Ancient Shaolin Secret for Powerful Forearms

February 4, 2018 by VAHVA Fitness

Ancient shaolin secret for strong and mobile wrists and forearms. One of the best remedies for wrist and forearm injuries.

The history of shaolin kung fu goes back thousands of years and even though the modern shaolin kung fu is only a shadow of its former self, shaolin kung fu has lots of legit ways to strengthen the body.

In shaolin kung fu all tools available were used: rice, stones, bags of sand, trees and so on. The early forms of kettlebells (called stonelocks) originated from China. Shaolin monks also used to do early forms of overhead pressing and deadlifts. 

Movement training which we consider amazing for the body, is also hugely influenced by the animal walks and animal forms of kung fu.


Shaolin kung fu practitioners used sandbags as punching bags and for strengthening work just like they are used today. 

For example, here is an early form of the shoulder raise or overhead press done with hanging bags of sand. This is the 37th skill of 72 arts of shaolin.

The purpose here is obviously to strengthen the shoulders. This is called yang, the hard form of training). 

Shaolin monks also used to do very rigorous toughening and strengthening for their body. They took wrist and forearm strength seriously and innovated many different ways to harden the hands and strengthen the forearm muscles.

shaolin wrist roller

The wrist roller which is nowadays widely used as a forearm strengthening equipment originates from shaolin kung fu. It's 71th skill from 72 arts of shaolin. 

The ancient shaolin monks were smart, tough and very creative when it came to creating new ways to strengthen and toughen up the body. 

Nowadays it may not be needed to harden the skin, but many of the strengthening exercises are still valid. 

This article is about the best tool available to strengthen the grip, fingers, wrists and forearms. Here it is:


rice bucket for forearms

Here's what you need:

  • A bucket (cost: $2-5)
  • 5 kilos (11 pounds) of rice. Just get the cheapest rice you can find. Cost: $5-10 

Rice bucket is amazing. It originates from shaolin monks, but it is also used by many modern athletes to rehabilitate and strengthen the hands, wrists and forearms.

For example, many baseball players use the rice bucket to keep their hands strong and safe from injuries. In baseball you will strain the hands and wrists a lot which can produce overuse injuries if you are not careful.

You see, pitching a ball is a very powerful hand and wrist movement. The forearms and hands also need to absorb lots of resistance when you are using a baseball bat.

However, it doesn't matter if you are an athlete or not. The rice bucket will still be useful and work amazingly well.

Bodyweight training and movement training can be hard on your wrists if you aren't fully prepared. Usually the pains and aches disappear on their own, but in some cases persistent injuries can occur.

To combat this, the rice bucket is like a gift from heaven. We have had people with persistent wrist injuries and chronic aches, and the rice bucket has fixed the problems faster than you can imagine. 

Benefits of the rice bucket:

  • Strengthens the wrists, forearms and fingers
  • Better grip strength
  • Less risk for injuries
  • Cures imbalances and aches in the wrists and forearms

There is no other tool that is as versatile as the rice bucket and this versatility is the secret. You will be working all functions of the wrists and strengthening comprehensively all the big and small muscles involved.


shaolin strength shaolin kung fu shaolin grip

Both arms can be utilized although the single arm allows the most space.

Open and close fist

Here you are just opening and closing the fist while your hand is covered in rice. You will be training the hand flexors and extensors. 

You can even squeeze the rice out of your fist after clenching the fist which is very good for grip strength. 

Forearm circles

In the forearm circles you are rotating the hand under the rice. This is very good for the wrist because you will be targeting all articulations of the wrist from ulnar and radial deviations to flexion and extension.

You can learn more about wrist mobilization in this article.

Finger movement

Surprisingly, just moving your fingers under the rice is one of the hardest movements you can do with the rice bucket. This is excellent for finger and forearm strength and mobility.

Rotating and clenching the fist

Here you are rotating the forearm while grabbing rice to your fist and squeezing it out. Rotate to both directions. This will train grip strength but also the supination and pronation of the forearm.

Wrist flexion-extension

You can also do standard wrist flexion and extension where you are just moving the wrist up and down. This is the hardest with an open hand as long as you keep the hand rigid and not loose.

See the video for the correct execution.

By utilizing these techniques with the rice bucket, you can expect a massive pump in the forearms. You should do these hand drills until the muscles have gotten tired. 

How often? Rice bucket isn't something you have to do frequently (wrist/forearm training in general don't need to be done on a weekly basis) but every now and then to strengthen the muscles and to keep them safe.

If you have an injury or aches, then just working on the rice bucket 1-2 times per week until the problem has been resolved will be a very good strategy.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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    • I haven’t tried sand, but rice can already be very hard. The hardest option is almost never the best – the best results are achieved when the difficulty is “hard enough”.

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