By John Brookfield
Author of Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, Training with
Cables for Strength, The Grip Master’s Manual, and Real-World Conditioning
2 x 2 Wrist Roller
In this month’s Grip Tip we will look at a jewel of an exercise and an old tried-and-true method for developing great lower-arm strength and also a great deal of dexterity—the classic wrist roller. This drill will probably be quite difficult at first, due to the fact that you have to use your fingers instead of your entire hand.
To start, you will need a small rope or strong cord; however, instead of using a round bar or rod, we will be using a square board. A 2 x 2 should work best, although you could also use a 2 x 4 or even a 4 x 4. I would suggest using a 2 x 2 as this size will be easy for you to grasp in your fingers no matter what your hand size is. Once you have the 2 x 2 and rope or cord, all you need is a small weight. A brick or even a bucket of sand can be used if you don’t have access to a small plate. As with any exercise, you will have to experiment a bit to pick the right weight and resistance. Once you have the materials, tie your weight onto the rope and wrap the rope around your 2 x 2 so that it will support the weight.
Grasp the 2 x 2 with the fingertips and thumbs of both hands. Start to roll and move the 2 x 2 over and over using your fingers and thumbs. This will start the weight moving upward as the rope wraps around the 2 x 2. Continue doing this with your fingers until the weight reaches the 2 x 2 and there is no more length on the rope. Continue the exercise by rolling the 2 x 2 in the other direction, unwinding the rope and letting the weight go back toward the ground.
You will probably find this exercise quite difficult due to the fact that you are using your fingers instead of grasping a bar with your entire hand as you normally do on a traditional wrist roller. Continue rolling the 2 x 2 forward and then backward, letting the weight go up and then down. Push yourself to keep going and work through the fatigue in your fingers and thumbs.
This drill will help you develop great strength and dexterity in all fingers and thumbs as you strive to keep rolling the board up and down. As you improve, you can try to keep the 2 x 2 moving with only the fingertips instead of the fingers themselves. This, of course, will require more strength due to the lack of leverage. As always, as you improve add more weight and resistance to the exercise.