In fitness and bodybuilding, it seems like every muscle is being isolated and trained. Articles pop up showing a person how to zero in on a very particular muscle group, which is then promoted as helping out with balance of the physique.
One will find out that some muscles get trained pretty effectively indirectly. This article is not knocking isolated training by any means, but maybe shine some light on how to make time more efficient in the gym when training bigger muscles groups which will also help build up those overlooked groups as well.
One muscle group in particular that has seem to have gotten attention in the isolated training game is the forearms. A lot of people aspire to have those “Pop-eye” forearms. Certain movements such us wrist curls and bar twists have been seen as effective ways to build up the forearms from an isolated standpoint of training. Once again, not knocking these movements but what if there was a way to effectively hit the forearms indirectly maybe just as well doing a bigger movement than isolating the muscle in a smaller movement?
Let’s talk grip.
Forearms are engaged whenever a person grips something. When the hands are closed, and the fingers are curled up, the forearms pop in all their glory. Many times, people do things to hinder forearm growth and even grip strength by wearing straps or doing everything with a underhand or supinated grip. This revolves around seeing how much weight can be moved throughout the particular movement instead of utilizing the raw lift (or pull) for its strength and size increasing components with the muscles involved.
An example would be a deadlift. Many people resort to a hook-grip deadlift to pull maximum weight. This is when the person puts their strong hand into an underhand grip and weak hand into an overhand or pronated grip. This maximizes the ability to pull the weight only. Numbers are so very important, especially with big lifts. Even with a hook-grip, straps are even used to pull even more weight! What if the weight had to drop so you can pull it with a regular pronated/overhand grip? What is this meant bigger forearms and stronger grip overtime? Would you do it?
Studies show that forearms are engaged the most when the hands are pronated/overhand in a grip. This puts the grip in a weaker state but engages the forearms more than an easier, underhand grip where the biceps help a little more with the lift (or pull). Pull-ups are another example. It is simpler to do an underhand pull-up as opposed to an overhand pull-up. By putting the body in a weaker state when it comes to grip and forearms, we actually build them up more effectively and get stronger in the long run. Doing a set of bicep curls on a barbell with an overhand grip will engage the forearms as well and get them burning!
So next time you are in the gym, get rid of the straps and think “overhand” or “pronated” when doing certain movements such as deadlifts, pull-ups, and even a bicep movement or two. You will be killing two birds with one stone as opposed to throwing a bunch of pebbles at one bird hoping you hit it.