Superhero Workout Series: Build Arms Like Wolverine

Superhero Workout Series: Build Arms Like Wolverine

December 7, 2016
Updated January 28, 2019
Category: Fitness

There’s one thing nerds and meatheads will always have in common—they both want to be superheroes. Whether you’re a longtime gym rat or not, if you grew up reading comic books or watching action movies, you wished you could have had sleeve-ripping arms like Wolverine, the athleticism of Captain America, strength like Thor, etc.

Well, now you can. Or as close as you can get without undergoing genetic mutation, government experiments, or divine intervention. Introducing our Superhero Workout series—fitness tips, exercises, and routines designed to transform you from a mere civilian into the defender of the planet you knew you were always meant to be. Check back here all week for plans to acquire your favorite superhero’s particular skill or attribute, which we’ll bring you one at a time.

Today, we offer the blueprint for Wolverine’s biceps and forearms.

The Wolverine Workout

Superhero Workout Series: Build Arms Like WolverineWolverine has the best biceps and forearms in the Marvel world—if you don’t count those that are artificially enhanced by Gamma radiation.

The trick to building a set like the X-Man is to challenge your grip on every biceps exercise you do, so you’ll build thickness in your forearms at the same time with no extra work.

C.J. “Murph” Murphy, MFS, a coach to competitive strongmen and powerlifters in Malden, Massachusetts (totalperformancesports.com), offers the following moves to integrate into your training.

1. Neutral-Grip Thick-Bar Pullup

loading...

Murph would prefer you use Grip4orce grips on all these exercises—rubber sleeves that slide over a bar to add thickness. Unlike similar grip-training products, the Grip4orce sleeves have a wide slit that wants to stay open when it’s on the bar. “That forces you to squeeze to hold on,” says Murph. “If you relax your grip, the Grip4orce will slip off. So using them really makes training life or death—if you don’t grip the bar hard on a pullup, you’ll fall. I wish I invented them.”

Performing any exercise on a thicker bar (as a result of the Grip4orce) activates the forearm muscles to an even greater degree, as your fingers will struggle to accommodate the diameter. However, if you don’t have Grip4orce, you can get a similar effect by wrapping a thick towel around the bar.

Hang from a bar that has parallel hand grips so your palms can face each other. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Squeeze the grips (or the towel) as if your life depended on it (and it kinda does), and pull your body up until your chin is over the bar. Perform 8–10 sets of 5 reps, preferably with added weight by way of either a weighted belt or a dumbbell between your feet. “You can do pullups between sets of other big exercises, like bench press or squats, and add and reduce the weight as you go,” says Murph, to make the reps as hard as possible but still doable. Just get the total number of sets done over the course of the workout—they don’t have to be completed back to back.

“Using a neutral grip is going to hit the biceps and a lot more forearm than using a palms-facing or palms-away grip,” says Murph.

2. Banded Preacher Curl

loading...

Set up an EZ-curl bar on a preacher bench. Attach a light loop exercise band (Murph recommends the mini bands available at elitefts.com) to the bar and anchor it to something sturdy. Use the following setup.

Place a heavy dumbbell on the floor (around 50 pounds) a few feet in front of the preacher bench—a power rack or other heavy object will work too. Choke the band onto the anchor point by looping one end through the other and tightening the noose you’ve created around the anchor. Now loop the free end of the band onto the center of the EZ-curl bar. The band should place tension on the bar while it sits on the rack of the preacher, and that tension will increase as you begin curling.

Load the bar (you won’t need much weight) and sit behind the bench. Adjust the height so that the top of the bench comes up to your armpits. Attach Grip4orces to the bar or wrap it in a towel, and rest your triceps flat against the bench. Grasp the bar with hands shoulder-width apart and curl. You should feel maximum tension at the top of the movement.

“Hold it at the top for a second and squeeze your biceps,” says Murph. Take two or three seconds to lower the weight and extend your elbows completely at the bottom. Do sets of 12–15 reps, resting as needed, until you reach 50–60 total reps. Don’t do fewer than 12 reps on any set.

As with the pullup above, the movement works the forearms as well as the biceps, and overcoming the tension of the band provides a new and extremely challenging stimulus to the muscle fibers.

3. Reverse Curl

loading...

Attach Grip4orces or a towel to an EZ-curl bar and grasp it with hands shoulder-width apart, palms down. Stand with your arms extended and curl the bar. Complete 60 total reps, performing 15 to 20 per set, and resting as needed.

Build Arms Like Wolverine

Superhero Workout Series: Build Arms Like Wolverine

Onnit Academy
Onnit Academy is the most comprehensive database of information related to Unconventional Training, a unique new form of fitness methodology that focuses on functional strength, conditioning, and agility using the most efficient means and tools possible. The online database includes articles, videos, tutorials, and workouts featuring alternative implements like kettlebells, sandbags, steel maces, steel clubs, battle ropes, and more.

Free shipping is offered on orders with a minimum subtotal of $150 less discounts. Free shipping is only available in the contiguous U.S. and excludes Fitness and Digital items.
For media inquiries please contact us at media@onnit.com.
In thanks to military and first responders, we're extending a 15% discount off MSRP for all products purchased at Onnit.com.
To qualify, simply verify your status during checkout on the payment step. We verify through ID.me, our trusted technology partner for secure digital identity verification.
After verification, your discount will auto-apply on that order and all future orders.
Please note that this discount cannot be combined with coupons.
If you have any questions or issues with the verification process, please don't hesitate to reach out to Customer Service.
* US Military members, please choose United States as your destination country, as this will ensure your package ships via USPS and that you are not given international shipping rates.
With a subscription, you'll get your favorite Onnit products whenever you want at 15% off MSRP. All automatic, worry free, and with our same great money back guarantee.
Cancel or adjust your order at any time, hassle free. Your payment method will only be charged right before your order ships. The discount applied every time is 15% off MSRP or the current sale discount, whichever is greater. For more information, see the complete Onnit Subscription Terms & Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions.

Secure Shopping

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or enter, submit, or access any information on our website. We incorporate physical, electronic, and administrative procedures to safeguard the confidentiality of your personal information, including Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for the encryption of all financial transactions through the website. We use industry-standard, 256bit SSL encryption to protect your personal information online, and we also take several steps to protect your personal information in our facilities. For example, when you visit the website, you access servers that are kept in a secure physical environment, behind a locked cage and a hardware firewall. After a transaction, your credit card information is not stored on our servers.