Updated: Jan 5
Below is my personal experience and should be treated as such. It is not a medical recommendation for any particular exercise and any new exercises should be discussed with a medical professional.
After a few years of bouncing around gyms and routines, I failed to make the connection that a lot of people, with or without CMT, will come to realise with time: strong hands and strong forearms are vital in building strength throughout the body. Even if you feel that your hands aren't affected much by CMT, ignoring the hands and forearms will make atrophy of these muscles more likely while hindering progress for other muscles that have any reliance on the lower arms.
Basic Forearm and Hand Workout
As with most of the commonly known muscles, the forearms are comprised of multiple muscles, the same goes for the hands. To maximise the effectiveness of a workout, target each muscle group thoroughly. Personally I use a gym and free weights when working out my lower arms, so here is my recommendation after spending 12 months focusing on my forearms and I believe represents a good steady foundation for novices or anyone looking to improve their lower arm strength.
1. Inverted Curl
This exercise can be done with either a set of dumbells, a barbell or an EZ Curl bar (recommended). Hold the barbell at waist height with a shoulder-width grip. Then, keeping the elbows tucked in, lift the weight up to the top of your chest as you would with a regular bicep curl. As the forearms are a collection of many smaller muscles, I prefer the approach of 4 sets, 15 reps:
2. Wrist Curl
Wrist curls can be done in a multitude of ways, with either a set of dumbells or a barbell. I personally do them standing due to the challenge of finding a free bench in a gym, but the traditional approach is to kneel over a bench with your wrists in front of you over the edge of the bench, with palms facing up. Then, in a smooth motion, curl the weight towards you, pause at the top, and in a controlled manner return your wrist to the starting position. An example routine is below:
3. Inverted Wrist Curl
Similar to wrist curls, inverted wrist curls are almost identical, except with the palms facing downwards. Using either a barbell or a set of dumbells, kneel over a bench with your wrists in front of you, palms facing downwards. In a smooth motion, curl the weight towards you, pause at the top, and in a controlled manner return your wrist to the starting position. An example routine is below:
As you can see, wrist curls, both inverted and regular are very similar to each other but exercise different muscles so neither should be seen as an alternative for one another.
Once you feel you can do these individual exercises, try linking them together for a superset that really puts the lower arms into overdrive, and if you're reaching the final rep of the last set without a problem, increase the weight as need be. Also, play around with the set amount and repetitions; a common combination is 3 sets for 12 reps. Find what works for you and let the community know over in the forum!