John Grimek: How To Build Forearms

Reg Park (Mr. Universe Winner and Arnold’s rolemodel!) toured through America and visited the famous strongman and gym owner Sig Klein.

Sig told him time he met the legendary John Grimek was in 1932 when Grimek was only 24 years old! Sig looked at Grimek’s large wrist and asked him to roll his shirt sleeve up so that he could see his forearm, which was enormous.

Then he asked Grimek to roll his sleeve even higher, and the further he rolled it up, the more impressed Sig and the fellows at the gym were.

Here’s John Grimek’s workout for big and strong forearms!

John Grimek Tearing cards-Wind-up with wrist roller
-Wrist curl standing or sitting
-Push-down with wrists on lat machine
-Leverage exercise, dumbbell bar or stick, weight on end
-Wrist curls with cables, dumbbells or kettlebells
-Tossing weight from hand to hand
-Lifting with pinch grip
-Lifting and holding thick handle dumbbells
-Swing with kettle bell, heavy weights
-Squeezing tennis or spongy balls
-Using strong hand grips
-Rolling Newspaper sheets into a ball, using one hand at a time
-Tearing cards, phone books, etc.
-Bend spikes, bars, etc.
-Lifting broom at end with fingers only
-Lifting chair by one leg

Note: Don’t try to include all these at one time. Select a few to include along with your regular workout, but if you plan specialization, reserve them at the finish of your training.

Of all the available exercises for the parts in question, you should find the wind-up, weight tossing and pinch gripping exercises among the finest and best known to give you massive forearms, thicker wrists and a truly powerful grip.

Wrist Roller

John Grimek wrist roller workoutAccording to John Grimek the windup (wrist roller) is one of the very best when correctly done, and when you cheat in this movement you’re only kidding yourself.

Results are more rapid when the wrists are moved over their entire range of movement.Short, jerky movements do not activate the muscles. Correct performance in this exercise is a must.

In working the forearms try to reach the congestion state, and then when you feel they’ve had enough, do an extra set or include another exercise “just for good measure.

Pailor Trick

John Grimek oldschool grip featA very popular stunt for testing the grip and wrist of long ago, although still popular even today in some sections. Lifting the leg opposite to the back rest is harder than if leg under the back rest is gripped. Placing a weight on top of chair makes this a truly tough stunt, especially if weight is placed opposite of lifting arm. Continued practice should help develop strong wrists and excellent grip… Try it!

Leverage principle

John Grimek oldschool grip trainingWrists and forearms are properly exercised by using dumbbell bar with light weight on end as shown above.
Using the leverage principles with reverse grip works wrists and forearms differently. Tossing weight from hand to hand is excellent for grip and fingers.

John Grimek leverage principle workAbove you would see one of John’s fellows ‘Paul von Boeackman’. He first introduced this stunt for testing wrist strength in the states. Stick is one metre long, notched near end to support weight and on other end enough space for hand. Weight is lifted by wrist strength alone. You will be surprised to see how “little weight” you can lift!

Some important wisdoms by John Grimek!

He included a large variety of exercises in his training, which he enjoyed and obtained better results than many who do only one or two exercises and repeat them in endless sets.

According to John Grimek it is necessary to combine forearm and shoulder workout.

Any exercise that works the forearms is usually good for the wrists. Movements that develop the forearms will also help to increase wrist size, depending of course on the present thickness of the tendons and ligaments.

John Grimek cites that in most cases larger wrists results from the thickening of these tendons and ligaments and not from bone growth.

Pinch Gripping John GrimekExercises which work the fingers, such as pinch gripping, gripping thick handle dumbbells and tossing such dumbbells from one hand to the other will give the fingers and the muscles of the hands a very vigorous workout, causing even the forearms to ache.

John remembered that in the old days a number of old school strongmen acquired terrific grips simply by holding heavy dumbbells in each hand, but holding a heavy barbell doesn’t affect the grip or fingers nearly as much as holding dumbbells.

Thick handle dumbbells place more stress on the fingers, hands and forearms than most of the exercises used for forearm development, so have an advantage, and is one of the fasted methods known to strengthen the grip, especially if done with regularity. Another favorite stunt of old timers to strengthen their grips was to walk around the gym holding heavy dumbbells in each hand.

They often contested each other to see who could walk the longest distance, and it was not unusual to find these men pick up and hold dumbbells that weighed over 200 pounds. Only those who tried this feat realize how heavy such a weight can become after holding it for a minute or two.

Like certain other muscles the forearms are hard to overwork and require a lot of vigorous effort to make them grow. So don’t be afraid to give them a real workout at least once a week.

Men with reasonable long, thick fingers and lean palms posses superb potential gripping power and almost always they may do little or no exercise.

Such men have during their youthful years done manual labor that include wide use of their hands and fingers. Young farmers and other hard working laborers, for example, often have large developed hands with large thick fingers and usually have strong grips, which proves when the fingers are exercised they do grow and develop exceptional strength.

Finger lifting in yesteryears was much in vogue, although today it’s a forgotten art and seldom practiced. The lift revealed extraordinary ligament and tendon strength.

John Grimek: “Never do all your forearm exercises at the beginning of a workout. This cramps your arms and lessens your efficiency for the remainder of your training. Reserve such training for the end, especially if you plan to specialize.”

1 thought on “John Grimek: How To Build Forearms”

  1. This is the best. Grimek really did look amazing in muscular and tendon size. And truly a strongman. This forearm article reflects a problem with the modern workout, I think. We confine a set time and a specific location (the gym) and do all of the exercises, sets & reps there. And when we’re finished, we don’t lift anymore that day. But in the Grimek Era, they exercised at home, outside, at the office, in the woods…anywhere anytime anyhow


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