Rice Bucket Workout: Forearm and Grip For Ultimate

I play Ultimate1. While throwing and catching are an integral part of the game, I don’t see most players work on strengthening their grip or forearms to make their catches and throws better. At some point I randomly saw an article for baseball pitchers to strengthen their grip and thought that this could be useful to Ultimate players. So, I bought a five gallon bucket and filled it with rice and tried it.

While doing the workouts, I can definitely feel that my forearms and hands get tired. Within a few days, I feel that I can make more difficult catches, have better hand and forearm agility, and get a tighter grip on the disc for hucks (long throws, in Ultimate parlance.) I try to be more careful to be gentle while typing, since my forearms feel slightly inflamed and I don’t want to have any carpal tunnel issues.

Here is the workout I follow, which usually takes less than ten minutes. I definitely recommend watching the video from the link above, since it explains most of the setup and exercises. I took out some things from the workout that related specifically to pitching, and added a few things that might help with Ultimate-specific movements. I usually only do ten to twenty repetitions of each exercise. You will be sore for a day or so after doing it, at least the first few times. Don’t overdo it!

With Left And Right Hands, Individually

Grab the rice at the top of the bucket: I treat this like a warm-up. Just grab the rice at the top of the bucket and pull it up and release it.

Grab the rice at the bottom of the bucket: Dig a bit deeper when grabbing the rice and pull it up like above.

Grab the rice like your hand is a crab pincher: This is a good workout for the hands, and mimics the hand mechanics of one-handed grabs.

Use only the thumb movement in the crab pincher: This is a good workout for the thumb muscles. Your video game controller skills will be on point after doing this.

With a fist go in circles both ways in the rice: This definitely gives the forearms a workout, since the hands are not active.

With a fist go side to side in the rice: Some more forearm workout.

With a fist go up and down in the rice: This does not refer to pulling the rice up and down, but rotating the fist up and down.

Pretend you are throwing a backhand, in the rice: This is a new one. Works the wrist muscles that you would use for throwing. Be sure to use both hands to strengthen both and to work on your non-dominant hand strength.

Pretend you are throwing a forehand, in the rice: This is a new one. Similarly, this strengthens your forehand throwing muscles (outside of the wrist) and whichever fingers you use for throwing forehands.

Pretend you are throwing a hammer/scoober, in the rice: This is a new one. This works on your outside wrist muscles and finger muscles at a different angle.

Handshake while in the rice bucket: Works the top and bottom of the wrist.

Grab the rice as hard as you can: This really works the hand strength and overall forearm strength.

Pinch the rice as hard as you can: Again, this works those hand muscles for pinch grabs.

Flick your fingers outward while totally submerged in rice: This is surprisingly hard. I’m not sure what Ultimate exercise this mimics, but it’s probably good to have balance.

With Both Hands Simultaneously

Simulate pinch grab with fingers on top, into the rice: This is a new one. This exercise works on syncing up the hands for catching, while also working on strength. Pretend you are grabbing a disc that is in front of you for a few, and then one that is above your head if you can get the angle correct.

Simulate pinch grab with fingers on bottom: Another simulation (grab at knees)


Forearm curls with rice bucket: Take the bucket at your side and do some forearm curls.

Shoulder shrugs with the bucket: Similarly, grabbing the bucket and doing shoulder shrugs on each side works to strengthen your shoulder muscles (so you don’t get tired lugging your stuff around at tournaments.)

  1. Ultimate Frisbee, if you must, since Ultimate is the hardest term to search for of all time. 

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