There’s nothing more impressive than a pair of muscular, rippling, vein-popping arms.
And this is especially true if your biceps, triceps, and forearms appear to be proportionate to each other.
However, I know for a fact that many trainees wonder why their forearms are bigger than their biceps.
Plus, this often seems to be the case even when they specifically focus on training their biceps.
So, what exactly is occurring here?
Allow me to reveal all and explain why your forearms are bigger than your biceps
Why Are My Forearms Bigger Than Biceps?
One of the main reasons why your forearms are bigger than your biceps comes down to “cheating”. In effect, you’re not actually working your biceps properly. This could mean that you’re not getting full range of motion, bouncing at the bottom, using momentum to get the weight up, rushing the eccentric portion of the lift, etc. Furthermore, depending on your lifestyle, you could be stimulating your forearms much more regularly, especially if you play particular sports, e.g. rock climbing, tennis, baseball, etc.
1. You’re “Cheating” on Your Biceps Workout
I am actually specifically going to focus on “not training your biceps” in a later section.
However, the size of your forearms compared to your biceps can actually be impacted even if you are performing bicep exercises.
Firstly, regardless of the exercise, when you train your biceps you’re going to stimulate your forearms too.
Just the simple fact that you’re holding a weight in your hands will automatically activate the forearms.
The exact same can be said for any exercise that involves testing your grip.
Any grip-based exercise will once more automatically work the forearms too.
By the way, this is something that you should be wary of when performing bicep exercises.
The harder your grip, the more forearm activation there will be.
Why Do I Feel Bicep Curls in My Forearms?
And, in truth, you don’t actually need to grip a barbell or dumbbells that tight when you’re working the biceps.
With that being said, you can train the biceps without actually “working” them at all, or simply work them extremely poorly.
What I mean by this is that it’s likely that you’re cheating and therefore giving the biceps very little direct stimulation.
The most common forms of cheating include:
- Not going through the full range of motion. In fact, most people don’t extend far enough at the bottom of a bicep curl and take it too far at the top.
- Using your body or momentum to get the weight up.
- Bouncing at the bottom of the movement rather than coming to a complete stop and then curling the weight back up.
- Concentrating on the curling portion of the lift and rushing the eccentric.
If you are guilty of any of these it will severely hamper your bicep growth.
Plus, the simple fact that you’re holding a weight in your hands will mean that your forearms are heavily stimulated throughout the entire movement.
In essence, your forearms are getting a fantastic workout, and you’re not even hitting the biceps correctly.
This will obviously lead to greater growth in the forearms.
So, if any of this rings true to you it’s time to fix your form.
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2. Focus on the Mind-Muscle Connection
Something you’ll often hear when training biceps is to concentrate on the mind-muscle connection.
Initially, this probably sounds a little strange, and perhaps even impossible to do.
However, by really focusing on contracting and squeezing the biceps at the top of the movement and then fully stretching at the bottom can make a world of difference.
In fact, using the mind-muscle connection has been responsible for many trainees experiencing significant gains.
So, as silly as it may sound, it definitely works.
A great way to bring the mind-muscle connection into your biceps training is to begin with some low-weight, high-rep work.
To be honest, this could be as simple as performing a couple of 20-rep sets with resistance bands.
Something else to consider is that actually using a lighter weight during your bicep workout can pay dividends.
More often than not, much of the “cheating” I mentioned earlier is because you’re trying to lift too much weight.
However, the biceps typically respond much better to using lighter weights.
This allows you to go through the full range of motion, perform exercises at a slower pace, whilst really ensuring that you fully contract your biceps at the top of the movement.
If you can do this then it won’t be long before your biceps catch up and eventually overtake your forearms.
3. Genetics, Lifestyle & Sports
Another reason your forearms are bigger than your biceps actually has nothing to do with your time in the gym.
Firstly, love it or loathe it, genetics always play some part in how our bodies look.
And unfortunately, some of us are predisposed to having small biceps.
Genetics can also play a role in the shape of our biceps, and even how much we can grow them.
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This is not to say that you can’t get bigger or more defined biceps, but you may be limited to what you can achieve.
I will also say that your general lifestyle or even the sports you play could have an impact on your forearm to bicep ratio.
As an example, someone who goes rock climbing regularly will probably have a great set of biceps, but their grip and forearms are likely to be phenomenal.
The exact same can be said for sports like tennis, baseball, or any sport that requires you to use your grip.
In effect, you’re training your forearms on a regular basis, probably without even realising it.
So, the simple fact that your forearms are being trained much more than your biceps reveals the probable cause.
4. You’re Not Actually Training Your Biceps
Okay, I mentioned earlier that you could be training your biceps without actually properly activating them.
However, it could also be a case that you’re not actually training your biceps at all.
As popular as the biceps are, there are still many people who don’t train them directly.
I would say that this is typically limited to those who perform a lot of pulling-based exercises.
So, if you have a healthy diet or bent-over rows, one-arm dumbbell rows, lat pulldowns, seated cable rows, pull ups and chin ups, you may feel that this is enough.
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Plus, through proper progressive overload of these exercises, as well as good nutrition and a calorie surplus, you may find that your biceps develop quite well.
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However, the simple fact that for all these exercises you’re required to hold a weight in your hands (or hang from a bar while supporting your entire body weight) means that your forearms are constantly being stimulated.
There are those lucky ones among us who can produce a fantastic set of guns by simply performing these pulling exercises.
With that being said, there are just as many of us who won’t experience much bicep growth at all unless we specifically train them.
So, if you do perform a lot of pulling exercises, but you feel your biceps are starting to lag behind, it’s probably time to get a few sets of bicep exercises done every week.
Build Bigger Biceps Without Curls
So, I hope you understand that there are a variety of reasons why your forearms are bigger than your biceps.
Initially, this may come down to poor form when performing bicep exercises.
The simple fact that you’re holding a weight in your hands will automatically stimulate the forearms.
However, you can “cheat” your biceps by not using a full range of motion, bouncing at the bottom, using momentum to get the weight up, or rushing the eccentric part of the lift.
It also helps to focus on the mind-muscle connection, which can be achieved by stimulating the biceps prior to your main workout.
You should also be aware that genetics play a role, as well as your overall lifestyle, or if you take part in certain sports.
As an example, rock climbing, tennis, or baseball will all train your grip and therefore activate your forearms.
If you’re looking for your biceps to “catch up” with your forearms then check out my Review of the Blast Your Biceps Training System.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.