November 2015: Extended Depth Wrist Roller
The wrist roller is an old classic forearm builder that is grossly underused, and we believe it should be used in every forearm building program. We consider them "squats for the forearms." Wrist rolling is very effective and hits basically all of the hand/forearm muscles in the context of an integrated, natural movement. Wrist rolling can and should be done in both directions; rolling the bar away from you, and rolling the bar towards you. They are usually done with the knuckles facing upward, but they can also be done underhanded, with the palms facing upward. Again, roll in both directions when working underhand.
There are two basic problems or limitations with the standard wrist roller exercise. One, your frontal deltoids tend to get tired from holding your arms straight out, and this can become a limiting factor. Second, if you are standing on the floor, you can only roll down about 4 or 5 feet maximum. The weight will then hit the floor, and you will need to change direction. This month's featured exercise will address the second problem.
The "extended depth wrist roller" is done in exactly the same way as normal wrist rolling, except that you stand on something that will raise you higher, so that you can roll the weight downward further. In a gym, you can stand on a wide-based, stable bench or on the highest plyometric box ("plyobox") that you can find. Outside the gym, you can use landscaping walls, retaining walls, a STURDY picnic table or park bench, raised decks, etc. Just be sure that you don't slip off the edge or lose your balance; in other words, don't go higher than you are willing to fall, and make sure that you have secure footing. If you are using a second floor deck, obviously make sure that no one is nearby underneath you. You have got to use some common sense here and be safe. If you use a raised deck with a railing, you can sometimes brace your forearms on the top of the railing with your hands extending over the edge - this will solve the frontal deltoid fatigue problem as well.
If you find a place where you can get 10 to 12 feet or more of depth, this exercise will become outright brutal after a few reps (a "rep" is a full roll downward and the upward roll back to the starting position). It is critical to unroll the cord downward, don't just let the weight fall under gravity and rotate freely in your hands. This will be extremely effective at increasing your grip endurance and strength. It is an absolute must for wrestlers.
High retaining walls will provide a super deep downward roll. Downright sadistic, but super effective!
The next three photos below show the standard overhand "knuckles upward" grip:
See the photos below for an underhand grip: