If you want to get jacked forearms and you aren’t sure what forearm muscles to concentrate on, you’re going to want to watch this video. Here I show you that one of the biggest muscles in the forearm, responsible for a major portion of the size, is not even technically a forearm muscle. The brachioradialis is a powerful elbow flexor that also has abilities to pronate the forearm. Many will focus all of their forearm workouts and exercises on wrist curls and wrist extensions. This is a mistake when trying to build up mass in the forearm muscles.
ANATOMY OF THE BRACHIORADIALIS
To start, it helps to revisit the anatomy of the lower arm. The brachioradialis starts on the upper arm bone, the humerus, and inserts on the distal end of the radius (the bone on the thumb side of the forearm). This muscle does not cross the wrist joint and therefore has no action on the wrist. This means that the brachioradialis does not extend or flex the wrist like the other forearm muscles does.
In order to work it the most you need to spend your time focusing on the actions of the elbow, specifically flexing the elbow. The position with which you do this matters however. If you do it with the forearm supinated you will instantly place most of the load on the biceps rather than the brachioradialis. To get the brachioradialis you will want to have your forearm either in neutral or pronated. Here is where some controversy comes in.
NEUTRAL vs PRONATED
Many will point to the fact that the brachioradialis is strongest in the neutral position of the forearm. This is true. That does not mean however that the muscle is most fully shortened or activated in this position. It can achieve a greater level of contraction when it is both flexed at the elbow and pronated at the forearm. Does this mean that you should not train it out of the neutral position? No. It means that you can choose exercises that allow it to be trained heavier for progressive overload in this position but that you still need to include forearm exercises that allow it to be trained from a pronated position.
REVERSE BARBELL CURL
The most classic forearm exercise when it comes to this is the reverse barbell curl. Here, you can do it with either a straight bar to achieve the fully pronated position or with an EZ bar to get a more neutral position. Remember to adjust your weights accordingly to stimulate the muscle as discussed above. Also, the amount of brachioradialis activation is higher with elbow flexion above 90 degrees so remember not to cut the range of motion short on any rep.
REVERSE DUMBBELL CURL
You can also do this with dumbbells. As shown, you can hold the dumbbell with an offset grip which will help you to overload pronation at the same time that you can flex the elbow to train the brachioradialis optimally. The version shown here is good at accomplishing both and can be done with most dumbbells at the gym.
LET PULLDOWN…WAIT, WHAT?!
The lat pulldown variation is another great option for achieving a reverse curl and training the brachioradialis to get bigger forearms. The key is to keep the bar moving behind the head and not just to the head to take advantage of the greater activation with greater elbow flexion.
PICK. UP. YOUR. WEIGHTS!
When it comes down to it however, if you want to get jacked forearms one of the easiest things you can do is remember to pick up the weights when you’re done with them. Yes, the position of carrying plates and racking them is one of the best ways to activate this muscle and get it to grow with the additional volume you achieve by doing this repeatedly during the workout week. Not just that, you’ll be more liked at the gym for not being that guy who never picks up his weights.
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