"The greatest thing about siblings is you constantly have someone putting you in check; there's no room to get delusional about yourself." —Erin Foster, American Comedy Writer, Performer

"His forearms are massive. They are more like fivearms." —Erik Eggers, American Author, Strength Trainer

During school breaks, we love having the family all under one roof again. However, sometimes the competition—especially between the boys—can get overwhelming (see Ping Pong and Powerlifting). From baseball to ping pong to cornhole, the debate over who is the better player is seemingly never-ending. While they have not yet escalated to throwing fists, these arguments have recently migrated into gym warfare, including excessive smack talk.

How many pushups can you do in a row?

How many dips can you do?

I bet I can do sixty dips. Let’s go to the garage gym right now.

I left work on a Tuesday a couple of weeks ago and drove directly to my daughter’s lacrosse game, which was at a local field in our town. My oldest son, Zack, was home for his college spring break. To fulfill a portion of his brotherly obligation, he came to the game to watch his sister play. It was cold, at least for Texas in March, so he earned some much-needed extra points. We stood next to each other, periodically pacing the sidelines, watching her dole out assist after assist in a lopsided affair. As the game progressed, I felt myself getting tired and realized that my intention to train that evening was starting to wane.

WATCH: Forearms First — Building Forearms Like Popeye

“Do you want to train with me tonight?” I asked Zack.

I did want to train with him, but the impromptu request also served as insurance, virtually guaranteeing I would have to follow-through and train too. I wouldn’t let him down, and the commitment was the additional motivation I needed.

“Sure,” he said. “I need to train my lower body because I didn’t do it today.”


The Garage Gym

We kept our mutual promise to train and knocked around in the garage gym. We definitely take our gym for granted, which is to say we are spoiled, but it’s so damn convenient having all of that great equipment at the ready. I was working on maximum effort upper body, which consisted of seated military presses for heavy weight (off pins in the power rack) working to five repetitions, followed by weighted dips. Zack started working front squats. We talked a little between sets as we trained, but not too much. It was good. After completing his leg work, Zack casually mentioned something about his young brother, Harrison. Harrison is seventeen years old and there was an issue that was clearly getting under Zack’s skin.

“Can you believe how much Harrison talks about the size of his forearms?”

I shook my head. I hadn’t noticed. I had noticed he talked incessantly about training in general but hadn’t realized he’d been bragging about his forearm game.

“He thinks they’re huge,” he added. “He’s constantly flexing and talking about how ‘jacked’ they are.”

Then in a not-so-subtle and incredibly ironic change of events—particularly given his statement concerning his brother—Zack completely switched his training to a forearm bombing session.

Gripper Work

As I was finishing up my overhead pressing, Zack was loading our old-school grip trainer with forty-five-pound plates. Who says sibling rivalry is dead?

“How many plates do you start with on this machine?” Zack asked.

“I typically start with one forty-five pound plate and work my way up,” I said, a little out of breath. The late-night dips weren’t flowing too well. He threw on two plates to start.

When we train grip as a normal part in a given training session, we typically perform the exercises after larger movement movements so our hands are already warm and prepared to handle the workload (e.g., a full chin-up or upper body workout prior to the grip training). Any strength degradation associated with pre-exhaustion from gripping the chin bar is offset by how much better prepared our hands feel to handle the workload.

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The Eggers' Roller

By the time I moved on to performing the remaining few sets of my weighted dips, Zack had initiated his heavy wrist roller work. We have a home-made setup we employ in the elitefts Collegiate Power Rack, which essentially involves a large PVC Pipe, rope, chain, and as many plates as you can feasibly handle.

The roller trains your grip, wrists, and forearms with both flexion and extension movements, similar to regular and reverse wrist curls. We utilize the rack rather than a more traditional freestanding mode to remove the shoulder fatigue from the movement. We typically train both concentrically (by rolling up the rope) and eccentrically (by allowing the rope to unwind under control).

Sledgehammer Rotational Work

Zack moved on to perform forearm work using a sledgehammer. He performed wrist rotations while seated on a bench, resting his elbow on his thighs for additional stability. He performed three sets of 10 to 12 rotations, and I could tell he was feeling a massive forearm pump. I thought briefly about mentioning the irony of him performing all of this focused forearm work on the heels of his comment regarding his brother’s bragging.

Conclusion: Sibling Rivalry 

Never underestimate the benefit of healthy competition to fan the flames of an older brother’s training spirit. I had previously written about the advantages provided by group training, in that it assists with both the acquisition of mental toughness and also creates a synergistic environment through completion. Apparently, sibling rivalry is much the same.

"I grew up with an older brother, and the bond between siblings is unlike anything else, and it can be a real journey to accept what that bond is once you both mature into it. Because it's not always what you want. It's not always what you expect. It's not always what you imagined or hoped. But it's one of the most important things in the world." —Ben Schnetzer, American Actor