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Discover how to get toned forearms naturally

Learn how to tone your forearms safely and effectively.
Written By  Tiana Walker
Last Updated on 4th March 2021
Toned woman in the gym

The forearm is a stubborn spot for many people, especially women, who naturally have higher levels of body fat than men in their upper bodies. However, even when some people are lean, they can still struggle to get those toned forearms that they desire.

This can lead to self-confidence issues and cause you to doubt the efficacy of your training program. So in this article, you’ll learn—step-by-step—how to tone your forearms naturally.

Yes, that’s right. I won't be recommending any supplements or weird fat loss rituals.

You’ll learn the top 5 most effective exercises for giving your lower arms that irresistibly defined appearance that just screams I work out.

Related post: how to lose forearm fat

How to tone your forearms

While certain exercises are better than others for achieving those coveted toned forearms, it’s important to check off the basics before worrying about the finer details.

Lift free weights

Smiling sportswoman lifting dumbbells

Free weights have been around for decades and continue to be the tool of choice for those seeking to build lean muscle and tone up.

Not only do free weights strengthen your muscles and decrease your body fat levels via calorie expenditure, but they also increase your flexibility and balance by training your stabilizer muscles. [1] This, in turn, helps you to perform at your best during everyday life, which you’ll definitely appreciate as you get older (trust me!).

Use resistance bands

Smiling woman lifting resistance bands at home

Resistance bands provide your muscles with constant tension, and so they naturally produce a more potent muscle pump because the consistent resistance doesn’t give the lactic acid a chance to escape.

While the pump is just a temporary effect of high rep resistance training, the benefits, such as increased muscle tone and vascularity, can become more permanent if you perform these exercises regularly.

Decrease your body fat level

Lean woman lifting red dumbbells

Excessive body fat is the biggest barrier to getting nicely toned forearms. Even if you have plenty of muscle underneath your adipose tissue (fat), you won’t be able to see that impressive definition that you worked so hard for (or are naturally gifted with) unless you lose some of the body fat.

Of course, some individuals simply have more stubborn fat than others due to their genetic predisposition towards fat storage. However, with enough exercise and a healthy diet (and, of course, enough time), just about anyone can get their forearms and body in better shape.

Perform cardiovascular activity

Sporty woman running on a treadmill

Running, cycling, and rowing probably aren’t the first activities that spring to mind when you’re wondering how to tone your forearms or other upper body muscles.

However, cardiovascular exercise can indirectly make your forearms more defined by burning calories. This calorie expenditure creates what’s called a caloric deficit, which in turn helps to bring your body fat levels down.

Top exercises for toned forearms

There are many great forearm exercises for women out there. And while consistency and training intensity are the most critical factors that determine the quality of your results, you can still get an edge by choosing the right drills for your lower arms.

Wrist curls

Man performing a seated dumbbell forearm curl

Wrist curls are a tried and tested lower arm exercise that tones your forearm flexors and your forearm extensors.

Wrist curls are also incredibly versatile. Most people do them over a bench at the gym. Yet, you can also do them on your desk at work or on your table at home if you have a dumbbell handy.

Both barbells and dumbbells work here. But dumbbells are my top choice because they cause less connective tissue strain thanks to their freer range of motion.

To do a wrist curl, simply rest the top of your forearm on a weight bench and let your hand hang off the edge. Then, lower the weight towards the floor until you feel a nice forearm stretch. Bring the weight back up by flexing your wrist and squeezing your forearm hard at the top of the rep. Repeat this motion for 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

You can also train the extensors by doing the exercise with your forearm facing down. So, rather than resting the top of your forearm on the bench, you’re going to rest the underside of your lower arm on the bench padding instead.

From there, the movement is exactly the same; lower the weight under control and then flex your forearm to raise the dumbbell back up.

Hammer curls

Woman doing cable rope hammer curls

Hammer curls work the brachioradialis muscle, which can make your forearms look nice and toned once your body fat is low enough.

Hold two dumbbells, one by each side, with a neutral wrist position. Curl the weights towards your shoulders while keeping your upper arms still. Aim to raise the weights above where your elbow is at a 90-degree angle for the best contraction. Then, finish the rep by slowly lowering the dumbbells back down to your sides. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Farmer’s walks

Woman performing a trap bar deadlift

Farmer’s walks build rock-solid grip strength that helps you with your pulling exercises like rows and deadlifts. However, because the drill requires you to hold dumbbells, kettlebells, or a trap bar for 30-45 seconds at a time, your forearms can get really pumped and, eventually, more toned as well due to the increase in blood flow.

Hand grip squeezes

Sporty lady using a hand grip device

If you want to get toned forearms at home but don’t want to pay for expensive exercise equipment, then using an affordable hand gripper can get you those gains that you’re looking for.

Simply hold the gripper between the palm of your hand and your fingers and then squeeze the ends together until they almost touch. Then slowly release the gripper, and allow your forearms to be stretched under the tension.

Running

Happy couple jogging outside

While not a direct forearm drill, running will lower your overall body fat levels by expending calories, which in turn can help you tone your forearms.

Running also gets you out in the fresh air and improves your mood, which is especially important if you work in an office like me.

Also, there are countless health benefits of cardiovascular exercise, such as increased bone strength, better immunity, more restful sleep, and of course, the one that many of us are especially interested in—weight loss. [2] [3] [4] [5]

Conclusion: How to get toned forearms safely

Getting those toned forearms might seem challenging at first, but if you’re willing to stick to the plan, then your chance of success will increase dramatically.

You can't outwork a bad diet. So make sure that you're consuming a healthy, protein-rich diet to support your workouts.

First and foremost, cover your basics. Make sure that you’re consuming enough healthy calories and protein to support lean muscle growth. Then ensure that you aren't overeating so that you can reduce your body fat levels and bring out more muscle definition.

From there, try some different exercises to see which you prefer. And don’t forget to do some cardio if you can; runners tend to have pretty toned forearms and muscles, from what I can see.

References

  1. Chai, C. (2017, June 12). 8 reasons why weight training is incredible for your health. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/3513498/8-reasons-why-weight-training-is-incredible-for-your-health/
  2. Department of Health & Human Services. (2013, July 31). Running and jogging - health benefits. Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/running-and-jogging-health-benefits
  3. Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 8(3), 201–217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009
  4. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, April). Does exercising at night affect sleep? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/does-exercising-at-night-affect-sleep
  5. Phillips, S. M., & Joyner, M. J. (2018). Out-running ‘bad’ diets: beyond weight loss there is clear evidence of the benefits of physical activity. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(14), 854–855. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-100226
Tiana Walker
As a personal trainer, Tiana Walker has been coaching women in the Chicago area for 6 years. She's helped countless ladies to lose weight and then keep it off with her sustainable exercise and nutritional regimes. She's also an experienced health and fitness writer whose enthusiasm helps her to connect with a worldwide audience of fitness enthusiasts.
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