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11 inch forearms: Are they a normal, healthy size?

It all depends on your gender and body fat levels.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 1st March 2021
Skinny man flexing his muscles

Perhaps you’re a skinny guy who desperately wants to get big forearms? Or maybe you’re a woman who’s wondering if 11 inch forearms are actually pretty large for a lady?

Whatever the case may be, this article—along with the rest in the series—will tell you everything that you need to know about the average forearm size in men, women, seniors, and even competitive athletes.

Related forearm size guides

Are 11 inch forearms impressive?

Skinny guy measuring his arm size

While it’s true that impressive is subjective, the data doesn’t lie. Although they aren’t necessarily tiny, 11 inch forearms aren’t going to turn heads in the street, either. And that’s because they’re smack bang in the middle of average. [1]

You don’t need to lift weights or even go to the gym to get forearms this size. If you have a normal body weight and bone structure, it’s very likely that you’ll achieve 11 inch forearms naturally as a man—especially if you like to eat.

For a woman, however, 11 inch forearms are definitely more impressive in the sense that they’re above average in circumference. [2] The bad news is that few women have 11 inch forearms because they’re healthy.

In fact, if your forearms exceed 10 inches as a woman, then you probably need to lose weight. That is, of course, unless you’re a female bodybuilder or just so happen to have a very large bone structure.

How long will it take to achieve 11 inch forearms?

A clock positioned next to some dumbbells and a tape measure

Many men will achieve 11 inch forearms by the end of puberty. Due to the slow-twitch nature of the forearm flexors and extensors, the lower arms are heavily active in everyday life, especially if you do any kind of manual labor.

Yet, if you have a naturally skinny physique, then you might have to hang on until adulthood to realize your forearm potential. Since we all grow at different times and at different rates, we won’t all make gains in synch.

Also, in general, taller people (in the long run) will have an easier time growing their forearms than their shorter counterparts. This is simply because taller fellas have a bigger bone structure, which in turn can hold more muscle.

That said, shorter people tend to have pretty good forearms and calves by default. Or perhaps that’s just an illusion because of their comparatively smaller joints?

How to get 11 inch forearms

Man doing seated forearm curls

Compound exercises

There’s no need to pick up a bar and start forearm curling. Heavy compound lifts (especially pulls and rows) offer plenty of growth-provoking stimulus for most people’s forearms. In fact, you could probably use straps for all your back exercises and still achieve 11 inch forearms naturally.

Maintenance calories

Bulking is fun. But there’s no need to do it to get 11 inch forearms. Simply eating maintenance calories is enough to build muscle, and that doesn’t exclude the forearms. Just make sure to get enough protein in your diet to support the growth of new muscle tissue.

Natural growth

As mentioned above, unless you’re a hardgainer, then you’ll probably get 11 inch forearms by simply going about your daily business. Of course, if your hobby is gardening or DIY, then you’ll likely have bigger forearms than someone who sits inside and plays video games in their leisure time (those buttons don’t offer much resistance).

Still, with a decent diet, most men will get 11 inch forearms without hitting the gym. But do you really want to be average?

How to exceed 11 inch forearms

A man's muscular forearm holding onto a dumbbell

Occasional forearm training

Believe it or not, you can train your forearms directly once every 10-14 days (with only a few sets) and still make excellent gains. Many people (who have nothing better to do) tend to live in the gym these days. And ironically, they could probably get the same results by lifting for a quarter of the time.

This holds true with the forearms, particularly if you train them close to failure.

Calorie surplus

Unless you’re already overweight, then eating in a small calorie surplus for a while is a great strategy for speeding up muscle growth. Just don’t go overkill and eat all the pies. Because otherwise, your forearms might lose their hard and lean appearance.

Manual labor

Even though I just said that you could make forearm gains by training them once every two weeks, there’s also no harm in working them every day. After all, builders and passionate DIY’ers do it all the time.

On the most basic level, your muscles respond to tension. They don't know the difference between a hammer and a dumbbell.

The catch is that they’re not hammering (if you’ll pardon the pun) their forearms to grinding failure like the typical bodybuilder. As such, they can train their lower arms daily without any repercussions.

Plus, working with your hands is way more fun than staring at yourself in a gym mirror if you ask me.

Conclusion: Are 11 inch forearms big or small?

Overall, it’s fair to say that 11 inch forearms are pretty much the definition of average when it comes to the male physique. For someone who trains regularly and has decent genetics, though, it’s also arguable that they’re actually a bit on the small side. Or perhaps this hypothetical gym-goer just uses straps all the time?

Anyway, for a woman, 11 inch forearms are pretty meaty, considering that most ladies have a circumference of roughly 9.5 inches.

But for a bloke? Yeah, as I say, pretty much standard.

References

  1. Alahmari, K. A., Silvian, S. P., Reddy, R. S., Kakaraparthi, V. N., Ahmad, I., & Alam, M. M. (2017). Hand grip strength determination for healthy males in Saudi Arabia: A study of the relationship with age, body mass index, hand length and forearm circumference using a hand-held dynamometer. Journal of International Medical Research, 45(2), 540–548. https://doi.org/10.1177/0300060516688976
  2. Polymeris, A., Papapetrou, P. D., & Katsoulis, G. (2014). An Average Body Circumference Can Be a Substitute for Body Mass Index in Women. Advances in Medicine, 2014, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/592642
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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