Forearms can be a very aesthetic muscle group. I probably get as many comments on my forearms as my upper arms and pecs. Which is to say, almost never. But still, you know … sometimes.
Some of the best forearms in bodybuilding history were built with barbell and dumbbell wrist curls. Look at Dave Draper as an example.
Unfortunately for me, wrist curls have always felt really clumsy and uncomfortable. I’ve tried sitting every which way, but I just can’t get the dumbbell to go through the groove the way I want it to. And hey, even if wrist curls feel fine for you, sometimes it’s fun to try something new.
I didn’t invent this forearm trainer thing. I first saw it in a picture of John Grimek using it. I don’t know what it’s called, but I call it the Wrist Roller.
What You’ll Need:
- Wooden Rod – 20 inches long, 1 inch thick
- Rope – 45 inches long
- Chain – 35 inches long
- Carabiner clip
- Cut your rod to the proper length. Make it long enough that you can place your hands at shoulder width
- Measure and mark the center
- Drill through the center
- Feed rope through the hole and tie on one end
- Measure and cut rope
- Tie rope to carabiner clip and attach chain
I started out with a piece of wooden rod, about an inch thick and 20 inches long. This was a leftover piece of rod that I got for a different project. A thicker rod would probably be even better for the forearms.
You can cut the bar to any length that you want. Mine is just wide enough that my hands are about shoulder-width apart when at the very ends of the rod. If I were to do it again, I’d make it just a little longer, but this length is short enough that I could fit it in gym bag and take it with me.
After drilling a hole through the middle of the rod, I fed a 45 inch long rope through it and tied it with a figure-8 knot. Make sure you measure for the exact center, so the weight winds up evenly. The other end of the rope is tied to a carabiner clip. The carabiner is then attached to 35 inches of steel chain, which I then feed through the weight plates.
You could also build a wrist roller without chain, as John Grimek has in the photo above. The chain and carbiner just make it a lot easier to switch out weight plates.
The length of the rope and chain will depend on your height. My rope and chain are long enough that, if held at shoulder height, the weight is flat on the floor. I usually stand on a step while doing these, making for a longer repetition. If you’d rather not stand on a step, you might want a shorter rope.
You can leave the wood untreated as I did, or you could paint it or stain it. My sweaty palms have done enough to the wood over the years as it is, in my opinion. I had covered the rod in duct tape at one point to try to get better grip, but I wouldn’t recommend that to any of you; most of the tape peeled off right away and it never did anything for grip, either. The last of the tape’s still there because it gives my wrist roller some extra character … and because I can’t get it off anymore.
This DIY forearm trainer is a really simple project. It’ll only take you minutes to make and, so far, mine has lasted maybe 2 years.
What’s great is that by rolling the weight up and down, you really get to use both the anterior(front) and posterior(back) muscles of the forearm in the same set. Try winding the weight up in different directions and see how it hits the different muscles of the forearm.
Adding It To Your Routine
Just wind the rope up onto the rod until the weight is wound up as high as it can go, then slowly roll the weight back down. That’s one rep. Sometimes I choose a weight that I can do 3-5 reps with, other times I go for “singles.”
It’s important to really focus on flexing your forearms with every rotation. Really use your muscles.
Try super-setting these with some reverse curls to really demolish the forearms. Feels good.
Are you going to build one?
Let me know in the comments below. If you have any questions, I’ll answer those, too. Happy lifting!