at a higher level, you won’t have to rely on your arm strength as much. This is great for beginners working on their strength or flexibility.
  • Focus on endurance first. As a beginner, you want to increase how long you can train. You can practice your perseverance by doing dead man lifts, or support holds and monitoring how long you can keep it up.
  • Stretch. This goes for both beginners and experts, but stretching beforehand allows you to have a more intense workout session with less possibility of injuring yourself due to exertion.
Gym class stretching on gym floor

Make them harder

If you’re looking for more of a challenge during your workouts, these exercise modifications can help.

  • Do one-hand movements. By removing one hand, you’re already creating a more significant challenge for yourself by adding more weight to the other hand and forearm. This is an easy way to increase the challenge without adding any equipment.
  • Add a decline. In the same way that an incline may ease your training session, a slope can make it more challenging. This forces the muscles to work harder as they need to support more weight.

Are Forearm Bodyweight Exercises for You?

As much as exercise is about health and strength, it is also about aesthetics. Forearm calisthenics is a great way to target and build your arm muscles in a cheap, accessible way.

If you’re a beginner, you may find that your bodyweight is enough. However, bodyweight isn’t the only way to build muscle for a forearm workout. You can also add some equipment or do weighted calisthenics to intensify your training to make it more challenging. 

Whatever your approach, calisthenics is an excellent exercise method no matter where you are in your fitness journey.

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