Are Your Elbows and Forearms Forcing You to Change Your Challenge Workout?

My pal, Rick Kaselj has helped me with some of my aches and pains so I thought it’s be cool if I featured him so he could help you too.

This week he’s going to be on my blog and he’ll address elbow pain which has been the bane of my progress for both pull ups and the human flag. If I’m suffering from elbow pain at times, I know that you likely may have some of the same pains.

So I’ll let Rick take over from here….

I was teaching a course at a local college and a participant in the class asked me about his forearms and elbows pain.

When he was working out his upper body, he would fatigue in his forearms before he would fatigue in his upper body.

He asked me what caused this and what he could do about it.

I let him know it was sticky stuff in his forearms.

pull up exercises


#1 – Sticky Stuff in Your Forearms


Many times the movements and exercises in your wrist and forearms focus on flexion. Flexion is when you are moving your palms towards your forearms.

If you think about it, most of the exercise we do in the gym, bootcamp or challenge workouts involve this movement.

Examples of Wrist Flexion Exercises:

–       bicep curls

–       seated row

–       chin up

–       pull up

–       lats pull down

All of these exercises involve wrist flexion and will lead to overworking the forearms.

This is fine for a while, but with time an imbalance occurs in the forearm muscles in the front (flexors), compared to behind (extensors).

One of the key factors leading to this imbalance is sticky stuff in your forearm muscles.

Let me explain to you what this sticky stuff is.

When we work out, we cause trauma to our body. Our body responds by getting stronger. Repeated exercises and movements of the forearms leads to adhesions in the forearm. These adhesions are like fibrous bands of scar tissue that end up sticking to the muscles in the forearm, leading to a decrease in wrist movement, muscle elasticity, and strength; they also lead to the forearm fatiguing faster.

What can help remove these adhesions is having someone massage them out, or to take the time to help your body recover from the workout.

There is a lot we can do ourselves when it comes to helping overcome these adhesions. Stretching helps a little, but what works better is a combination of self-massage and stretching.

If you don’t believe me about the sticky stuff, let me ask you one question.

#2 – Do You Get Pain in the Wrist with Push-ups?


If you have pain in your wrists or have had pain in your wrists when you do push ups, this is the effect of those adhesions.

The adhesions have decreased the flexibility of the forearm muscles and the strength of the forearms, leading to pain and sensitivity.

You need to work on getting rid of these adhesions before it continues to get worse.

#3 – One other Thing That Could Be Making it Worse


One other thing that could be making your forearms and elbows sore and weak is your posture.

I know, another reason why your mom was right about how bad posture is not good for you.

pull up exercises

I think this will be a new one.

If you drive, work on the computer, or work out in more of a rounded forward posture, this puts your whole body into flexion.

The body being in greater flexion in your neck, shoulder, elbows, wrist, back, hips, knees, and feet all lead to greater shortening of the muscles in your body.  This whole body flexion leads to the muscles in the forearms and elbows building up more adhesion, and shortening up even more.

#4 – You are as Strong as Your Weakest Link


Before I wrap up, let me highlight one more thing.

When it comes to your body, you are as strong as your weakest link.

In exercise, if you have weak knees, you are limited with how much you can do because of them. This limits the exercises you can do and how hard you can go, which affects your fat loss results.

If your weakest link in your upper body is your forearms, this limits how much upper body work you can do. You will end up plateauing in the weight that you can do. Your weight may also decrease, and you will have a decrease in the reps you can do with chin ups, pull ups, burpees, and rows.

#5 – Keeping the Elbows and Forearms Happy


You need to take some time to keep your forearms and elbows happy.

pull up exercises

I am not talking about hours of exercises focusing on them. There are pre-habilitation and preventative techniques that you can sprinkle within your workout that will fend off forearm and elbow weakness and pain.

There is a good chance that if you have forearm and elbow weakness, the next thing is an injury, and injuries are no fun.

About Rick Kaselj

rick kaselj

Rick Kaselj is a personal trainer in Surrey, Canada who specializes in designing exercise programs for clients recovering from injuries. Rick has trained thousands of clients and completed his Master’s of Science degree focusing on injury recovery. Rick shares with other fitness professionals, and exercise enthusiasts, exercises that help prevent your elbows and forearms from being the weakest link in your upper body. You can get more information about his forearm and elbow program by visiting .