What are reverse wrist curls? (A guide to bigger forearms)

What are reverse wrist curls?

What are reverse wrist curls?

A reverse wrist curl is a resistance exercise that targets the muscles in the forearms. It can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells and there are various methods for the movement. 

If your upper arms are big but our forearms are lacking, add wrist curls and reverse wrist curls into your program to make them pop.

Which muscles are worked with a wrist curl?

Wrist curls work the group of muscles on the inside of the forearm, while reverse wrist curls target the outside of the forearm.

What are reverse wrist curls?
The standard wrist curl is responsible for the underside of the forearm. This supports grip strength and elbow flexion. If you want to start heavy deadlifts or weighted pull-ups, developing this group of muscles will be beneficial. 

If you are purely after aesthetics for bodybuilding, wrist curls will help you to have a thicker, proportionate lower arm. 

Many lifters overlook their forearms and don't realize that it may be holding back their numbers on big lifts. 
Add them to your program for a few weeks and see if you can see the difference in your numbers.                                                                                                                                                               

Which muscles are worked with a reverse wrist curl?

What are reverse wrist curls

The primary targeted muscles with reverse wrist curls are the front of the forearm. These are responsible for the flexion of the wrists and hands. Regular training of the forearms will give you an overall fuller, thicker-looking arm. 

How do I perform wrist curls?

There are a few different ways to perform a wrist curl. All of them target the same group of muscles, but from slightly different angles and with slightly different motions.

The standard wrist curl can be performed in a standing position, but for more stability and greater isolation, it is advisable to use a dumbbell bench.

What is a seated wrist curl?

  1. Select a relatively light barbell. Preferably a fixed barbell on a short bar or a loaded EZ bar. This will help with stability.
  2. Hold the bar with an underhand grip. Palms facing away from you as with a standard barbell curl. Hands should be at about shoulder-width
  3. Sit down on the bench, lean forward, and rest your forearms on your upper legs. Let your wrists hang loose so that the barbell bar is below your knees. This is your starting position. 
  4. Without moving your forearms, curl the wrist and bring the barbell up above your knees. Hold this position before slowly lowering the bar.
  5. Keep all other parts of the body rigid. The only part that should be moving are your hands. 
  6. Repeat this movement for the required number of reps and sets.
This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells in the same way. 

An alternative to resting your forearms on your knees is to kneel behind the bench, lean over it and rest your forearms on the padded seat. The movement and muscles worked are the same. If you are planning to superset with reverse wrist curls, it is probably a better option as it provides extra stability.

Standing wrist curls

This exercise works the same muscles as the seated wrist curls but from a slightly different angle. If there are no benches available or space is limited, this option is a great alternative. It doesn't allow as much flexion in the wrist leading to a lower range of motion, but it does allow you to move a heavier weight. 

What are reverse wrist curls?

This exercise is made easier by the use of a rack and a shorter, fixed weight barbell. Have the weight racked just below waist height, back up to it and grab with an overhand grip at shoulder width. Step forward and curl the weight with your wrists. 

Do not move your shoulders or upper arms and keep in an upright position with a straight spine. You are basically now rolling the bar up and down your glutes, so don't be surprised if you get a few funny looks from around the gym. 

What are reverse wrist curls?

Now we are going to focus on the other side of the forearm. This is the visible part that everybody sees when your arms are down by your side.  It is possible to perform a reverse wrist curl with a dumbbell, straight bar or EZ bar. 

Reverse grip wrist curl

The easiest way to perform a reverse wrist curl is from the same seated position as a standard wrist curl. 

The steps are the same except that you will need to use an overhand grip instead of an underhand. You will then rest the underside of your forearms on your thighs and curl the weight up in the reverse fashion. 

This curl is tricky if you are not used to heavy lifting and lack strength in your forearms, so start with a very low weight or even an empty barbell bar. 

For the first few forearm workouts, the DOMS will be terrible for a day or two, but this will stop as the muscles adapt to resistance training.  If you have never experienced DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) or require any further information about it, you can view our detailed guide by clicking on this link.

Alternatives to Wrist Curls

Wrist curls are a great way to improve your grip strength but there are a few other things you can do also:

Use chalk: Chalk can help to improve your grip by providing a layer of protection between your skin and the barbell. It will also absorb sweat, which can make your hands slippery.

Wear gloves or wraps: Gloves and wraps can also help to improve your grip, especially if you have sweaty hands. They will provide a layer of protection between your skin and the barbell and absorb sweat.

Don't overgrip the bar: When gripping the bar, make sure that you don't hold it too tight. This can cause fatigue and decrease your grip strength. Instead, try to maintain a firm but relaxed grip.

Exercises to strengthen your grip:

Farmer's carry: This exercise involves carrying two heavy weights in each hand and walking for a distance. This is a great exercise to strengthen your grip, as well as your shoulders and core.

Grip-strength holds: This exercise involves holding a weight in each hand and maintaining the hold for a certain period of time. This is a great way to build up your grip strength.

Barbell curls: This exercise involves curling a barbell with an overhand grip. This is a great exercise to build up your forearm and bicep muscles, which can help to improve your grip strength.


We hope that you have found this article useful and that it has answered the question - what are reverse wrist curls.

Training your forearms is essential for all weight lifters. 
If you are a bodybuilder, a thick forearm will define the upper arm muscles and add to your overall aesthetic. 

Strength trainers need strong forearms for grip strength. If you want to perform heavy deadlifts or farmer carries, you are going to need a very strong grip. Developing your forearms will help with this. 

We hope that you have found this article informative. 

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