Forearm curls are a targeted-weight exercise that is meant to help strengthen the forearm muscles. They can be performed with either a barbell or a dumbbell. To perform forearm curls, a person typically isolates the forearms, tightly grips the handle on the weight, begins from an extended position, and then lifts the weight by curling only the wrist to complete the exercise. The weight is then lowered back to the starting position using only the muscles in the forearm to control the relaxing of the curl.
Muscles in the forearm are often overlooked in favor of more obvious muscle groups, such as the biceps and shoulders. Forearms are an important muscle to target, however, as they make up roughly 30 percent of arm mass. If they are neglected during bodybuilding, the arm may lack proportion.
The forearm muscle consists of the anterior, or the front of the forearm, and the posterior, or the back of the forearm. Within the forearm are several smaller muscle groups that control the movement of the arm from the elbow. Smaller muscle groups manipulate the wrists and hands.
It is important to isolate the forearms as much as possible when performing forearm curls and other exercises geared toward forearm muscle-training. The forearm will develop better if stronger muscles, such as the biceps, are not assisting. Bodybuilders usually see the greatest results by performing forearm curls at the end of their workout because their grip on the weights is often much stronger after an intense workout.
When working with dumbbells, the dumbbell one-armed wrist curl is usually the best choice to target the forearm muscles. To perform a wrist curl, the bodybuilder sits on a bench and places the forearm on the thigh, holding the wrist and the dumbbell over the knee. He bends his wrist, lowering the weight. Next, the he flexes the palm and allows the dumbbell to roll forward slightly. Finally, he closes the palm and curls the weight back up as high as he can.
Another forearm exercise is the barbell wrist curl. For this exercise, the bodybuilder straddles a bench and rests his forearms on the edge. He takes the barbell and uses an underhand grip with his wrists hanging over the edge of the bench. Bending his wrists, he lowers the barbell, opening his palms slightly at the bottom of the drop. He then rolls the barbell back up into his hands and lifts it as high as possible.
Either dumbbells or barbells may be used for forearm curls. Barbell wrist curls, however, allow the bodybuilder to isolate the forearm muscles easier. This makes the exercise more effective in many cases because it helps develop the forearm's inner side muscles. Bodybuilders should use a full range of motion when performing forearm curls in order to receive the most benefit from strength training.