Wrist strength is an area of physical fitness that often gets overlooked, but that doesn't mean that it's not important. Whether you want to improve your tennis serve or backhand, you need to know how to strengthen your wrists to make that happen. Below are four excellent exercises that will help you develop stronger wrists.
1. Tennis Ball Squeeze
The tennis ball squeeze is the perfect introductory exercise for people who are looking to strengthen their wrists. Office workers, in particular, can benefit from this exercise, as it will provide a great counterbalance for all of the time they spend keeping their fingers in typing mode, or in a "ready-to-click" mode on the mouse. All you have to do is place a tennis ball in the center of your palm and squeeze it as hard as you can, holding the squeeze for about 5-8 seconds before releasing. Try performing 10 reps with each hand to improve your wrist and grip strength.
2. Wrist Curls
Your forearm muscles play a big part in wrist strength, and this exercise will work both your wrists and forearms to help them become stronger and more stable. Here's how to do it:
- Sit in a chair or on a bench, with your forearms in alignment on top of your thighs.
- With a light weight (e.g., three to five pounds) in each hand and your palms facing the ceiling, slowly lower your hands downward, so that your palms begin to face outward away from you. Be careful not to over-extend your wrists in this position, as that is not necessary in order to engage the appropriate muscles.
- Now slowly bring your wrists back up to their starting position. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.
Be sure to perform the opposite version of this exercise as well, where you start with your palms facing the floor and then lower your hands so that your wrists flex downward. For both versions, be sure to pause for a second at the peak of the movement.
3. Radial Deviation
"Radial deviation" is a fancy medical term that simply means bending your wrist sideways towards your thumb side. To perform this exercise, start with your arms by your sides, holding a hammer in one hand. Now slowly tilt the hammer up, to where the head of the hammer is further towards the ceiling. Take a quick pause at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower the hammer back down to its starting position. If the hammer is a little too light, try using a three to five-pound weight to do the job. Perform three sets of 10 reps for each hand. The important thing to remember is that you need to make slow, smooth and deliberate movements – nothing herky-jerky, as this could cause injury to your wrists.
4. Up-Down Planks
This is a slightly more advanced move, but it recruits several muscles in the wrists and forearms to help you develop greater wrist strength. When you do an up-down plank, you're basically moving from a traditional plank (i.e., push-up position) to an elbow plank (with your elbows on the floor). Here's how to do it:
- Start off in a traditional plank position, which is no different than the starting position for a traditional push-up.
- Starting with your right arm first, lift your hand up off the floor enough to begin lowering your elbow down to the floor. Your elbow should basically rest in the same place that your hand was, and your right forearm should now be flat on the floor as well.
- Do the same thing with your left arm, to where both elbows are on the floor and both forearms are now parallel to each other (i.e., elbow plank position).
- Now, one arm at a time, lift your body back up into the starting position, beginning with the right hand first and then the left hand. Once you've done this, you have officially completed one repetition.
- Try doing this exercise five times starting out with the right elbow, and then five times starting with the left elbow to complete 10 total reps. Not only will you strengthen your wrists with this challenging exercise, but it can also build up your core muscles as well.
No matter which wrist exercises you choose to do, remember to perform slow and deliberate movements and don't take on more weight than you can comfortably handle. The goal is to provide enough resistance to strengthen your wrists while avoiding injury. Here's to stronger, healthier wrists!