Sunday, March 31, 2013

Powerful forearms like Popeye - The first 2 steps of the hang progression

Hey guys,

In this post I'm gonna show you the first 2 steps to strengthen your forearms (the muscles that provide the power to your hands). Strong forearms are the key to success for many other exercises. For example every move executed in a hanging position like pull ups, leg raises and climbing moves are more often limited by the power of your forearms than by the strength of the original target muscles (e.g. the latissimus dorsi by pull ups). Additionally everytime you have to carry something (e.g. your shopping bags or beverage crates) or when you hold on to something (imagine you are in the mountains hanging on a rope with one hand and holding your best friend with the other hand...you really need a lot of forearm power for this!). Last point: With strong forearms you really look more impressive if you wearing a tee...
I hope by now you understand why it's so important to train your forearms as well.

If you ask some personal trainers or some guys in your gym how to train the forearms they pobably gonna explain you some exercises with dumbbells and low ranges of motion. I disagree with them and suggest instead the method Paul recommends in "Covict Conditioning 2" - The Hang Progression.

I'm gonna show you the how-to-perform explanations of the first 2 steps of the series:

Step 1: The Horizontal Hang


Find a horizontal bar, table or other base that is stable enough to carry your bodyweight. This base should be approximately as high as your hips. Get underneath that base and grab it with an overhand grip (like you can see in the video). If possible (depends on your base) your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up a bit so that your back is off the floor and your arms are slightly bent. Keep your body under tension and locked straight the whole time, so that its weight goes only through your fingers and heels. Hold this position for the requested time.


Target: 4 sets of 30 sec (if you can't manage the target instantly, hold as long as you can and try to increase the holding time from session to session)


Step 2: The Bar Hang


Jump up and grab an overhead bar with an overhand grip (like you can see in the video). Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and your feet have to be off the floor. Keep your shoulders tight and your arms, trunk and legs symmetrical.

Target: 4 sets of 1 minute (if you can't manage the target instantly, hold as long as you can and try to increase the holding time from session to session)


Caution: Remember the stuff that is important for all hanging techniques -  Keep your shoulders tight and your elbows slightly bent all the time!

Side-note:
Other good alternatives for strengthen the forearms are heavy-load carry exercises like the farmers walk. As you need dumbbells or barbells for those exercises I decided for myself to stick to the hang exercises (further more I think that they are better than carry exercises because your increase of strength is faster and they are bit more functional).

Cheers,
Andi