The question: I want to strengthen my wrists. Any suggestions?
The answer: Try doing kettlebell exercises holding the bell portion up in the air. Your wrists have to work hard to keep the bell facing straight up toward the ceiling.
These two exercises are personal favorites – believe me, they are deceptively challenging!
- Single-arm bell-up kettlebell press: Stand with your knees slightly bent, core engaged. Hold the kettlebell at chest height, bell facing the ceiling. Press the bell up 10 to 15 times. Don’t let the bell wobble. Repeat with other hand.
- Single-arm bell-up farmer’s walk: Hold the kettlebell up, arm straight and above your shoulder. Keep the bell stable, use your core and don’t let your hips or shoulders rotate side to side as you walk across the floor for one minute. Repeat with the bell in your other hand.
You can also use free weights or a band to do more traditional wrist flexion and extension exercises. Take a band when you travel so you never have to skip your wrist workouts.
Wrist flexion: Sit with your chest out and back straight, forearm supported on a bench or the sofa, hand dangling off of the edge. Hold the weight or band in your hand, palm up. If you are using the band, anchor the other end with your foot. Keep your forearm still as you pull your knuckles toward your wrist 15 times. Repeat on other hand.
Wrist extension: Start in the above position, except start with your palm facing the floor. Pull your knuckles toward your forearm 15 times. Repeat on opposite arm.
Another way to work your wrists is to change your hand position or the width of your grip when you use freeweights or barbells. For example, use a thicker bar when doing bench press or bent-over rows; do biceps curls with your palms down; triceps cable presses with your palms up; or put Fat Gripz around dumbbells to increase the diameter of what your hands have to hold.
Trainer's tip: I get clients who are concerned about their wrists, or who suffer from chronic bouts of tennis or golf elbow, to use a FlexBar daily at their desk, when they watch TV or when they travel. It looks like a thick piece of licorice and comes in different thicknesses. It helps you work your wrists from many different angles.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for over 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.