Wrist Roller – The Best Exercise For Increasing Forearm Strength

Wrist roller article with a picture of Bruce Lee? It’s not a coincidence. Besides being an overall health and fitness and martial arts fanatic, he put priority in training his abs and his forearms. The reason for this was that in martial arts power originates in the core or stomach muscles, but is transmitted through the hands.

Bruce Lee was not a “fitness freak” just for the sake of it. He had a definite major purpose –an idea he got from Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. His supreme physical shape is a manifestation of his pursuit of excellence in order to achieve the life he wanted for himself and his family. He actually achieved his dream goal of being the biggest Chinese Star in the world.

The Wrist Roller – Fantastic for Forearm Strength

I believe using wrist roller because is one of the best ways to train your forearms. First, you get to train with a fatter grip which always makes the exercise harder and allows for more work to be done by the gripping muscles in the forearm.

Second, both the extensors and the flexors of the wrist get to be worked in a single exercise. But the best part is that you are not simply flexing a muscle and trying to keep tension on it. You are doing real work so your muscles can’t help but work at full capacity.

What Is a Wrist Roller

The wrist roller is a simple device that you can create yourself very cheaply. It’s basically a piece of PVC piping to which you attach a rope. At the end of the rope hangs a weight plate.

You can attach the rope to the pipe by drilling a small hole, guiding it through and tying it. A karabiner at the other end of the rope allows you to slide it and clip it to secure the weights. In this way adding more weight is fast and easy.

How to Train With the Wrist Roller

Take a look at this video we shot at the awesome terrace of our gym. The exercise is simple – you hold the wrist roller in front of you and roll under control up and down. Make sure to roll in both directions – to work both the flexors and extensors of the wrist.

Also control the lowering portion of the move. Generally beginners don’t need direct forearm training. Once you are past beginner stage however, and especially for folks with skinny forearms like me, it’s forearm workout time.

The forearms can be trained very heavily. Work them out with the wrist roller at least 3 times per week with at least 3 sets of flexion and extension. The weight and reps depend on your choice – both high and low reps work – just make sure to work at your limits in order to make the forearms grow.

How to Create Your Own Wrist Roller

It is actually very easy to create your own wrist roller. All you need is a thick PVC pipe, a rope and some weight. Here are a few tutorials on how to create a sturdy axle mounted wrist roller so you are not limited in the weight you can use:

  • DIY Wrist Roller Ross Enamait posted a new tutorial on his blog on how to create your own wrist roller and mount it on a squat rack.
  • Axle Mounted Wrist Roller This is the original thread on Dave Draper’s site. This particular page is a fantastic resource for all sorts of DIY home equipment.

17 thoughts on “Wrist Roller – The Best Exercise For Increasing Forearm Strength”

  1. Yavor,
    I think forearms are one of the most underrated body parts/exercised. I like to include Heavy Grips in my workout as well (also called Captains of Crush). These aren’t the standard little grippers, they have a ton of resistance and really work the hands/forearms. It’s nice to dream about being like Bruce Lee and being able to stick two fingers through the side of a soda can. I’d settle for his one inch punch technique though!

  2. Yavor,

    Looks like today is definitely “forearms day” as I just put up a post about my adventures with forearm exercises in the past. (More of an indictment of the current bodybuilding-based paradigm of fitness.) These days I rely on working my forearms doing kettlebells, pull ups, and deadlifts. But the wrist roller is FAR more effective than all the wrist curls I wasted my time doing.

  3. Interesting it’s one area I’ve never given any thought about! Wrist and forearm development was never that exciting ( I tried wrist curls and couldn’t be bothered after awhile) but I might try this.
    Love the idea of making your own … I really didn’t want find out I had buy a $100 machine to get “fantastic forearms”

  4. Dave,

    wow, those grippers are awesome. I have a rubber ring that my dog used to play with but I stole it and now use it to train my grip. What level are you at with the Captain of Crush?


    I agree about the multi-joint exercises being great for forearms. But there comes a time when you need to pay special attention to the lower arm 🙂


    I’m all for DIY and free options. Fitness shouldn’t take a lot of time or money.

    Cheers fellas,


  5. I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan. I have his book “The Art of Expressing the Human Body” and I recall it saying that he was obsessed with building strength in his forearms and that he had an entire file on forearm articles he had read and saved. He would also order any forearm program he saw advertised in magazines!

    I used to do wrist rollers, and man did they kill my forearms. I used to wrap a thick towel around a barbell and then tie two strong shoelaces around the bar and loop them through the weight plate. And it worked! I work out at home so I have to be creative 🙂

  6. David,

    I’ve been studying his methods too. The Art of Expressing the Human body has quite a few neat ideas in it. Your idea for a DIY wrist roller works. However a PVC pipe is super cheap and you get a wrist roller that you don’t need to take apart. In fact, I might assemble a new wrist roller for my home workouts soon 🙂

  7. Another great video and excellent info! I’ll make a confession, I neglect my forearms more than I should, shame on me, but will probably start incorporating more forearm exercises now.

    The crazy thing is I really feel my forearms working when I do incline DB press and flat DB press for chest – I use irradiation on these lifts and clench pretty hard which might be why, or I just have really weak forearms.

  8. Yavor-

    Great post on forearm strength.

    Back when I was really into playing baseball, I remember how professional scouts would grade each prospect’s potential by taking notes on the strength of their handshake.

    A prospect’s future throwing and hitting strength were all projected, in part, by their grip strength!

    I found the wrist roller very helpful, especially with a thicker handle.

    Other ideas include sandbag training (grab the folds for a DEMANDING grip workout!), thick bar/dumbell/kettlebell training, and, my personal favorite, towel pullups.

    Thanks again the post.


  9. I was never a big fan of isolated exercises, especially for forearms (i.e. wrist curls). Performing compound exercises (like chin-ups, deadlifts, pushups) target forearms as well as the larger muscle groups. I agree with Darrin in that wrist curls are a huge waste of time. But the wrist roller is by far the most effective forearm exercise. I do them consistently to improve grip strength.


  11. What is a good weight/rep range with the wrist roller?

    What is a great one?

    This is important to me. I would really appreciate your help. When I say great one, I am referring to an elite male athlete who is a wrestler, rock climber, martial artist, etc. and weighs 175 lbs.


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