By Brock Armstrong Get-Fit Guy
Do you have weak forearms? Is your lack of forearm strength holding you back? Get-Fit Guy answers a listener's question and gets to the bottom of this weakness. I received an email from a listener named Trish a few weeks ago all about the importance of forearm strength. Trish said, "I read somewhere that having weak forearms can limit your ability to build other muscles. That seems extreme. Is it true? And other than not being able to build bigger biceps, why should we worry about our forearm strength? Thanks."
Great questions. I will tackle them in the order they were asked and then give you some exercises that you can do to strengthen those puny wrists.
Let’s start here. Your forearms are indeed used in many exercises you might do at the gym. Exercises like pull-ups, rows, farmer carries, kettlebell swings, deadlifts and bicep curls all involve a certain amount of forearm strength. If you lack forearm strength, your ability to build strength in other parts of your body is indeed compromised.
This is essentially due to the fact that stronger forearms lead to a stronger grip with more muscles generating more squeezing force during your workouts and everyday life.
When you have weak or underdeveloped forearms or wrists, those muscles may be the first group to tire out when you are doing something like pull-ups or rows.
When you have weak or underdeveloped forearms or wrists, those muscles may be the first group to tire out when you're doing something like pull-ups or rows. That means you'll never seriously tax the actual pulling muscles during the workout because your forearms give out too quickly.
We call that the weakest link in the kinetic chain.
First coined by the orthopedic surgeon, Art Steindler, in 1955, the concept of a kinetic chain is described as “individual joints and muscles working together as a group to perform any meaningful motion.” Simplified, this means that when we are doing something like a pull-up, we're not only engaging the major muscles that you're targeting with the exercise (like the back and triceps) but you are also including all the muscles involved in the kinetic chain that performs this movement. This includes your wrists, hands, forearms, biceps, teres major, teres minor, infraspinatus, pectoralis major, coracobrachialis, and so on.
So, if you are doing that pull-up exercise and you have weak grip strength, your back may not get a decent workout because your hands fail before the other muscles even get challenged.
Got it? Ok. Now, you may be wondering how your forearms got so weak in the first place. Let's talk about it.
How Weak is Weak?
A 2017 study pointed out that prehistoric women’s manual labor exceeded that of athletes through the first 5500 years of farming in Central Europe. It compared the bones of Central European women that lived during the first 6,000 years of farming to modern female athletes. The study showed that the average prehistoric woman had stronger upper arms than even today’s female rowing champions.
The researchers said that this forearm physical prowess was likely gained by doing manual farming labour such as tilling soil, harvesting crops, or grinding of grain.
Over three weeks during the trial, the researchers scanned the limb bones of the Open and Lightweight squads of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club who were training twice a day, rowing about 120km per week.
The Neolithic women analyzed by the researchers had arm bones that were 11-16 percent stronger for their size than the rowers.
The Neolithic women (from 7400-7000 years ago) analyzed by the researchers had arm bones that were 11-16 percent stronger for their size than the rowers, and almost 30% stronger than non-rowing students. The Neolithic women were followed closely by the Bronze Age women (from 4300-3500 years ago), who had 9-13 percent stronger arm bones.
So, once again we see that by simply setting aside a few hours a week for exercising (in this case rowing), and then living our sedentary and cushy lifestyles, we don’t hold a candle (or an oar) to our predecessors’ fitness levels.
Now, I know we aren’t all planning to start farming like Neolithic women or grinding our own flour like our Bronze Age ancestors, but there are things we do that require strong forearms. Activities such as opening jars, typing, using a trackpad or computer mouse, washing dishes, wringing out wet laundry, turning a doorknob, using a vacuum, and even driving all require some forearm strength. Then there are the sports we like to play such as golf, tennis, football, basketball, baseball, and CrossFit. Even many of your favorite yoga poses demand some serious lower arm strength.
Anatomy of Your Forearm
Before we get into strengthening exercises, let’s look at a few of the major muscles in the forearm and what they allow us to do.
Flexor pollicis longus: This muscle allows you to bend your thumb.
Flexor digitorum profundus: This muscle aids in bending your index, middle, ring and pinkie fingers.
Flexor digitorum superficialis: Allows you to use chopsticks (among many other cool things).
Flexor carpi ulnaris and radialis: Allows you wiggle your wrist back and forth.
Brachioradialis: Allows you to do the ever-popular “so-so” motion with your hand.
Palmaris longus: Allows you to wave goodbye to a child.
Extensor pollicis brevis: Allows you to give a strong thumbs-up.
Working Forearms: How to Build Strength
Let’s start with some things you can do at home and around your neighborhood, and then we'll dive into some exercises you could do at the gym, if you're so inclined.
Farmer’s Carry (or Walk)
Find a weighted object like sandbags, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, cinder blocks, tires or just about anything else you can get your hands on and simply pick up that object and start walking for as long as you can. When you get tired, set the object down, shake out your hands for a few seconds, then pick it back up again and start walking. Repeat until you get bored or tired or both.
Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups
Using various grip positions (front, overhand, neutral, sideways, reverse, or underhanded grip) do pull-ups, chin-ups or simply some static hanging. Try using a thicker bar as well to make this activity more and more challenging. If the bar you have access to is thin, you can wrap a towel around it t make it thicker or drape the towel over the bar and do your hangs or pull-ups from the towel instead of the bar.
Pick up Heavy Objects
Sure, you can go to the gym and do deadlifts but by simply practicing picking up heavy objects and holding them up and off the ground for a few seconds, you can build useful strength. For example, I was doing the laundry the other day and we had a huge and full bottle of detergent. Picking it up by the handle was challenging but picking it up and holding it by the lid was even harder (and more daring). Plus I could feel it working parts of my hand and forearm that tend to get forgotten the majority of the time. This was an easy way to turn a household chore into a workout.
Find a Playground
More specifically, find some playground equipment and hang from or climb the swingset chains or support poles. Hang from the jungle gym, or go hand-over-hand on the monkey bars. If you’re lucky, and the playground is super fancy, they may even have a small climbing wall. Doing what rock climbers call "bouldering" is an excellent way to build grip, hand, writing, and forearm strength.
Work With Your Hands
Gardening is a great way to not only strengthen your hands and arms but it is also a wonderful way to keep your full-body range of motion intact. Other activities like using shovels, rakes, chopping wood, sawing planks, hammering nails, or pulling weeds lend themselves to strong forearms as well.
Carrying Heavy Bags
This is one that you probably don’t even need to plan for; it’ll likely happen on its own. We’ve all been there—you're carrying a heavy load of groceries and you can feel your grip strength starting to fail. You pick up your walking pace and barely make it to the doorstep before you drop the bags and shake out your hands. This, believe it or not, is an excellent way to work on your grip strength. When you feel your grip strength failing, challenge yourself to see how long you can hold on and try to extend your ability each time.
Go to the Gym
There are a ton of exercises that you can do with weights, resistance bands, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and so on at the gym. These are three of my favorites.
Pinch Plate Hold: Find a weight plate, pinch it between your fingers and let gravity do the rest. You can also do it with a hexagonal dumbbell by using your fingers and thumb to hold the dumbbell out in front of you. The goal is to not drop it.
Finger Curl: In a seated position, hold a barbell with both hands, forearms on your thighs and palms facing up. Lower the bar as far as possible, allowing the bar to roll down your hands, and then catch the bar with the final joint in the fingers and curl the bar back up as high as possible while closing your hands. Hold for a second and repeat.
Dumbbell Reverse Curl: In a standing position, hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your sides, palms facing backwards and behind you. Keep your elbows tucked into your sides and slowly curl the weights up above 90 degrees. Lower the weights to the starting position and repeat. I like this one because it works on your biceps at the same time as your forearms and grip strength
The forearm muscles are the muscles that help us grip everything from a grocery bag to a doorknob to a barbell. From a kettlebell, to a child, to an awkward piece of furniture we have to move. Having forearm strength (and grip strength) means that you have the independence to pick things up and move them around on your own. Plus, the stronger your grip, the more you can lift at the gym and I can’t be alone in my desire to have bulging forearms like Popeye, can I? Oh well, I yam what I yam.
About the Author
The Lake Surprise Loop Might Be One Of The Most Beautiful Short-And-Sweet Hikes To Take In New Jersey
There are so many wonderful ways to enjoy the natural beauty that New Jersey has to offer. If you’re looking for something to do on a slow morning or afternoon, this short hike in New Jersey has big payoffs! Short and sweet, you’ll have great lake views along this fun hike.
This beautiful trail loops Lake Surprise for a leisurely stroll that offers beautiful lake views. It’s easy enough for everyone in your family to enjoy.
The elevation gain along the trail is minimal. You’ll only climb 36 feet in total, which makes it good for all skill levels
This is a good place to rest for a moment and soak in the sights, or maybe take a photo or two. The waterfall is more impressive after a good rain, so if you time it right you’ll see beautiful falls.
The trail is very well-marked, and easy to traverse. It’s a well-maintained hike, following along widely packed earth.
Big boulders provide natural pools and set a relaxing scene during your hike. To keep the trail short, make sure you access it via W.R. Tracy Drive. If you join the trail from the south side of Watchung Reservation, it will be closer to three miles long.
Pack a picnic lunch if you want to spread this hike out, and enjoy the day. If you want to avoid the crowds, be sure to head out early in the day, or during the late afternoon. Whenever you go, you’ll enjoy the sights!
Whether you’re hiking through fall colors, or watching the flowers pop up in spring, there’s always something wonderful to see. Bring a friend or loved one and explore this gorgeous area! Have you ever had the chance to do this short hike in New Jersey? What did you think? Did you love it?
Address: Lake Surprise, New Jersey 07092
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures!
by Michael Dregni for Bergen Review
Feeling anxious? Angry? Hostile? Depressed? There may be an exercise to help with that.
Myriad past studies have found links between physical activity and improved mood in participants with serious clinical conditions. But a recent Columbia University Health Center study, published in Health Psychology, examined whether generally healthy but inactive people without a history of mood disorders could become even happier and better adjusted if they started exercise regimens.
Researchers followed 119 men and women ages 20 to 45. After answering questionnaires about their mental health and lifestyle habits, such as smoking, they were divided into a sedentary control group and an active group. The latter group performed moderate aerobic exercise led by coaches four times weekly for three months; each session included walking, jogging, or riding on a stationary bicycle for 35 minutes and raising participants’ heart rates to 70 to 80 percent of their max.
The aerobic exercise had significant mental-health benefits, as reported by participants on follow-up surveys. And those perks lingered for weeks after people stopped exercising.
“This study reminds us that we have this coping tool available to us,” lead study author and Columbia instructor Kathleen McIntyre, MSW, told the New York Times. “If you can get outside and walk or hike or run safely, it should help with the negative feelings that just about everyone has been experiencing recently.”
Michael Dregni is an Experienced Life deputy editor.
A story by Isabella Lipuma. Blogger and Bergen Review Media contributor.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the native New Yorkers who slander New Jersey.
It’s the 314s and the 574s who would sooner ﬂy to Boulder than cross any “bridge or tunnel” (unless of course that bridge or tunnel magically transports them to Southampton). Remember that Sopranos scene where the Morgan Stanley bro calls to Christopher Moltisanti, “Hey, Bridge and Tunnel Boy, Chill Out!” and Chris responds with a few sweet, threatening nothings that send Morgan Stanley into a tailspin? Wouldn’t you rather be the gun toting, zoot suit sporting Chris than a saccharine blond? I certainly would.
I grew up in downtown Philly, a parochial town (really a “city,” but the deﬁnition is loose) that rests on the laurels of its colonialism. I was then drawn to Fordham University in the Bronx for college, summoned almost magnetically to Arthur Avenue’s Italianate trattorias and bakeries. Following Fordham, I endured a short stint in Brooklyn, hipster, gentriﬁed Brooklyn, whose curated dive bars, medi clubs, and moon circles captured my heart and wallet. After a prolonged yet clarifying return to my childhood home (and headspace), I moved to Hoboken,
New Jersey. Relocating to the Garden State was a long time coming. I spent my childhood pressing my nose against the glass cake marquees at Greek diners in South Jersey. I got my ears pierced at the Piercing Pagoda in the Echelon Mall. Throughout high school and college, I PATCO-ed and NJ Transit-ed my way to boyfriends, Black Sabbath, and Blink-182. I got a Thunder Road tattoo. I spent summer weekends drinking cranberry vodkas and playing Baccarat with my grandparents at Caesar’s in Atlantic City. I won a plethora of Styrofoam-ﬁlled stuffed animals in Point Pleasant and watched the tram car in Wildwood.
In many ways, moving to North Jersey felt perfectly natural—that stubborn melancholia followed me West, but it also rendered my world quite literally Kodachrome (did you know that Paul Simon was born in Newark?).
It was somewhere between The W hotel in Hoboken and a sordid Seaside Heights motel that I ﬁrst fell in love. And while I likely won’t recover the feelings of that particular amour fou, settling into New Jersey feels a little bit like coming home.
This article was contributed by Isabella Lipuma, click here to visit her blog
It's all about how you disagree. Because everyone, in every kind of relationship, eventually disagrees. The success equation involves a number of factors. Determination, willpower, grit--a trait you can definitely develop--is one. Being more likable is another; and yep, you can develop that quality, too. Creating processes that, if followed consistently, lead to the right outcomes. (Call it the Jerry Seinfeld Method.)
None of those attributes come as a surprise, but here's one that might: the person you marry.
People with relatively prudent and reliable partners tend to perform better at work, earning more promotions, making more money, and feeling more satisfied with their jobs, according to researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.
The math is simple. "Conscientious" partners perform more household tasks. They exhibit more pragmatic behaviors their spouses are likely to emulate. They promote a more satisfying home life. In short, a good partner sets a good example...and makes it possible for you to be a better you.
So let's say you've done that. Your partner is conscientious and prudent. So are you.
And you actively work on being supportive. Both of you lead by example, finding ways to help each other achieve individual and joint goals.
Even so: While marrying the right person is important...for the partnership to work, you also have to stay married.
And it turns out there's math for that, too.
The Argument Equation
A psychologist and a mathematician conducted a simple experiment. They asked couples to spend 15 minutes:
The worst emotion? Contempt. (No surprise there.) The best? Humor. But the humor had to be shared.
If we're laughing together, that's a sign of warmth and companionship. If only one person is laughing, especially at the other...that's a sign of disrespect and disdain.
And even contempt.
Each emotion was assigned a score, from -4 (contempt) to +4 (shared humor). The resulting ratio indicated how couples resolve conflict.
And is extremely predictive of the likelihood of divorce.
Some couples averaged five positive comments to every negative comment; those couples turned out to be extremely unlikely to divorce.
Others averaged one positive comment for every negative comment; the couples who fell into that category were almost all divorced within four years.
The 3 Keys to Relationships: Validation, Validation, Validation
The researchers determined a "validating" relationship is most likely to survive.
Think about how you argue. If a simple disagreement often quickly devolves into sneering, eye-rolling, name-calling, etc., not only does that make it tough to resolve a difference, it's also a recipe for bigger problems.
If you're busy arguing, you aren't thinking about your role in the dispute. You aren't thinking about what you might have said. Or done.
And you definitely aren't listening--which means you can't understand or appreciate what the other person is saying. Much less feeling.
Which means you could end up with a "hostile-detached" relationship.
Which means, over time, you could end up with no relationship at all.
The Argument Equation at Work
All of which leads to a broader point.
If a marriage--a relationship at least initially based on caring, affection, and love--can break down due to how people resolve conflicts...think how easily a work relationship (boss to employee, peer to peer, etc.) can break down. The journey from "validating" to "hostile-detached" can be incredibly quick, especially when there's no personal foundation to the relationship.
And that's why three of the most important things you can say when you and another disagree, whether it's with your significant other or someone you hardly know, are:
You don't lose respect when you admit you made a mistake. You gain it.
And you show that you care a lot more about what is right than about being right.
And you show that you care more about the relationship than about being right.
Plus: No one gets enough praise. Saying, "You're right," is not only validating, it also implies praise.
Which is the underpinning of any relationship.
We all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support....
Just don't follow "I'm sorry" with a disclaimer like "But I was really upset because..." or "But I do think you could have...." Or with any statement that places even the tiniest bit of blame on the other person.
Say you're sorry. Say why you're sorry. Take all the blame. That alone will decrease the heat in just about every argument.
Which gets you back on the road to validation.
Which, in any relationship, is definitely the place you want to be.
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The Bergen Review Media Team