While it may be hard to imagine when you’ve spent months and years working toward big bulky muscles, that the key to continued growth is all in the wrist.
The little joints, tendons, and muscles that surround this area make a huge contribution to your health and fitness growth. Building up the muscles and strength in your wrist will help you grow and gain!
But it can be hard to build up wrist strength with traditional exercises and hard to do traditional exercises without an increase in wrist strength.
By taking time to focus on this area, you’ll start to see increased improvement in no time!
The Importance of Strengthening Your Wrist
Wrist strength goes beyond simply lifting weights or meeting your fitness goals. Having strong wrists and continuing to increase that strength gives you more confidence in everyday life.
If you struggle with carpal tunnel or any other issue with your hands and wrist, you’ll want to start a routine of stretching and strengthening them as much as possible.
While you may want to strengthen your wrists for better use in workouts, boxing, or other high-intensity physical activity, there’s a lot of benefits to working on wrist strength even if you just type at a computer.
Wrist pain is very common with anyone typing at a computer all day and by taking the time to stretch and strengthen your wrists you’ll get rid of this pain and possibly stave off carpal tunnel!
Strengthening your wrists is crucial for more extreme sports like boxing or fighting.
The brunt of each punch is felt through your wrist and up to your elbow and shoulder. Having strong arms doesn’t mean much if your wrist won’t stand up to a swing.
If you’ve dealt with an injury to the arm or wrist before, you’ll need to work on improving that strength and grip again. This will take a lot of time and you won’t see progress overnight. But with little improvements and changes, you’ll soon be back to normal.
Many want to continually work out and the strain that lifting weights or bodyweight exercises puts on your wrist is extreme. To continue doing these exercises without pause or hesitation, strong wrists are required.
Of all the things you thought you’d need when it came down to working out, you probably didn’t give much thought to your wrists!
More extreme sports like rock or mountain climbing require your wrists to be at peak health and strength.
Your grip is controlled by your wrist and if you’re not able to keep a secure grip, you may end up in a very dangerous situation. Building up those small muscles and getting the joint working properly can be the difference between a successful and terrible climbing session.
Whether you’re heading out on the mountain or you’ve got a long day typing at your computer in front of you, you’ll benefit from building up your wrist strength!
A Little Wrist TLC: Conditions that Require Wrist Strengthening Exercises
Several different conditions require a little tender loving care for your wrists. By taking just a little bit of time to focus on this small joint system, you’ll see the benefits for years to come.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This is a common issue for nearly anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time typing, working out, or just using their hands.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is when a nerve is compressed within your wrist and it can cause tingling, numbness, weakness in your hands, or even a shock-like feeling that goes up into your fingers.
Building up your wrist strength for this condition can help relieve some of the tension on the nerve and get your feeling back more quickly.
This is a much more serious injury that involves the fracturing of the radial bone and the displacement of the wrist upward. While often known as a broken wrist, it doesn’t involve the carpal bones of the wrist.
After an injury like this, recovery may take some time and even involve surgery. Since the entire area is immobilized by the fracture, you’ll need to build up your wrist strength afterward to maintain a normal life.
The humerus runs from your shoulder down to your elbow and a fracture here can keep your entire arm in a cast for several weeks if not months.
Once you’ve had significant time to recover and heal, you’ll need to build up the lost muscles and control that you once had in your hands and wrists.
While this injury is common to boxers and fighters, it can happen to anyone especially if you happen to stop a fall with your hands or make contact with a hard surface unexpectedly.
A boxer’s fracture is a break in the bones of the hand specifically a fracture in the pinky bone. After healing, you’ll need to take time to build up your wrist strength sufficiently before attempting exercise or typical activity again.
This occurs when you fall on a flexed wrist and is a break that often happens in elderly people who might fall more frequently.
Again, once an injury has healed, you’ll have lost some functionality in the entire hand and wrist and will need to build it back up again.
While you’re working out your biceps, throwing in a good wrist workout is a great way to keep your entire body healthy and fit. Several simple exercises will build up your wrist strength in no time and you’ll soon be back and fighting fit again!
This is a simple exercise that you can do with no weights or lightweight! You can also choose to do both arms at the same time or just do one at a time to make it simpler for you.
If you don’t have dumbbells or a specific weight set at home you can introduce a small can of food or even a water bottle to act as weight and resistance.
Start this move by sitting with your arm resting on your knees and hold the weight in your palm facing down and your wrist hanging over your knee. Move your hand up and down as far as possible in each direction while maintaining control each way.
Go through a set of 10 with a short break then repeat it with your palms facing up. After you can easily complete 2 or 3 sets, increase the weight to give you more resistance.
Wrist Supination With Weights
This is a move that’s going to help increase your wrist strength by also increasing the strength in your biceps and forearm muscles.
Supination is the act of turning your wrist over so that your palm is face-up when you’re looking down at it.
To begin, sit in a chair with your forearm extended on a table or flat hard surface. Keep your wrist and hand over the edge of the table. Get a small weight, usually 1-3 pounds, and put it in your hand with one end in your palm much like you’d hold a hammer.
Let your wrist and hand rotate over so your palm is face up towards the ceiling. Hold this position for a few seconds then rotate it back so your dumbbell is upright again.
If you want you can let your hand and wrist rotate back so that it’s facing down also called pronation and hold it for a second or two before returning to the starting point. You’ll want to consistently do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps for this move each week.
Wrist Extension with Weights
This is another simple move that will have you using light weights for the majority of the time. If the weights are too much at even 1-3 pounds you can swap it out for a small can or other lighter object to get started.
Begin this move by sitting in a chair with your forearm resting on a table and your wrist and hand over the edge.
Take your weight whether it’s the 1-3 pound dumbbell or another weight and lift your hand so the back moves toward the ceiling. Keep your forearm on the table during this time.
After you have your wrist extended keep this position held for a few seconds before lowering your hand back down. This is a great move to repeat for a few sets of 10-15 reps each week!
Wrist Pronation with Weights
This can be a bit trickier of a position and move but once you’ve gotten the hang of it you’ll be able to do it with ease and even increase the weight.
These moves are simple and can even be completed at your desk, kitchen table, or anywhere that you’ve got a hard flat surface with a bit of room!
Start again in a chair with your forearm on the table and wrist and hand over the edge.
Grasp the end of the dumbbell and keep the weight pointing upright toward the ceiling. Slowly and in control rotate your hand so that your wrist and palm are facing down toward the floor. Hold onto this position for a few seconds before rotating back to the starting position.
You can then rotate into the supination position and have your palm facing up. Then after holding this ending position for a few seconds, rotate back to the starting point. You’ll go through 2 or three sets of 10-15 reps for this move each week.
Weighted Wrist Flexion
This is a great move to follow your wrist extensions so you can make a smooth transition from one move to another. Since you’ve got your dumbbells or weights out and you’re busy working out, just keep the process moving!
Continue after your wrist extensions with your forearm resting on the table. Turn your hand so that your palm is up toward the ceiling. Keep your forearm against the table and then flex your wrist so your palm goes toward the ceiling.
After your wrist is fully flexed, hold this for a few seconds before returning your hand and wrist to the starting position.
Just like the other moves in this series, you’ll do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps for this move before continuing to the next hand or exercise.
These can all easily be done in a circuit with just a few seconds of rest between each one.
Working with weights will help you gain some strength especially in your wrist and forearm but being able to flex and turn is equally important.
Doing some simple wrist stretches at your desk or throughout the day can help you increase not just strength but flexibility. It will also help loosen up your hands and wrists after completing repetitive tasks like typing or writing.
The great thing about wrist stretches is that they don’t take up much room and can easily be done without any equipment!
So if you’re experiencing pain or stiffness at your desk, you won’t have to pull out your dumbbells or yoga mat to complete some simple stretches and get your hands and wrist feeling better.
But you must know how to do even these simple stretches. Poor form can lead to injuries or aggravate old injuries fast. Know the correct form and strive to practice it as much as possible throughout each move.
You’ll catch on quickly and be able to keep your hands and wrists limber even after a long day at your desk.
Extended Arm Stretch
Start this simple stretch with your arm extended in front of you with your palm facing up. You’ll take your off-hand or freehand and press the fingers of the hand you’re stretching down toward the floor.
With great care, pull your fingers back toward your body and hold this position for 10-30 seconds then repeat on the other arm.
You’ll be able to easily go through this stretch a couple of times with each arm! If you’ve had a previous injury be cautious doing this stretch.
Surgery on your hands or wrist can cause scar tissue to build up and pulling too hard can cause tears. Take it slow and let your body adjust to the move before applying more pressure!
Praying Hands Stretch
This move will stretch both hands and wrists at once! You’ll need to get up and get standing to complete this move though.
Once you’re standing, put your hands together in a praying position and let your elbows touch. Before you start any stretching your hands will be touching each other from the fingertips to the elbows.
Now that you’re in position, start moving your elbows away from each other and putting pressure on your fingers as they touch. As you push outward, lower your hands toward your bellybutton or waist. Hold this stretch position for 10-30 seconds then repeat.
Next, you’ll extend an arm out in front of you at shoulder height. With your palm facing downward and your fingers limp and pointing toward the ground, reach out with your off-hand and grasp your fingers pulling them back toward your body to stretch the back of your wrist.
This is not a self-defense move although it does sound like one! Believe it or not, the clenched fist is a great way to stretch your wrists and hands thoroughly.
If you’ve just completed the praying hands stretch, you’ll need to take a seat for this move. Once you’re seated put your open hands on your thighs with your palms facing upward. Slowly close your hands into fists but don’t clench them too tightly.
Keep your forearms on your legs and raise your fists off them and toward your body being sure to bend them at the wrist.
Hold this move for 10 seconds or so before lowering your fist and opening your fingers wide. You’ll end up repeating this move about 10 times before the set is over.
This is a great move to do at your desk when you’re feeling the tension in your wrists and hands! All of the stretches are low-key and discreet so you won’t need to roll out the yoga mat to feel better at home or work!
Kettlebell 10 Weeks Program
This program contains our famous Kettlebell 1.0 and 2.0 programs. It will take you on a journey from beginner to intermediate or advanced in a period of 10 weeks, using only one or two kettlebells.
- Skill level: Beginner and Intermediate
- Format: PDF
- 10-week program: 3 workouts each week for the first 4 weeks, then 4 workouts each week for the last 6 weeks
- Workouts vary in length from 25-60 minutes
- Requires at least one kettlebell in the range of 15lb to 25lb. It can be helpful to have two kettlebells, one lighter and one heavier for different exercises. A yoga or exercise mat is also recommended
- Free Bonus: Intro to Nutrition and Healthy Eating
- Links to video explanations for individual exercises.
- Mobile and Desktop versions available
- Printable PDF workout calendar
Wrist strength and flexibility are key for every individual’s health and fitness!
Whether you’re a prize boxer or you’ve just spent most of your career at a computer, keeping your wrists and hands in good health is essential.
But working them out and keeping them limber can be a challenge. After all, the gym doesn’t have a wrist lifting machine. There are some simple exercises and stretches that will have you fighting fit and limber even after a long day typing and playing video games.
These stretches and moves are simple and discreet so you can complete them at home, the gym, or even at your desk throughout the day.
Don’t neglect your wrist and hand health! This joint is key to weight lifting, normal work, and so much more.
Keeping them healthy will help you reach your fitness goals and keep working long after others have been retired due to injury or surgery. Simply incorporate a few exercises into your daily routine and you’ll see the benefits in no time!
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost