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Brachioradialis exercises and workout routines with dumbbells, without weights, and for rehab

These 7 dependable exercises will build strong but functional forearms.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd April 2021
Man performing a rope hammer curl

Developing the brachioradialis and making it more prominent can earn you forearm development that instantly demands attention. How so?

Because when it comes to the arms, people are obsessed with the biceps! And when they create their forearm workouts, they invariably think of the flexors and forget all about the brachioradialis and the other extensors.

So, in addition to various brachioradialis workout routines, I’ve used my years of strength and conditioning experience to select the 7 most effective brachioradialis exercises for muscle growth and strength development.

Related brachioradialis exercise guides

Top 7 brachioradialis exercises

You’ll find many proven exercises here that you can use in your brachioradialis workouts. However, as you’ll soon learn, there are actually quite a few mass-building brachioradialis exercises besides curls.

1. Hammer curl

Close up of a man performing hammer curls

If you want to build your biceps and forearms simultaneously, this is the brachioradialis exercise for you.

If you've been in the gym a while, then you were probably expecting to see this exercise, and rightly so. It just flat out works!

  1. Hold 2 dumbbells by your sides with a neutral hand position.
  2. While keeping your shoulders and upper arms stationary, curl the dumbbells up by flexing your elbows. Go beyond 90 degrees for the best results.
  3. Hold the contraction for a split second and then lower the dumbbells back to your sides.
  4. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps.

2. Reverse curl

The start and end positions for the dumbbell reverse curl

If you want to do a brachioradialis workout with dumbbells or a barbell, then reverse curls are a great choice because they're incredibly versatile. You can do them with virtually any equipment (even bands and cables).

Also, check out the barbell reverse wrist curl and the dumbbell reverse wrist curl if you want to build up your other important forearm muscles.

  1. Grab a barbell or 2 dumbbells with a shoulder-width overhand grip, and be sure to also use a thumbless grip for more forearm activation.
  2. Curl the weight towards your torso by bending your elbows.
  3. Squeeze the tops of your forearms at the top of the rep and then lower the weight under control.
  4. Repeat for sets of 8-15 reps.

3. Zottman curl

The start and end positions for the Zottman curl

The Zottman curl is one of the best brachioradialis exercises because it simultaneously develops the biceps and forearms.

Talk about about a time-saver.

Standing reverse forearm curls are another excellent option if you want more forearm activation than biceps stimulus.

  1. Hold 2 dumbbells by your sides with a supinated (palms up) hand position.
  2. Curl the dumbbells up to and then beyond 90 degrees.
  3. Squeeze your biceps hard, and then rotate your palms into a pronated (palms down) position.
  4. Now, lower the dumbbells under control for a slower tempo (2-4 seconds).
  5. Savor the forearm stretch and repeat for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

4. Supination/pronation

Back of the hands

This is one of the better brachioradialis rehab exercises out there because it’s low impact and also works the other forearm muscles that are responsible for rotating your hands.

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and place your arms in front of you.
  2. From a palms-down position, rotate your hands to a palms-up position while keeping your shoulders and upper arms as still as you can.
  3. Rotate your hands back to their original, palms-down position and repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

Related muscles

5. Close-grip pull ups

Woman doing pull ups in a competition

If you want to perform your brachioradialis workout without weights, then pull ups are a top choice, and they're a phenomenal back exercise.

Yet, move your hands in just a couple of inches, and you’ll hammer your brachioradialis and arms like never before.

Oh, and you’ll also build a massive back in the process. Yes, even with a close-grip.

  1. Grab a pull-up bar with a narrow overhand grip.
  2. Look straight ahead and arch your upper back slightly to engage your lats.
  3. Pull your upper chest towards the bar by flexing your arms and squeezing your back muscles while keeping your legs as still as possible.
  4. Lower yourself back down and feel your arms stretch in the process.
  5. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps.

6. Barbell rows

Muscular man doing barbell rows

Barbell rows might not seem like the most obvious of brachioradialis muscle exercises, but if you use an overhand grip, then they can add a surprising amount of mass.

  1. Grab a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
  2. Bend your knees and push your hips back. Then, bend your torso over to a 45-degree angle.
  3. Ensure that your arms are fully extended and that your chest should is up (don’t let it sag).
  4. Flare your elbows out to the sides slightly (about 45 degrees).
  5. Row the barbell into your upper abs by driving your elbows behind your torso.
  6. Squeeze your arms and back for a split second, and then lower the bar back down.
  7. Keep it heavy and repeat for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps.

7. Close-grip pulldown

Man performing a close grip lat pulldown

The close-grip pulldown is a fantastic exercise to add to your brachioradialis workout because it offers consistent resistance.

While it’s mainly a back builder, your biceps and forearms will also be screaming after a few short sets.

  1. Sit on a lat pulldown station and arch your upper back slightly so that your chest is nice and high.
  2. Grab the two sides of the d-handle attachment and pull it to your mid-chest by driving your elbows down towards the ground.
  3. Contract your lats hard, and then let the attachment retreat to its starting position by way of a big lat stretch.

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Brachioradialis workout routines

Use the above exercises to create your own brachioradialis workout or follow one of these ready-made routines to save time. [1]

Workout 1: Maximum isolation

If you want to isolate your brachioradialis, then give this workout a try. It’s a great add-on to any arm workout. But if your brachioradialis is a significant weak point, then you can also perform this routine in its own session so that you're fresher and can lift heavier weights.

1: EZ Reverse curl — 4 x 8-12 reps

2: Dumbbell hammer curls — 3 x 6-10 reps

3: Zottman curls — 3 x 8-12 reps

4: Cable reverse curl — 2 x 30 reps

Workout 2: Compound lifts

This compound-only workout has various exercises for your brachioradialis muscles. [2] However, the prime movers will mainly be your lats and traps.

1: Close-grip pull ups/pulldown — 3 x 6-8 reps

2: Barbell row — 3 x 6-10 reps

3: Wide-grip pulldown — 3 x 8-12 reps

4: Lat pushdown — 3 x 12-15 reps

5: Rear delt fly — 3 x 15-20 reps

Workout 3: Mixed stimulus

If you’re looking for a pull workout that has plenty of special brachioradialis exercises thrown in, then this is the program for you.

1: Close-grip pull ups/pulldown — 4 x 6-8 reps

2: Barbell row —3 x 6-8 reps

3: Wide-neutral pulldown — 3 x 10-12 reps

4: Hammer curl — 3 x 6-10 reps

5: Reverse curl — 3 x 12-15 reps

Brachioradialis exercise tips

Brachioradialis exercise doesn’t need to be complicated. However, there are certain mistakes that could potentially jeopardize your results (at worst) or waste your time in the gym (at best).

Prioritize your brachioradialis

Close up of a man doing incline hammer curls

It’s quite simple. If you want your brachioradialis to grow and look more 3D, then you need to do curls with your palms down. Or, if you just can’t bear to reduce your bicep stimulation, do hammer curls.

They don’t offer quite as much brachioradialis activation as revere curls, but you can use more weight with them, so the results will likely be comparable.

But please, don't do regular curls and expect your brachioradialis muscle to grow because it’s pretty much asleep in palms-up exercises.

Use a thumbless grip

Person grabbing a bar with a thumbless grip

This tip is crucial for reverse curls, but it also applies for the other brachioradialis exercises. Heck, even doing pull ups with a thumbless grip will set your brachioradialis on fire.

This is because the weight can't just rest in your fingers. So obviously, your brachioradialis is called upon because it's one of the strongest muscles in the upper arm.

Curl all the way up

Man performing an alternating hammer curl

Far too many people stop at 90 degrees during reverse curls. This is sub-optimal. Why?

Because the brachioradialis muscles become most active at the top part of the rep, above 90 degrees. So by stopping short, you’re quite literally robbing yourself of gains.

So, as always, it’s pivotal to nail the form if you want results.

Don’t forget the flexors!

The verdict: Which brachioradialis exercises are the best?

If pure size is what you're after, then the best brachioradialis exercises are obviously going to be the ones that take your other muscles out of the equation.

That said, heavy compound movements like rows and pulldowns can still be a part of your brachioradialis workout because, as we know, you need to train every muscle if you want a complete physique.

Anyway, I hope that this brachioradialis exercise guide was helpful. For the best results, I recommend using a mix of compound and isolation exercises.

References

  1. Vasković, J. (2020). Brachioradialis muscle. Kenhub. Retrieved from https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/brachioradialis-muscle.
  2. Paoli, A., Gentil, P., Moro, T., Marcolin, G., & Bianco, A. (2017). Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength. Frontiers In Physiology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.01105
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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