Learning the Secret

by Roger LaPointe

The Firestorm Wrist Roller, by Atomic Athletic.

Lost variations of exercises can be your key to success. Because you know the secret, I am going to let you in on this one.  When I stumbled across this variation on wrist roller work, it was one of those DUH moments for me.  You know what I am talking about, when you see something for the first time and say to yourself, “Duh!  Why didn’t I think of that?”

This exercise does not come from an exotic locale, like the Shaolin Temple or a Kushti Wrestling school in Varanasi, but from strange and exotic 1960’s New Jersey.  Of course, to a kid from Michigan, it may as well have been the North Pole. Presented by Professor E. M. Orlick, we have “Series B: Arms Bent and Elbows Held In Against Your Sides”.  Try your wrist roller work with your arms like this.  “Your lower arms must be bent so that they are at right angles to your upper arms and parallel to the floor.” 

If you have one of the Firestorm Wrist Rollers we sell, it should be just long enough for you to have your arms straight out and not crowded in next to the cord in the center.  If you collect wrist rollers, like I do, then you will know how this exercise is virtually impossible to do with the little short red wrist roller that York sold many years ago.  You simply don’t get anything close to a full range of motion in the palms up, bent arm position with a short wrist roller.  Don’t get me wrong, you can do some other interesting things with some of the short wrist rollers, but this is not one of them.

Once you have mastered this movement with a light weight, cut your 10 reps down to 5 reps and really increase the weight.  With your arms in this position, you should be able to do a lot more weight than with the straight arm, palms down position.  In addition to pyramiding the weight, I like to do a set/rep variation in this position that goes from very light weight for 20 reps to very heavy weight where 5 reps may be impossible, then back again, repeating several times.

Take Control of Your Forearms

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe training his forearms from an elevated positions, using a wrist roller and a heavy rope attached to weight. (photo courtesy of Atomic Athletic)

You can take control of your forearm growth. This is what is great about progressive resistance training. You are in control.The key is consistency. I don’t know how many times I have heard people talk about muscle confusion, chaos, or randomness being the key to training. Now, if you are simply an out of shape slob, anything will work when you first start off, because something is better than nothing. However, purely random exercises are not going to help you reach your potential.

The first step in any kind of training is learning how to use your tools. They all seem very simple. For example, how hard can it be to learn how to use a wrist roller? Technically, it is a stick with a cord that holds a weight. The learning process is more than just reading or watching a video, it includes doing something. You must actually pick up the item and start emulating what you have seen.

For example, in the Frightening Forearms DVD I show several methods of using your whole body with a wrist roller.

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=VID111

In the book “72 Consummate Arts Secrets of the Shaolin Temple”, the chapter on the Pot Lifting Arts you will find out a great method on how to increase the weight you are lifting.

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK072

You have read about it and watched me actually do things with a wrist roller. That is the easy part. Get out of your arm chair and be an athlete. Pick up your Wrist Roller and try the techniques you have seen.

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=KT11WR

For a few weeks, you will try something new with your Wrist Roller every single day, regardless of what the rest of your workout is like. Even if you have to use nothing more than a 1 1/4 Pound Plate, you will try the various techniques until you feel you really understand what is going on. IN THE PROCESS, you will actually be getting more exercise than you can believe!

Here is the entire Pot Lifting Arts Kit I have put together:

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=BK72P2

That is STEP 1 toward grabbing control of your forearm strength.

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

A Shark Tearing Flesh

by Roger LaPointe

Atomic Athletic Wrist Roller

Have you ever studied how a shark tears flesh? It is more than just a bite. The shark grabs flesh with its mouth and then twists the limb and grinds the teeth in a smearing motion. A sharks teeth cut like a serrated knife while wrenching the animal against the natural bio-mechanical direction of that limb’s joint. If the shark’s prey does have the ability to resist, let’s say it’s a person standing in shallow water, the jaws quickly reach bone and then tear the tendons and ligaments.

Learn from the shark! Your grip will naturally seize any object like the jaws of a shark. You just need to develop your grip to be as strong as its jaws. The linear motions we are used to working with, in the Western World, are simply not enough. Amazingly, we have a simple tool that has been a part of the Western world’s body building physical culture that is so under utilized it will make you sick! While the simple wrist roller has been sold as an also-ran gizmo for packing a “All-In-One” bodybuilding kit, for kids to open at a birthday party, the martial arts masters of the East have been making full use of this awesome tool! Now it is your turn. Get your Atomic Athletic Firestorm Wrist Roller Now! Make your forearms burn with just the right workout. Whether your sport is combat MMA or grappling on the grid iron, football or fighting, you need this kind of force on your side. Your opponent certainly will be using one.

More pictures of the Atomic Athletic Wrist Roller

Made of the same North American hardwood as the best baseball bats, white ash, you know it’s strong. Our beautiful fire red stain and clear lacquer finish ensure years of serious use.

Length: 21” Solid Hardwood
Grip Diameter: 1 1/4”
Kernmantle Cord Length: 10 FEET

Be one of the first. Here is your link to the forearm strength you have always wanted.

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=KT11WR

All the best, Roger LaPointe

Wrist Roller Tip From Hackenschmidt

by Roger LaPointe

Roger LaPointe trains the wrist roller in strict fashion. (caption by webmaster)

George Hackenschmidt was one of the greatest wrestlers and weightlifters of all time. While his writings on weightlifting were relatively limited, if you take every word very seriously and actually do everything he recommends, you will get extremely strong indeed.

The wrist roller is a tool to which Hackenschmidt devotes more than an entire page and a two illustrations, in his book “The Way to Live”. Here is one tip, “…roll it round with both hands, winding up the cord. Continue until the weight is wound close up and then unwind to full length. Both wind and unwind with continuous and also with reverse rollings. Continue until tired. The rolling movement to be always steady and gradual.” p. 61

http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=KT11WR

Mistake #1: The Unwinding Phase
I see a lot of lifters cheat with wrist rollers. There are a lot of different techniques for seriously training with a wrist roller, but don’t cheat. The only person you are cheating is yourself. Make sure you take the unwinding phase as seriously as the winding phase. Sure, gravity WILL take that weight to the ground, but it is your job to resist gravity, using a strong, secure grip and the full range of motion.

Raise Your Bucket

by Roger LaPointe

Have you ever tried lifting a bucket of water?  Or maybe you have done some roofing work? How about raising a bucket of tools?

Check out this video:
http://www.atomicathletic.com/store/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=VID111

Illustration of Wrist Roller

Lifters from way back, like the Shaolin Monks, would look at a concept and study it from every possible angle. Yes, I called the Shaolin Monks lifters. If you look at the book, “72 Consummate Arts Secrets of the Shaolin Temple”, you will see “The Pot Lifting Arts”, which is simply raising a pot that is filled with sand, gravel or iron filings. Essentially, they are making an adjustable weight. Check out the illustration to the left, showing a monk using a wrist roller. Try it. What you are thinking of as a minor accessory tool is actually the tip of the ice berg. Have you really thought about what you can do with a rope?   The variations are endless, but you need to study the movements. The concept is not limited to the world of martial arts. I had seen wrist rollers for many years, but it wasn’t until I was actually working at the York Barbell Company that I started to seriously investigate the concept.

The JWC Monster Wrist Roller

by Thom Van Vleck

LaVerne Myers, of the Dino Gym, training on the JWC Monster Wrist Roller in preparation for next month's USAWA Grip Championships.

Recently, I made a monster wrist roller out of spacers from an old disc (farm implement that would bust up clods after plowing or aerate the ground).  These spacers look like giant spindles and are about 2″ in diameter in the grip.  I put three on a 1 1/4″ bar.  The two outside ones were for grip and the inside one was to roll up the rope which was attached to a vertical bar loaded with weight.   I was so pleased with it, I made one for Al Myers who then took it and improved up on the design.  I have to admit, Al’s is now better than mine, although I made some changes to mine based on Al’s ideas.

At any rate, I have been using it lately for my grip.  I use it just like a regular wrist roller but I set in in my squat racks  so that it take the pressure off my delts and puts all the emphasis on my forearms.  I try and get really aggressive rolling the weight up and use enough weight to really challenge me.  I pretend I’m trying to squeeze water out of a rock!!!!!

Wrist rollers are a great training tool, even if you don’t have a “Monster” one like me and Al.  If you come to either the Dino Gym or the JWC Training Hall, you will have to give them a try!  Grip has always been stubborn for me to make progress so any new toy adds new excitement to my training and for now, the Monster Wrist Roller is what’s new in my grip training!

My Extreme Wrist Roller

by Al Myers

Al Myers finishing a set with 200 pounds on his Extreme Wrist Roller.

I am going to start off this week of stories on grip training by describing one of MY favorite grip exercises!   Don’t worry – I am NOT one of the winning stories as technically I’m not eligible since I’m the one running the contest!  I just want to share an exercise that is the backbone of my grip training.

The Wrist Roller has been around for years.  Everyone has one and everyone has done this exercise at some point in their training history.  Fifty years ago wrist rollers were practically the only grip exercise trained, and where included as part of “packages” in weightlifting equipment sales.  York Barbell would sell equipment packages (back in the 50’s) like this – a 220# set of weights with a bar, a neck harness, a pair of Iron Boots, and a WRIST ROLLER.  It was an important training implement back then, and still is – it’s just most lifters have forgot about it.  I have used several wrist rollers through the years – from a rope on a dowel rod to now what I call My Extreme Wrist Roller.   I am not a grip specialist, but I really enjoy the training exercises for grip.  I do a little grip training every week.  I don’t specialize on any specific type of grip strength – I try to do a little of everything.  Some areas of grip strength I’m stronger at than other areas.  I have a good squeeze grip, an average round bar grip, and not the best pinch grip.  It is interesting how different lifters will have different areas of  grip strengths.

The one thing I really enjoy about the Wrist Roller is that it works not just the grip, but the forearm muscles as well.  Too many grip exercises are, what I call, “hand dependent”.  This means the “lifting capacity” of these grip exercises are more about the size of the hand or the contact area of the fingers.  Bigger hands and longer fingers – more surface adhesion.  Growing bigger hands is not exactly something you can do.  You are pretty much stuck with what you have.  That is why I like forearm training better.  You can ALWAYS increase the size of your forearm muscles or strength of your forearm muscles.  How many “hand dependent” grip exercises do you train that feel easy up to your max, and then you add 5 pounds, and it becomes impossible?  I can think of several – exercises like the Rolling Thunder and any Pinch Grip exercise.   These type of exercises go for me like this – easy, easy, easy, impossible.   And trying a little harder doesn’t help!!  It is still impossible.    The Wrist Roller is not like that.   You can push yourself as hard as you would like.  Sometimes I think I will NEVER get the loaded vertical bar to touch the bottom of the Wrist Roller (which I consider the finish of an attempt), but I keep after it till my forearms are SCREAMING WITH PAIN!  You can accomplish any lift with a Wrist Roller if you want to try hard enough!  That’s my kind of lift.

After a few sets with this Extreme Wrist Roller, your forearm will be PUMPED!

I like to do progressive loads with my Extreme Wrist Roller.  I will usually start with a couple 45’s and then add weight as I add sets.  I try to do 4-5 sets total in about 15 minutes.  As I said, I’m not a grip specialist and usually do my grip training at the end of a regular workout.   I only “train grip” with the time I have left over.   But I’ll tell ya – 15 minutes on my Extreme Wrist Roller and you will know it!  Your forearms will be “blood engorged” and cramping from the exertion.  At times I can hardly close my hands when I’m done.   I made this Extreme Wrist Roller several years ago.  I was getting tired of those silly “rope on a stick” wrist rollers because I felt my shoulders were limiting me in how much I could wrist roll, because of the way you had to hold your arms out in front of you during the exercise.  With my Extreme Wrist Roller, the wrist roller is supported by the cage and it takes all of the shoulders out of it, and places all of the stress of the exercise where you want it – on your forearms.  The roller has a two inch knurled handle.  Your grip will not fail before your forearm muscles give out.   A side benefit is that the knurled handle will shave off all of your hand calluses by the time you are finished.  After you get the VB to the top – the exercise is not over.  You then need to lower it under control.  Sometimes this seems like the hardest part.

Now I hope you won’t forget about wrist roller training.