Abs and forearms are two muscle groups that don’t have the most fun of exercises to target them. They are usually obscure, high rep movements that the average heavy lifter isn’t overly excited for. I’m sure there is someone out there who loves wrist curls and bicycles, but I know many, like myself, would rather train these muscles in a more exciting fashion. One simple way to do this is to slot them inside your current workout routine. Keep reading to learn how and where to fit forearm and ab training into your lifts.
All about bracing
Bracing your core in lifts like the squat, military press, deadlift, and any other standing exercise is key to getting your abs activated. It is also key to performing these exercises safely and efficiently. To do this, breathe deeply into your stomach, and feel it tighten with air. Next, hold that air tight while you perform the rep. After the rep, release this breath and repeat with a new one. This will ensure that your abs are wholly engaged in a process that is essential for boosting your performance, preventing injury, and dynamically building your abdominals.
Up the weight
Getting forearm training in is much more straightforward. It’s all about holding heavy weights and not letting go. Heavy weighted exercises in which you are using a pronated grip will greatly tax your forearms. As the muscle try to resist letting go of the weight, they will be building grip strength. This could be in lifts like the deadlift or row, or it could just be in taking dumbbells from the rack and over to your bench of choice. Doing so is essentially a farmer’s walk too.
The farmer’s walk is a great exercise for building up the forearms as well as the core. It involves bracing, which we talked about earlier, and grip strength. The best part is, if you’re lifting heavy enough dumbbells regularly, then every time you move them you’re basically performing a farmer’s walk. This ensures you’re seeing the benefits of this exercise without having to slot it fully into your program.
One other way to up your forearm training, thanks to recent lifting tech, is to buy a pair of thick bar grips. These rubber fixings fit nicely around a barbell or dumbbell, making them thicker and harder to grab. This alteration necessitates greater forearm activation while you are performing your normal lifts. Now the name of the game is training forearms without forearm exercises, and this fits that to a T. Anything, even exercises like bench where you don’t use a pronated grip, can become a forearm lift. Keep these in your gym bag, maybe even combine them with the farmer’s walks, and pump up those cannons.
Keep that brain working
Implementing ab and forearm work is simpler than it seems. All that’s required is some extra bracing and some extra weight. What it comes down to is just being aware of how your body is moving and feeling when you lift. There’s an old joke, saying that any exercise can be an ab exercise if you do it wrong enough. There’s also a universal truth, that you can activate abs even better if you focus on bracing them and moving them with good form. Invite these two neglected muscle groups into your routine, and they’ll take care of you. Who knows, maybe a little ab work was all you needed to push through that bench press plateau? Either way, stay strong and train abs (minus the crunches).