When was the last time you thought about wrist strength?
Usually, people only think about wrist strength when they notice some pain in their wrists during a workout, after playing sports like baseball, or even simply hitting the heavy bag at the gym.
The unfortunate thing is that once you develop wrist pain, you are thinking about it too late.
Not that it can’t be resolved…but it’s bound to set your training back a few weeks. Nobody wants that.
The question then becomes, once you are healed, will you forget about your wrists or will you start working on developing wrist strength?
Whether you have wrist pain or your wrists are fine, we urge you to start thinking about your wrists like you would other major muscles and joints, and stay ahead of injuries and pain - It’s called prehabilitation.
This article will cover the importance of wrist strength and mobility. We will also tell you about our favorite equipment for developing wrist strength and mobility, and show you 17 exercises and a workout to bulletproof your wrists.
Having strong wrists is essential for injury prevention. Strong wrists that have good mobility is especially important for athletes like powerlifters, boxers, MMA fighters and baseball players.
Upper-body exercises start at the wrists, moving up to the elbows and then the shoulders. When we lack strength and stability in our wrists, we will make up for it in the elbows and shoulders.
This means that we will compensate and try to make up for our weak wrists, putting more pressure and tension on our shoulders and elbows. This can lead to injuries across all three joints.
The same goes for shoulder and elbow mobility and strength. If you lack either, you will force your other joints to make up for it. This is no good.
So, when addressing the wrists, you must also consider both your elbows and your shoulders.
The focus of this post is on the wrists, but this is something you should always keep in mind. All three joints are equally important.
Wrists are incredibly complex joints with many bones, ligaments, connective tissue, nerves…and, some muscle.
Your wrists are capable of a wider range of motion than most other joints in your body, as they have multiple ranges of motions.
Here are the four types of movements that our wrists are capable of:
When comparing this to your knee joint, you realize just how mobile your wrist joint is, as the knees only have flexion and extension movement.
You use your wrists and forearm muscles for so many things on a daily basis, like picking up objects, holding onto something, shaking hands, and of course, exercising and playing sports. It’s super important that your wrists are strong to prevent injuries and to be able to maximize your upper-body strength so you can become more powerful and induce better hypertrophy.
People who play sports where there is high-impact on their wrist, elbow and shoulder joints need to be extra careful and work on wrists strength and mobility. This means boxers, powerlifters (think about doing a ‘clean’), baseball players, golfers, and so on.
The strength of your forearm is a huge factor when it comes to the overall functional strength of the upper body. It plays a big role for your wrists, elbows, and shoulders. It’s a support muscle for your rotator cuff and reduces the chance of injuries that may occur in your wrists and up through your arm during sports and weight training - i.e.: hitting the bag, bench press, curls, overhead DB press, deadlifts, and any other lift that puts pressure on your hands and wrists.
So, increasing the strength of your forearm AND your wrist will allow you to work harder, move better and avoid common injuries of the joints in your arm.
Here is a quick list of the benefits that come with having bulletproof, iron-hard wrists:
Not only do people who play sports where there’s a high impact and force on the wrists and people who lift weights need strong wrists, but they are also important for anyone and everyone, because daily life requires the use of those puppies every single day. Plus, you never know when you will need your wrists to be strong (say you take a fall or get into a fight)…it’s better to stay #alwaysready, as you never know when shits gonna hit the fan. There won’t be a notification on your phone, that’s for sure.
Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link.
In general, most weight training will have some impact on the wrist. However, for some people, that’s simply not enough.
There are many tools that you can use to strengthen your wrists and forearms. Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, steel clubs, resistance bands, and more.
Our favorite tool to strengthen the wrists is one that greatly strengthens it by nature of design.
It’s the steel mace.
The steel mace holds the majority of its weight in the ball at the end of the handle. This displaces the weight from the center of your hand, creating an uneven weight distribution, which, in effect, works your wrists and forearms like crazy. Essentially, any steel mace exercise is going to target the wrists and forearms.
We love the steel mace for its ability to tremendously strengthen the wrists and forearms while simultaneously targeting other areas of the body. You don’t need to do wrist focused exercises to have serious “wrist” gains.
Furthermore, you can target literally every muscle group with a steel mace, and every plane of motion, although it’s best for shoulders, stabilizer muscles, core strength, and stability through the transverse plane. You will build incredible rotational and anti-rotational strength and stability with the steel mace, all while working your wrist and forearms like it’s nobody’s business.
After training with a steel mace for a while, you will see significant improvements in your forearms and grip strength, as well as an improved balance and coordination through a powerful and stable core. And since you’ve landed on this article, best of all for you, your wrists will become bulletproof…straight up iron hard.
During steel mace movements, you will use your grip and wrists to maintain the mace in the correct position (the weight is always offset so your wrists and forearms will be put to the test). This is why starting with a lighter mace is always recommended for those with weaker wrists, elbows and shoulder joints. If you plan on doing hand switches and more complex movements and sequences, your wrists will be moving through their four ranges of motions that we mentioned above in the wrist anatomy section. The steel mace covers the whole nine (or four in this case) when it comes to strengthening the wrists.
Below we will show you a few exercises and hand switches that will make your wrists bulletproof. We will also run you through a few grip and wrist specific exercises using the steel mace. As mentioned, the steel mace works the wrists more than any other tool we’ve used simply by nature of design, so when you do an actual wrist focused exercise with the steel mace, it’s like a double whammy.
Warm up: 5-10 minutes (wrist, elbow and shoulder focused)
17 Wrist Strengthening Exercises using a Steel Mace:
1. Offset Wrist Rolls
2. Single Arm Pike
3. Ulnar Deviation
4. Radial Deviation
6. Mace Head Grabs
8. Full Circle
9. Half Circle
11. Back Switch
13. 10 to 2
14. Single Arm 360
15. Single Arm 10 to 2
16. Offset Extended Holds
17. Front Raises with Pause
Exercises can be done traditionally:
3 sets x 10-15 reps
Note: You can add a few of these exercises to your current workouts. You do not need to perform all of these exercises during one workout session, although that can be done.
Unfortunately, wrist size is mostly determined by our genetics, meaning the bone structure we were given, AND fat, but no one wants to get fat just to have bigger wrists (plus, that doesn’t even mean they will be stronger…nope, just fatter).
So, yes, they can grow a couple of millimeters, but the size is negligible. Your forearms will grow though, and that’s great for stronger wrists.
More importantly than gaining wrist girth, working your wrists will allow you to increase bone density and strength of the ligaments.
Similar to muscles, bone is actually a living tissue that reacts to exercise by becoming stronger. Men and women who exercise on a regular basis from early adulthood typically have greater peak bone mass, compared to those who don’t. Bone mass usually peaks during the third decade of your life. After that, we start to lose bone mass. So, women and men over the age of 20 can prevent bone mass/density loss by exercising regularly. Furthermore, exercising will allow us to maintain muscle strength, balance and coordination, which directly affects us by decreasing the chance of injury (preventing falls and fractures).
The best kinds of exercises for the bones are weight-bearing and resistance exercises. Working against gravity like this helps us strengthen our bones.
Take note that exercises, like swimming and bicycling, are great for cardiovascular benefits and building and maintaining muscle, but they don’t directly affect the strength of our bones. Therefore, in terms of our bones, weight training and resistance training is a very important aspect of fitness.
So, going back to the question of can my wrists grow? The answer is, again, not so much. Well, not like a muscle can at least. Nevertheless, the bone strength and density that you can achieve through weight training and working on specific joints means everything. This is something everyone should do as it is simply advantageous for improving daily life, our fitness, and athleticism.
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