Wrist Strengthening Exercises

Published by Jason Narog on

Wrist Strengthening

Wrist strengthening exercises are important for everyone – the office worker who games, the weekend warrior obstacle course racer, the grappler, the thai fighter. The boulder-er / mountain climber. You need your wrists and fingers for changing the channels, playing video games, and grabbing things. So let’s toughen those suckers up.

First we’ll address exercises for wrist pain. As always, if you feel any pain stop and talk with your physician.

Fix Wrist Pain and Carpal Tunnel with these Exercises

You can do these while sitting at your desk at work! 10 repetitions per exercise or holds for maybe 10 seconds. You’ll want to maintain good posture here (proud chest, shoulders down and back.)

  1. Sitting in a chair extend your arms out away from your body palms down. Slowly pull your wrists back towards you (so your hands will be up like your about to high five someone.) Then lower your wrists back down.
  2. With your arms still extended, make a fist and rotate your wrists in circles. You’re going to go clockwise first then counter-clockwise.
  3. Shake your hands and wrists out
  4. Bring your hands in front of you to prayer position (put your hands together, elbows bent.) Push your arms from left to right. Make sure you’re sitting up straight.
  5. Still in prayer position, tilt your wrists from left to right, kinda like you’re trying to win an arm wrestling contest
  6. Continuing in prayer position, push your arm out to the left, tilt your right wrist to the left (forcing the left down slightly), return hands to upright, move back to the middle of your body, and go other side.
  7. Remaining in prayer position, move your hands from center up over your head and bring your hands (still connected in prayer) behind your head as though you’re doing an overhead tricep extension. Move back to starting position and repeat.
  8. Extend your arms away from your body (into a T position) with palms up towards the ceiling. Bend at the wrist pointing your fingertips towards the floor. Bring your fingers back up, make fists, bend at the elbows and muscle man flex pose. Slowly return through the motion, rinse, and repeat.
  9. Slowly raise them up in front of you, palms towards the ceiling. Take your right hand and slowly press back on the finger tips of the left hand. Hold for about 10 seconds then repeat on the other side.
  10. Same position, this time palms towards the floor. Use your right hand to push the fingers on your left hand down towards the ground. Hold, then repeat on the other side.
  11. Bring your hands in front of you and clasp your hands together. Circle the hands clockwise then counter clockwise.
  12. This will vary depending on your chair setup. You may want to stand up and use your desk. Place your hands behind your back on either the chair or the desk with your fingers pointed away from you. Gently bend the elbows and slightly putting pressure on your wrists.

3 Unique Exercises for Wrist Pain

These are more for wrist extensions (wrist pointed towards top of forearm, like in push up position), which may happen while learning the Turkish Get Up and not maintaining a neutral wrist. These are also good for the typing crowd.

These are dynamic as opposed to static stretches. You’ll want to move into the stretch, release, move back into the stretch, release.

  1. Wrist Extension Mobilizations – 10 reps. On your knees, place one hand flat on the ground. Make sure your entire hand is in contact with the ground and your elbow is pointed towards your body. If you don’t know if your elbow is pointed towards your body you can spin through the arm (in some circles they call this “corkscrewing” the arm.) Place your other hand on top of your hand that’s on the ground slightly below the point where your wrist is bent at. Slowly rock towards your arms.
  2. Wrist Flexion Mobilizations – 10 reps. Still on your knees, move your arm behind your knee and place the wrist palm towards the ceiling (the typical way you’ll see this is in front of you, but that ignores the corkscrew principle being taught in the extension stretch. You want to corkscrew here again) Slightly rock backwards until you feel the stretch.
  3. Wrist Flexion and Shoulder Rotation – this is for time (30 to 60 seconds) versus the dynamic of above. Extend the arm away from the body, and point the fingers down towards the ground. Rotate at the shoulder (corkscrew) to point the fingers behind you.

Hand, Wrist, and Forearm Strengthening Exercises

Here’s 7 tips from an orthopedic surgeon – Dr Levi. This will help you avoid the look of giant arms, small forearms (like chicken leg syndrome.)


Warm Ups – Do each for 30 seconds, and do 2 sets total (1 minute per exercise.)

  • Place your arms out in front of you and make fists then release.
    • Spread your fingers apart and bring them back together.
  • Arms out in front, flex your wrists down (fingers to the ground) then return to center.
  • Arms still out in front, flex your wrists up (fingers towards the sky) then return to center

Weighted Exercises

Do these with an appropriate weight for your current strength level. 3 sets of 20 at least 3 times a week.

  • Sitting on a weight bench, rest your forearm on your leg, with the wrist off your leg. Hold a dumbbell in hammer curl position (the weights will be above and below your hand, if you were to put your thumb up it would be pointed towards the ceiling.) Tilt your wrist down then up.
  • Remaining seated in the same position, rotate your wrist so your palm would now be pointed towards the sky if it were open with the weights on either side of your hand. Lower and raise your wrist.
  • Palm towards the ground – drop and raise your wrist. Movement is all in the wrist, watch for elbow raise compensations to see if you need to drop weight.
  • Finger curls – your palm will be pointed to the sky again. Instead of tightly gripping the dumbbell, let the weight roll to your finger tips, then use your fingers to bring it back up.

If you like gadgets, I’ve got 2 gadgets that’ll help you with most of this list.

For making fists and extending your finger tips out – hand grip ball squeezer

For wrist flexion and extension strengthening (this is a useful tool to prevent any sort of upper arm activation. The tool literally ends on your forearm so you cannot cheat the movement like you could with a dumbbell) – forearm strengthener

I had these on my desk to use throughout the day. The grip ball also works in a similar manner to those squeeze stress release balls so you get less sideways looks from coworkers.

The 10 Best Wrist Strengthening Exercises

We’re back to Bob & Brad. They’re doing a DIY MacGyver video, which makes me excited. I’m not entirely clear how they counted 10 here, it would appear the variations count as additional exercises, when it’s truly just variations of the same movement patterns.

  • Lowering and raising the wrist with a weight (or finger curls) from Dr. Levi above. Bob & Brad place the forearm on a table instead of the leg to make sure the wrist is being isolated. They’re suggestion is 10 to 15 reps. DIY Variation – A can of soup
  • Flip the arm over (palm down.) Wrist up and down [Dr. Levi also suggested this.]
  • With the thumb up variation as well.
    • Resistance band variation – Loop the resistance band around your opposite foot (opposite being the side not about to perform the exercise), stand on the band with the foot on the side about to perform the exercise. If the resistance is too easy, you both handles or use a stronger band. [there’s a variation for golfer’s in particular around the 5:30 mark]
  • DIY Wrist Roller – this is for people who work with their grip all day. Milk jug (use water for weight) tied to a string to a 1 to 2 inch PVC pipe. You want to drill a hole in the center of the PVC pipe, run the string through the hole then tie a knot on the string so the string can’t come out of the hole in the PVC pipe. Spin the PVC pipe to move the water jug both up and down from the ground. Keep your elbows tucked close to the body to prevent cheating. If you don’t want to buy one Titan Fitness has a wrist roller already built. The pre-built will let you increase the weight with added accessories as you get stronger.
  • DIY Forearm strengthening – grab a hammer (or something that is unbalanced on one side, like a hammer.) You’ll want your hand so your thumb would be facing the ceiling if you pointed it up. Rotate so your palm would be facing the ceiling and facing the ground. Moving your grip close to the hammer’s head will lighten the weight, moving your grip further down the handle (or poll) will increase the weight [science.] Holding at the end range will also give you a stretch. You can do number 3 with the hammer as well. Need more weight? Get a bigger hammer.

My Additional Wrist and Forearm Strengthening Tips

Pretty much anything involving a Bulgarian Bag. The warm up alone of swinging the bag from side to side is going to work grip and forearm.

The Kettlebell Bottom’s Up anything. You would start with a hold, then move into walking. You could do get ups, squats, and presses with the bell bottom’s up as well, just be very, very careful as that would be advanced and you’d want to know how to bail out of the way of the heavy bell if something goes wrong.

Join our 14 day fitness challenge to work with like-minded energetic enthusiasts to stay accountable to your fitness goals!