We Explain Popeye’s Forearm Workout For Gigantic Forearms

August 26, 2023 / Workout
We Explain Popeye’s Forearm Workout For Gigantic Forearms

Before we dive into the details of Popeye’s forearm workout routine, let’s take a moment to appreciate the impact this fictional character has had on the concept of strength training.

In the world of cartoon characters, few are as iconic as Popeye the Sailor Man. With his bulging forearms and insatiable love for spinach, Popeye’s strength and physique have inspired many.

The idea of channeling one’s inner Popeye has translated into real-world efforts to build strength, increase grip power, and enhance overall physical capabilities. But have you ever wondered what his secret forearm workout routine might look like? Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the exercises, techniques, and strategies that can help you develop forearms worthy of the legendary sailor himself.

The Forearms: Understanding Muscle Anatomy

Popeye’s signature strength lies in his impressive forearms. While spinach might have been his fictional source of power, the real secret to Popeye’s extraordinary grip strength and unmatched power lies in the intricacies of his forearm muscles. To understand why, we’ll explore the anatomy of the forearm muscles that contribute to his extraordinary grip and power.

The Forearm: A Complex Network of Muscles

Forearm anatomy

The forearm is a remarkable region of the body, housing a complex network of muscles responsible for a wide array of movements, from delicate dexterity to forceful grip. In Popeye’s case, his superior grip strength allows him to crush cans, bend bars, and hoist anchor chains with apparent ease. This strength can be attributed to the coordinated efforts of several muscle groups that make up the forearm.


Brachioradialis and bicep and brachialis

The brachioradialis muscle, which runs along the forearm’s outer edge, is the star of Popeye’s signature pose—forearm flexed and hand to his mouth, demonstrating his strength. This muscle plays a vital role in various forearm movements, making it a key player in Popeye’s formidable grip strength.

Forearm Brachioradialis Exercises:

1- Seated Hammer Curl

Seated Hammer Curl

2- Neutral Wrist Curl

Dumbbell Seated Neutral Wrist Curl

3- Barbell Reverse Curl

Barbell Reverse Curl


On the anterior side of the forearm, the flexors reign supreme. These muscles enable us to curl our fingers, grip objects, and manipulate tools with precision. Anchored to the ulna and radius bones, flexor muscles like the flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and flexor digitorum profundus are the architects of our dexterous movements.

superficial layer of forearm muscles anatomy

Popeye Forearm Flexor Exercises:

1- Barbell Wrist Curl

barbell Wrist Curl

2- Behind The Back Barbell Wrist Curl

Behind The Back Barbell Wrist Curl

3- Dumbbell Wrist Curl

Dumbbell Wrist Curl


In direct contrast, the extensors dwell on the posterior side of the forearm. Their primary role is to extend the wrist and fingers, countering the actions of the flexors. Muscles such as the extensor carpi radialis longus and brevis, as well as the extensor carpi ulnaris, offer the counterbalance necessary for the precision-driven coordination of the hand.

posterior forearm muscles superficial layer

Popeye Forearm Extensor Exercises:

1- Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl Over a Bench

2- Seated Barbell Wrist Curl

Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

3- Weighted Reverse Wrist Curl

Reverse Wrist Curl

Grip Strength:

A star performer within the forearm orchestra is grip strength—a testament to the synchronous symphony of muscles at work. When we grip an object, numerous flexors, extensors, and stabilizers harmonize to generate the force required to clutch, carry, and manipulate. The deeper we delve into the intricacies of grip, the clearer it becomes that true strength lies in the unified effort of these muscular components.

Popeye’s Forearm Grip Strength Exercises:

1- Hand Gripper

Hand Gripper

2- Dead Hang

Dead Hang

3- Farmers Walk

Farmers Walk


Amidst the flexors and extensors, the stabilizers operate silently, playing a crucial role in maintaining joint integrity. These muscles function as anchors, steadying the joints during dynamic movements. They allow us to maintain balance, perform controlled motions, and engage in activities that require a stable foundation.

wrist roller

As we journey into the details of Popeye’s forearm workout routine, remember that while spinach might not be the secret ingredient, the principles he embodies—hard work, dedication, and a commitment to pushing one’s limits—can be applied to your fitness journey. Just as Popeye never backed down from a challenge, you too can conquer the path to formidable forearm strength and functional power.

Popeye’s Forearm Workout Routine

While spinach might not be the core ingredient in this workout routine, we’ll outline a series of exercises that could resemble what Popeye’s training regimen might involve. From gripping to lifting, these exercises will target the specific muscles that contribute to Popeye’s iconic forearms.

Warm-Up: Preparing for the Challenge Ahead

Prior to diving into the workout, dedicate a few minutes to warming up your forearms and wrists. Perform gentle stretches and movements to increase blood flow and prepare your muscles for action.

Wrist Circles Stretch

Exercise 1: Barbell Wrist Curls (3 sets x 10-12 reps)

Simulating Popeye’s flexed forearm position, wrist curls with a barbell help to isolate the muscles responsible for flexing the wrist.

Wrist Curl

How to do:

  • Sit on a bench with your forearms resting on your thighs, palms facing up, and wrists just beyond your knees.
  • Grasp a barbell with a moderate weight using an underhand grip.
  • Curl your wrists upward while keeping your forearms stationary. Pause for a moment at the top.
  • Slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position.

Exercise 2: Reverse Barbell Curls (3 sets x 10-12 reps)

These curls focus on the extensor muscles of the forearm, promoting balanced development and grip strength.

Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

How to do:

  • Similar to the previous exercise, sit on a bench with your forearms resting on your thighs, but this time, your palms face down.
  • Hold the barbell with an overhand grip.
  • Curl your wrists upward while maintaining stationary forearms. Pause briefly at the top.
  • Lower the barbell back down under control.

Exercise 3: Hammer Dumbbell Curls (3 sets x 10 reps)

Similar to the reverse curls, this exercise targets the brachioradialis muscle, contributing to overall forearm thickness.

Seated Hammer Curl

How to do:

  • Stand or sit with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your torso.
  • Curl the dumbbells upward while keeping your palms facing each other throughout the movement.
  • Squeeze your forearms at the top of the curl to engage the brachioradialis muscle.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.

Exercise 4: Hand Gripper (2-3 sets x max reps)

Hand grippers are specifically designed to target the muscles responsible for grip, wrist flexion, and forearm strength. Much like Popeye’s spinach, the hand gripper represents a catalyst for transformation—a tool that propels you toward the realm of hand and forearm mastery.

Hand Gripper

How to do:

  • Select a hand gripper with an appropriate resistance level.
  • Squeeze the gripper with one hand, focusing on a strong and controlled contraction.
  • Hold the squeeze for a second and then release the gripper slowly.
  • Perform as many reps as you can while maintaining proper form.
  • Repeat with the other hand.

Exercise 5: Wrist Roller (2 sets x max reps)

Using a wrist roller with a weighted rope, you’ll engage the wrist flexors and extensors simultaneously, building endurance and strength.

wrist roller

How to do:

  • Attach a weight to one end of a rope and the other end to a stick or bar.
  • Hold the stick with both hands and roll the weight upward by winding the rope around the stick.
  • Once the weight is fully lifted, reverse the motion and slowly lower it back down by unwinding the rope.
  • Maintain a steady pace and focus on engaging both wrist flexors and extensors.

Cool-Down and Stretching: Acknowledging the Effort

After completing the workout, indulge your forearms with gentle stretches to alleviate tension and promote flexibility. Focus on wrist stretches, finger stretches, and forearm stretches to encourage relaxation and recovery.

Conclusion: Be Your Own Popeye

While we can only dream of gaining Popeye’s superhuman abilities, his legendary forearms serve as a symbol of what consistent training and determination can achieve. By following a forearm workout routine inspired by the world’s most famous sailor, you can take meaningful steps toward building your own version of Popeye-like strength and confidence. Remember, it’s not just about the muscles – it’s about embracing the spirit of unwavering determination that Popeye embodies.

Much like Popeye’s unwavering determination, this workout routine requires commitment and perseverance. By consistently engaging in these exercises, you’re not only strengthening your grip and forearms but also embracing the spirit of overcoming challenges.

Posted by
Kelvin johnson
With a career spanning over a decade, Kelvin holds certifications as a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Exercise Physiologist. His mission is simple yet powerful: to provide effective training for individuals willing to put in the work.