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This Climber Did Wrist Rolls for 30 Days to Try and Improve His Grip Strength

Men's Health logo Men's Health 1/24/2021 Philip Ellis
a man in a blue shirt: YouTube's Geek Climber did wrist roller exercises for a month to try and build his grip and forearm strength through antagonistic muscle training. © Geek Climber - YouTube YouTube's Geek Climber did wrist roller exercises for a month to try and build his grip and forearm strength through antagonistic muscle training.

In the latest video chronicling his training, YouTube's Geek Climber spent 30 days working on his grip strength by doing the wrist roller, an antagonistic muscle training exercise which develops the often under-trained wrist extensors and flexors, and which involves rotating the pole in your hands to wind a weight (which has been attached by a rope or cord) upwards, then downwards.

He started out on Day 1 with 10 pounds before maxing out at 15. "When I woke up the next day, my entire upper body was very sore," he says. "This was pretty shocking to me... It feels like wrist rolling activates some parts of my muscles that have never been activated before."

He consulted with fellow vlogger Jason Hooper, a doctor of physical therapy, on the correct form. Hooper recommends performing this move with the wrists in a pronated position, with the arms at a 90-degree angle by your side: too often, people will attempt this move with their arms fully extended out in front of them, which leads to shoulder fatigue. Hooper also stresses that the eccentric second half of the wrist roller, which involves lowering the weight back down, is the most difficult but also where the most benefits of this exercise lie.

Following his conversation with Hooper, he started doing 3 sets of 1 full rep at 10 pounds, performed twice a week. He soon found that his muscles began to feel less sore as his body adapted to the new exercise routine, and so he gradually increased the weight throughout the 30 days.

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After just one month of twice weekly wrist roller workouts, he was able to significantly increase his grip strength, with his single-rep max rising from 15 pounds to 25 pounds — although he remains uncertain how much of an effect this will have on his climbing.

"The improvement is most likely improving from V7.3 to V7.5, the kind of improvement you can't see for sure," he says. "In any case, I feel like I improved."

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