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10 Of The Best Wrist Strengthening Exercises

Whether you’re trying to grow your glutes or build your biceps, many gym goers dedicate their training to increasing the strength of major muscle groups. One area that is often forgotten about are the muscles that control your wrists.

In this blog, we look at why and how to increase wrist strength, including the best wrist strength exercises to do.

Why Is Wrist Strength Important?

Wrist strength isn't something you think about, but having strong and mobile wrists can help in everyday life and in the gym.

Some of the benefits of building your wrist strength and mobility include:

  • Helps to reduce injuries and pain. From typing a text, to cooking, to bringing the shopping in, our wrists are involved in almost every daily activity. Weak and stiff wrists are much more prone to repetitive injuries and strains caused through day to day life, as well as overuse injuries from upper body exercises.

  • Increases grip strength. Strengthening the muscles that control the wrists also help to increase grip strength. Poor grip strength is correlated with poor health, more risk of injury, and an inability to perform daily tasks.

  • Stabilises the arms. Strong wrists can make a big difference to how arm movements feel. When you have strong wrists, pushing and pulling movements feel easier and are less likely to cause injury.

  • Increased range of motion. If you find wrist extension (the wrist position in exercises like push ups and downward dog) painful, you likely have limited range of motion in your wrists. Strengthening the wrists can increase your wrist mobility and improve this range.

  • Healthy wrist joints. Having a wide range of motion is key to keeping joints healthy as it stimulates the production of synovial fluid, a liquid that lubricates the joints and reduces friction between joint cartilage.

  • Increases gym strength. Stronger and more stable wrists can translate to more powerful lifts, particularly in exercises like pull ups and lat pulldowns, push ups, and deadlifts. It will also help with alternative forms of exercise like yoga, calisthenics, and climbing, as well as sports like badminton and tennis.

Wrist Strength vs Wrist Size

If you've ever worked on building muscle mass, you'll know that bigger muscles typically have more strength. When it comes to wrists, bigger wrists do not necessarily mean stronger wrists, and smaller wrists do not necessarily mean weaker wrists.

The size of your wrist is largely determined by bone structure, with tendons and ligaments also playing a small part. The muscles that are targeted in wrist exercises for strength are the muscles in the forearms and fingers, not the wrists themselves. Strengthening the forearms may help to give the appearance of bigger forearms, but most people are unlikely to see significant changes in the size of the wrists themselves.

How To Improve Wrist Strength

To build stronger wrists, aim to incorporate 2-3 wrist strengthening exercises and 1-2 wrist stretches on 2-4 days a week. You can add these to your existing workouts or perform them as standalone mini workouts.

While certain compound exercises, like deadlifts or push ups, will help to improve wrist strength, it's important to perform wrist specific exercises that strengthen the wrists in multiple movement patterns including extension, flexion, adduction, and abduction. This is the best way to ensure you have strong and mobile wrists that are protected against injuries.

Stretching the wrists is also important as this helps to increase the range of motion, which allows the muscles and tendons to be strengthened across a greater range, leading to stronger and more stable wrists overall.

Wrist Strengthening Exercises

These exercises will help to build strength in the hands and forearms for stronger wrists.

  1. Finger flicks

    Also known as wrist flicks, this exercise strengthens the muscles that flex and extends the fingers. It is also a great way to warm up the wrists before other exercises.

    • Extend your arms out in front of you and squeeze both hands into tight fists.
    • Quickly flick all 10 fingers out as wide and straight as possible.
    • Repeat this squeeze and flick for 10-30 seconds.
  2. Finger slides

    Finger slides help to improve range of motion and are another great way to warm up the hands and wrists.

    • Hold one arm out in front and flex the wrist so that your palm is facing forward.
    • Without making a fist, slowly slide the fingertips towards the base of your fingers and then down to the bottom of your palm.
    • Reverse the movement, making sure to articulate the fingers uncurling.
    • Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
  3. Dumbbell wrist extension

    If you don't have a dumbbell, wrist extension exercises can be performed holding a light household item or with a resistance band.

    • Holding a light dumbbell in your hand, rest the forearm on a table, bench, or chair so that your wrist and hand are off the edge with your palm facing down.
    • Keeping your forearm still, lift the dumbbell up by curling your hand up and back towards your arm until the wrist is fully extended.
    • Pause for a second before slowly lowering the dumbbell back to the start.
    • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side.
  4. Dumbbell wrist flexion

    Wrist flexion exercises can also be performed with resistance bands or alternative weights.

    • Holding a light dumbbell in your hand, rest the back of your forearm on a table, bench, or chair so that your wrist and hand are off the edge with your palm facing the ceiling.
    • Keeping your arm stable, curl the dumbbell up towards your wrist as far as you can.
    • Pause before slowly lowering back to the start.
    • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side.
  5. Dumbbell wrist pronation to supination

    For this exercise, it's important that the movement comes from below the elbow and not from the shoulder. You can try without weights first to get the technique right.

    • Holding a light dumbbell in your hand, rest your forearm on a table, bench, or chair so that your wrist and hand are off the edge with your palm facing the floor.
    • Keeping your upper body still, slowly turn the hand until your palm faces the ceiling.
    • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side.
  6. Dumbbell wrist radial to ulner deviation

    For this exercise, only move as far as you can while keeping your forearm on the support. You might want to practice without weights first.

    • Holding a light dumbbell in your hand, place the side of your forearm on a table, bench, or chair in a neutral position, so that your palm faces towards the midline of your body.
    • Keeping your arm flat, lift your hand up and back towards your arm so that it tilts towards the ceiling.
    • Pause and then reverse the movement, moving past the starting position and tilting your hand towards the floor.
    • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps on each side.
  7. Finger push ups

    This exercise is great for building strength in the hands and wrists. If you find it too challenging, place your hands further in front of your shoulders so that there is less weight on the wrists.

    • Start on all fours in tabletop position with knees under hips and wrists under shoulders.
    • Push up through your fingers to lift your palms off the floor.
    • Lower back down ensuring both hands land flat at the same time.
    • Repeat for 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps.

Wrist Stretching Exercises

These exercises will help to improve your wrist flexibility. They're great to do after wrist strengthening exercises, or as light stretches throughout the day if you spend a lot of time typing.

  1. Tabletop wrist stretch

    This wrist stretch can be made more challenging by positioning your hands with fingers facing back towards your legs. It can also be performed as a dynamic stretch or wrist warm up by performing circles around the wrist.

    • Start in tabletop on all fours with your fingers facing forwards. Push through your hands to dome the upper back.
    • Gently lean forward while keeping the base of your palms on the floor.
    • Hold this position for 10-30 seconds, or rock back and forth between neutral and stretched. Repeat 2-3 times.
  2. Prayer stretch

    This is a nice gentle stretch that can be done at your desk, or as part of a wrist workout.

    • Place your fingers and palms together, with fingertips just below your chin. Roll your shoulders back.
    • Keeping the palms flat together, slowly lower both hands down until you feel a light stretch in your forearms.
    • Hold for 10-30 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times.
  3. Wrist rotations

    This exercise stretches the wrist and can improve flexion and extension.

    • Extend one arm out in front of you and point your fingers down towards the floor until you feel a stretch in the top of the wrist.
    • Use your other hand to gently pull the fingers towards the body.
    • Hold for 10 seconds then release.
    • Keeping your arm still, raise your fingers so they point towards the ceiling and you feel a stretch under the wrist.
    • Use the other hand to gently pull the fingers back towards the body.
    • Hold for 10 seconds.
    • Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

You should start to see an improvement in wrist strength and mobility within a couple of weeks of adding these exercises into your weekly routine. You can also find more wrist and grip strengthening exercise ideas here.

For more fitness advice, check out our fitness hub here. Looking to start your fitness journey with PureGym? Find your nearest gym here.

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