“The brachio …. what?” Though you may know very little about this unsung hero of the forearm at the moment, we are going to explain the importance of this muscle and then teach you the three best exercises to build envy-inspiring mass and strength in your brachioradialis.
What is the Brachioradialis
Sure, it sounds like a big plant eater from the Paleolithic period. But, in reality, the brachioradialis is the essential muscle that runs along the thumb side of your forearm. To get a feel for this muscle, hold your forearm out straight in front of you (parallel to the ground) with your palms facing up. Now, rotate your forearm around so that you are looking at your knuckles. This movement, which is actually pretty cool, was made by the brachioradialis.
How to Target the Brachioradialis
When we flex our elbow as we do during a bicep curl, the brachioradialis is actually as involved as our bicep. Furthermore, by flexing our elbow with our knuckles facing each other (neutral grip – see hammer curl below) or with our knuckles facing up (pronated grip – see overhand reverse curl below) we are activating the brachioradialis and inhibiting our biceps. So, why would we want to do that?
The Muscle that Always Seems to Be Training
While you may not have had the intention of training the brachioradialis, if you spend much time in the gym, you most certainly have been. This muscle is vital to any movement that involves flexion of the elbow or rotation of the forearm. Moves such as pullups and cable lat pulldowns both effectively challenge this muscle even as they target the larger more popular muscles of the upper body. As a matter of fact, even exercises such as deadlifts or bent over rows are challenging the isometric endurance of your forearm muscles. And, if you’ve ever performed a Zercher squat, you may have noticed the isometric taxing of the brachioradialis and biceps as they hold the bar in place.
Why Isolate the Brachioradialis?
Okay, so if this muscle is already receiving so much indirect action, why should we isolate and target it specifically?
Have you ever been training and noticed that your forearms and your grip were wearing out? You could barely hold the weight, yet you had plenty of strength left in the larger muscles you were attempting to target? This can be frustrating and prevent adequate activation of larger muscle groups.
By isolating and strengthening muscles such as your brachioradialis, you will be able to more effectively perform the compound exercises that develop strength and size in your back and arms before your grip begins to fail.
Many of us lift for more than just functionality. Sometimes, we just want to showcase massive guns to the world. Blown up biceps are fantastic, but they don’t look so great when joined to spindly forearms. We cannot change our genetics, however, we can certainly isolate and blast our brachioradialis. In doing this, we achieve a lovely curved definition that will compliment the other muscles we have worked so hard to achieve.
The 3 Best Exercise for the Brachioradialis
While the compound movements mentioned above do work the brachioradialis, the three following exercises can completely isolate and pulverize this muscle. The secret is to have your wrist in either a neutral (looking at your thumbs) or a pronated (looking at your knuckles) position.
3. Overhand Reverse Curl
The overhand reverse curl is great for hitting the brachioradialis. In addition to the activation in the bicep, the reverse (pronated) grip will also bring the brachioradialis into play. You can use dumbbells or a barbell. If you prefer to use the latter, try an EZ curl bar as it will be easier on your wrists.
2. Hammer Curl
The neutral grip used in the hammer curl will also inhibit a bit of the bicep’s influence in elbow flexion and really burn up the brachioradialis. Remember to keep your arms close to your side, and ONLY move your forearm as you bring the dumbbell up to your shoulder.
1. Brachioradialis Curl
Finally, the following brachioradialis curl, which was made popular by the Mountain Dog Diet (mountaindog1) on YouTube, is the hands-down (pun intended) winner for perfect isolation and activation of the brachioradialis. In the following video, John Meadows and Eugene demonstrate how to most effectively target and burn out your brachioradialis for increased grip and forearm endurance.
The Brachioradialis: The Little Muscle With A Big Impact
Maybe this muscle isn’t the sexiest, but the strength and endurance of the brachioradialis is important to the training of your larger muscles. Moreover, the overall aesthetics of the arm are enhanced when this muscle is well-defined. These three moves will have you well on your way to a strong, attractive, flaunt-ready form.