There are plenty of exercises that target your butt and abs — some at the same time! — but your wrists and forearms tend to get left out. I mean, can you even imagine a workout video called “The Moves You Need for Strong, Sexy Wrists!”? Yeah, didn’t think so. Unfortunately, the lack of attention is a problem, and that couldn’t be more clear to me than when I get into a plank and the first thing on fire isn’t my abs, but my forearms and wrists.
Having poor strength in those two very overlooked (yet crucial!) areas of your body doesn’t just affect your planking abilities, though. The super-sneaky small muscles can also make it nearly impossible to do yoga poses properly and perform basic strength training moves. “Forearm and wrist strength is needed when gripping weights for pulling-type exercises, like seated rows, lat pull-downs, or pull-ups,” says Phil Timmons, program manager at Blink Fitness. So what better time than now to start giving them the attention they deserve?
If you feel like your wrists and forearms are the weakest link keeping you from reaching your fitness potential, these trainer-approved exercises can ensure they never get in the way ever again. Added bonus: It will also be much easier to carry your overloaded Trader Joe’s grocery bags home. It’s a win-win.
Try these exercises to strengthen your forearms
1. Battle ropes: “Walk the battle ropes all the way out, then take two steps forward so the ropes have some slack. Start in a hip-hinged position with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest proud, and one rope in each hand. Now, picture having a drumstick in each hand and flick your wrists as you beat the drum. Work for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat for total of five sets. It will not only help develop your wrist and grip strength, but also help with conditioning.” —Hernan Santa, Jr., head boxing coach and head of personal training at EverybodyFights
2. Weighted wrist extension: “While holding onto weights—like dumbbells, barbells, or weighted body bars—set your forearms on a support, like a bench, with your wrists extended just over the support and your palms facing down. Without moving the forearm or elbow off the support, raise your backhand and knuckles up as far as you can, extending just from the wrist. Hold at the top of your range of motion for a couple seconds, then slowly return to your starting position by bending your wrists so your knuckles face more toward the floor. Continue this pattern for a high rep count and keep a moderate-to-slow tempo throughout the movement.” —Phil Timmons
3. Farmer’s walk: “Grab two heavy dumbbells, kettle bells, or farmers bars, and walk, imagining you’re carrying a set of grocery bags in each hand. Focus on how you walk with the weight: Think about having a tall spine and keeping your chest proud. Walk as far as you can, then rest between one minute and one and a half minutes, repeating the process for five sets. The farmer’s walk trains your full body, but most importantly grip strength and the ability to lift and carry heavy objects for everyday life.” —Hernan Santa, Jr.
4. Weighted wrist flexion: “You’ll perform this exercise just like the weighted wrist extension, only this time you’ll support your forearms with your palms facing up instead of down and flex or curl from the wrist. Again, continue the exercise for a high number of reps with a moderate to slow tempo.” —Phil Timmons