Bodybuilding Exercise: Wrist Roller
What Is a Wrist Roller?
A great way to hit just about all of the wrist muscles is to “roll” them out. The wrist roller is by far the best exercise for developing forearm size and strength. It is to your forearms what barbell squats are to your legs, if not better. This exercise was popularized by the French bodybuilder Richard Andrieu. It adds an element of strength and endurance to training the forearm, as sets are not so much heavy as long. These can be done anywhere, and although there are specific devices to do this movement, you can make a wrist roller quite easily.
The wrist roller is a classic grip and forearm developer, though it is rarely performed in gyms today. Its equipment needs are simple. You can make yourself a wrist roller to use at home if where you train does not have one. When using a thick handle you do not need much weight, and you can even improvise for resistance if you do not have weight plates at home. Alternatively you could take your own wrist roller to the gym with you.
How to Create Your Own Wrist Roller?
To make your own wrist roller, you need some rope and a dowel, broomstick, or even PVC tubing. Make the dowel, which becomes the handle or bar, about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Tie one end of a rope around the middle of the dowel. Let the rest of the rope hang down, and tie the other end around a dumbbell or through the hole of an Olympic plate.
Wrist Roller Exercise Guide – Standing Arms-Extended Wrist Roller Wrist Curl
1. Grab the dowel with a hand on either side of the rope. Extend your arms out in front of you, maintaining a slight bend at the elbows.
2. Alternate hand action to create a rolling action on the bar so that the rope rolls onto the dowel. Keep going until the weight meets the dowel.
3. Roll the rope back out (and the weight down) slowly and under control using the opposite motion. Increase the resistance so that it is difficult but not impossible to get the weight up to the top and back without fatiguing.
- Wrist Roller With Tubing. Attach one end of a length of exercise tubing to the middle of a wrist roller bar, and secure the other end of the tubing under one foot. Stand upright, your feet about shoulder-width apart, and extend your arms in front of you, holding the wrist roller with both hands palms-down. Slowly roll the bar in one direction using long, exaggerated up-and-down movements to work your wrists’ full range of motion. Keep the rest of your body stationary; don’t sway your body or drop your arms. When you can’t roll the tubing any tighter, reverse the direction of the winding movement.
This exercise works both wrist flexors and wrist extensors because there are two actions involved in this exercise: wrist extension and wrist flexion. In extension, the knuckles are raised; and in flexion, the knuckles are lowered. A different set of muscles is involved in each action.
Main muscles: flexor carpi ulnaris, flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus
Secondary muscles: finger flexors (deep and superficial, flexor pollicis longus)
Antagonists: extensor carpi ulnaris, extensor digitorum
- Holding the dowel in both hands, repeatedly flex your wrists clockwise to wind the rope around the dowel and lift the weight. When the weight touches the dowel, repeatedly extend your wrists counterclockwise to unwind the rope and lower the weight. The clockwise wrist motion strengthens the forearm flexor muscles, and counterclockwise wrist motions strengthen the forearm extensor muscles.
- When performing the rolling movement, aim to achieve the full range of movement with your wrist. Draw your wrist as high up and as down low as possible to raise and lower the weight.
- To make exercise easier: (a) use a narrow grip, (b) set up closer to the floor, by kneeling or sitting, so that the weight travels less distance.
- Do it harder: (a) use a wide grip, (b) stand on a bench so that the weight travels more distance.
- It is not necessary to keep your arms out straight in front of you. Done straight out in front, you may end up suffering from more fatigue in your shoulders than in your grip. The point is to train your lower arms to
the fullest, so you can keep your arms hanging (with bent elbows) in the vertical plane, and focus on your grip and forearms.
This move builds strength in the muscles in your wrists, fingers, and the outer forearm. If you’re only going to one wrist exercise, this should be the one.