When you think about brute strength and overall force, the first thing that may not come to mind is the overall strength within your wrists. Believe it or not, the strength of your wrists plays a major role in stabilizing your arms during movements such as the bench press, deadlift and overhead presses. Get your grip strength up and improve the health of your wrists while doing so.
Benefits of Strong Wrists
The benefits of having strong wrists are pretty self-explanatory in that it helps in all areas of lifting weights. Whether it be putting up some big time numbers in the bench press or pounding out lots of reps on deadlifts, wrist strength comes into play. Wrist and grip strength go hand in hand on both strength based lifts (reps in 1-5 range) as well as in the higher hypertrophy (6-12) and endurance (12+) reps to ensure the weight is moved properly with the muscles being worked rather than placing too much stress on the actual joint. Ensuring that your wrist strength is on point also allows you to move the weight with more direct force. For example, on the bench press your hands are placed around the bar with your arms extended out in front of your body. Keeping your wrists flexed and cocked provides optimal strength and the path of least resistance vs. having your wrists bent. Having the slightest bend will affect the amount of weight you’re able to move as well as placing unneeded stress on the wrist joint.
Stretches to Improve Mobility/Stability
One of the best way to insure your strength in the wrists are top notch is to make sure they are able to achieve proper range of motion as well as maintaining good stability while doing so. Stretches that improve flexibility include pointing the palm down and pulling back slightly on the top of hand/fingers. This stretches to the top of the wrist and into the upper part of the forearm. To stretch the underside, flip the movement and pull the fingers and palm up for a deep stretch underneath and into where the tricep attaches into the elbow joint. To work on more stability use exercises like push-ups for example. Vary the form by starting with some fingertip pushes (these are killer!), do some wide grip, hands pointing different directions to really feel different muscle being worked but also keeping the wrists working hard to stabilize.
Exercise to Improve Strength
Follow these exercises to up your grip game and turn those puny wrists into some tree trunks to support some heavy weights!
#1: Farmers Carry
This exercise is pretty self-explanatory: pick up some heavy dumbbells and move them. If you want and even harder challenge on the wrists, use a barbell with weight loaded on each side. This will force you to use the tiny muscles within the wrist and forearm to help keep the weight still. Many will want to use straps for this but DO NOT do it- this takes away from the grip strength of the whole exercise!
#2: Wrist Curls
- Take a barbell and grip it from behind your back.
- Curl the weight up to the top just using your wrist as the only movement.
- Do a bunch since the weight won’t be very heavy and feel the burn! [/su_list]
#3: Sand Squeezes
An all-time favorite of many high school and collegiate coaches is sand grabbing. This not only helps strengthen the wrist but also improves grip tremendously (helps with gripping football, palming basketball, etc). The set-up is simple yet effective:
- Take a bag of sand and pour it in a shallow and wide bucket.
- Have the athlete/individual begin squeezing the sand in different amounts for a timed sequence with both hands
- Rest 30 seconds and repeat for a couple of sets
Though you may wear the same size watch as your girlfriend, that’s no excuse to just throw in the towel and give up. Suck it up, and get your wrist strength up to par through stretching, stabilizing and strengthening!