The forearm bones and their surrounding muscles are critical to our everyday lives. From picking up that cup of creamy coffee to cooking a simple meal, to actually unfolding our Total Gym, we use our forearms virtually all day long.
So if you want to develop some functional lower arms, then you’ll definitely want to give these Total Gym forearm exercises a try. You can do them at the end of your usual workout or whenever you have a spare 5 minutes.
Also, be sure to check out the helpful videos that I’ve linked below. They come directly from Total Gym, and they’ll give you a great visual guide on each drill, in addition to our step-by-step textual tutorials.
Related post: TRX forearm exercises
Top 5 Total Gym forearm exercises
These exercises consist of dynamic drills, which are best for muscle growth and overall strength; isometrics, which are great for grip endurance; and stretches, which really help to loosen up tight lower arms.
1. Dynamic wrist curls
Regular wrist curls are problematic for many people because free weights can often place a lot of stress on the wrist joints.  However, by doing them on your Total Gym, you can sidestep this issue because you’re using a percentage of your own bodyweight. Just be sure to start with a low incline level since the forearms are relatively small muscles.
Begin by sitting on the glideboard of your Total Gym, body facing toward the machine, and then place your feet together at the end of your glideboard. Grab the handles and sit up straight. Then, rest the tops of your forearms on your thighs and allow your hands to hang off the edge of your knees. This is the starting position.
Move the handles toward you by flexing your wrists until your hands come up higher than your forearms. Do this motion while keeping your lower arms glued to your thighs—remember, we want to keep this an isolation exercise. Once your wrists are flexed, squeeze your forearms and then slowly lower the handles back to the starting position.
Repeat for 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps. We want to use high reps exclusively here because the range of motion (ROM) is very small for wrist curls. As such, it’s difficult to get enough time under tension with low reps.
2. Dynamic reverse wrist curls
This drill is one of the most effective total gym forearm exercises for training the wrist extensors, and it’s essentially the opposite of the first drill.
Once again, sit on the glideboard and shuffle your feet to the end. Grab the handles, but this time, rest the underside of your forearms on your thighs and let your hands hang off the edge of your knees. Curl the handles toward you by extending your wrists upward until your hands become slightly elevated above your forearms.
Contract your forearms at the top of the rep, and then slowly lower the handles back down. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps. You can also superset this drill with the regular wrist curl variation to save time while improving your forearm endurance.
3. Isometric forearm holds
Maintaining a firm, functional grip is important as we get older. This is because having functional hand and finger muscles can help us to carry shopping bags and, ultimately, live an independent and happy life. A strong grip can even lower our blood pressure. 
This static hold drill works the forearms, wrists, and fingers isometrically. Begin by sitting on the glideboard and moving your feet to the end of it. Hold the handles and rest the tops of your lower arms on your thighs, once again letting your hands hang slightly over your knees.
Then, flex your wrists until you feel a strong forearm contraction. Hold this contraction for 30-45 seconds and repeat 2-3 more times.
You can also do this motion in reverse—where you rest the underside of your forearms on your thighs—to work the extensor muscles. Note, however, that the extensors are weaker than the flexors, so you’ll need to lower the incline a bit for this variation.
4. Reverse arm curls
Many people consider reverse curls to be a bicep exercise because of the large elbow flexion component. And they certainly are correct. However, what many fitness enthusiasts don’t realize, is that reverse curls are a fantastic forearm drill because they work the extensor muscles and the brachioradialis.
Sit on the pad of your Total Gym while facing the upright part of the machine; your feet should hand off either side. Grab the handles with an overhand grip and pin your arms to the sides of your torso.
While keeping your upper arms still, curl the handles toward you by moving your forearms toward your shoulders (which is to say, by flexing your elbows). Then, slowly lower the handles until your elbows are almost fully locked out again.
You can also do this exercise with your arms outstretched in front of you the whole time if you find it more comfortable.
5. Static stretches
When we spend a lot of time using the computer or working with our hands, the surrounding muscle can often become tight and achy. Therefore, it’s always a sensible idea to stretch out those forearms at the end of a workout to avoid potential problems.
While you can perform these stretches anywhere, the Total Gym is the ideal stretching station because of its thick padding and sturdy construction.
Start by kneeling on the glideboard and then place your palms down on the padding, elbows fully locked out. You can also rotate your palms first, so that your fingers are facing toward you rather than away, as this position might intensify the stretch for some people and make it more effective.
Once your hands are in the correct position, put a small amount of force through your arms so that you can apply some stretch to your forearm flexors. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds are repeat 1-3 more times.
Conclusion and practical advice
Few Total Gym owners realize that they can work their forearms on this wonderful machine. And that’s a shame because the lower arms really are a critical muscle group and one which you want to strengthen to prevent muscle loss.
Out of all the Total Gym forearm exercises, I recommend starting with the dynamic drills because these movements require the most strength. The isometrics are useful for developing your endurance, and it’s always a good idea to finish your workout with some light stretches.
- Kerr, Z. Y., Collins, C. L., & Dawn Comstock, R. (2010). Epidemiology of Weight Training-Related Injuries Presenting to United States Emergency Departments, 1990 to 2007. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(4), 765–771. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546509351560
- Garg, R. (2014). Effect of Isometric Handgrip Exercise Training on Resting Blood Pressure in Normal Healthy Adults. JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC RESEARCH. https://doi.org/10.7860/jcdr/2014/8908.4850
- Total Gym Wrist and Forearm Exercises. (2018, June 29). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvOU4nWEvJ4