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Get a Grip! The Benefits of Grip and Wrist Training, and How to Do It

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sárka-Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) Only the most dedicated exercisers consider working out their hands and forearms, but wrist and grip training offers many benefits, most that have nothing to do with bodybuilding. For example, you'll be able to open jars without asking for help. If that isn't enough, these exercises will allow you to give better shoulder rubs and will reduce the chances of injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome.

Since yours wrists don't actually have muscles, you have to strengthen the muscles in your hands and forearms. A simple way to do that is to get a flexible resistance bar, which is a short, lightweight exercise tool that is actually a lot of fun.

Bar Wringing

One basic exercise you can do with a resistance bar is the flexion and extension wringing motion. You effectively pretend the bar is a wet hand towel you've rolled up and are now wringing water out of. Alternating wringing the bar in one direction and then the other causes each wrist to flex and then extend, strenghening your muscles and tendons while also improving grip strength.


If you happen to have a basketball you can improve forearm strength by dribbling. This works standing up or even seated in a chair. If you want to give your core a workout at the same time, dribble the basketball while sitting on an exercise ball. It's harder than you think, but the point is to get your wrist moving up and down, which builds strength through flexion.


To strengthen your wrists in the opposite manner as dribbling, use very light dumbbells or even water bottles to perform wrist curls. Holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing up and your elbows bent, curl your wrists without moving the rest of your arms.

If you feel at all uncomfortable, sit down and rest the back of your forearms on your thighs. Also, consider using a lighter weight.

Dumbbell Hammers

For a complete forearm exercise you can't just do exercises that require your wrists to move up and down. You also have to strengthen them in a side to side motion against gravity. Using dumbbells as if they were hammers improves strength where you need it.

Simply hold a light dumbbell in one hand with your thumb on top as you would hold a hammer. Bend your elbow and place your arm against your side. Then, move the dumbbell up and down as if you were hammering something. Switch arms when you're tired.

Tennis Ball Squeeze 

Most of the above exercises focus on forearm strength with only a little challenge to your hands for improving grip strength. Although your forearm muscles work in conjuction with the muscles in your hands and even your upper arms, it's important to also perform exercises like squeezing a tennis ball to target the muscles responsible for gripping onto something and holding tight – like the lid of a jar.

Squeeze a tennis ball as hard as you're able for 3 to 5 seconds. Relax momentarily and then squeeze again. Switch hands after doing this a few times.

Rubber Band Extensions

The tennis ball squeeze builds strength by flexing your fingers, but to strengthen the fingers and hand with the opposite motion simply bring the tips of your fingers and thumb close together on one hand, place a rubber band around the digits, and then spread your fingers wide. You can adjust the difficulty of the exercise by lifting the band higher toward your fingertips.

These exercises done as a unit should greatly increase the strength of your hands, fingers, and forearms overtime but as with any new type of exercise don't overdo it. You might only want to do a few repetitions of each and then see how you feel. Gradually increase the duration or number as the exercises feel easier.

See also:

Easy Ab Workout With an Exercise Ball

Travel-inspired Core Workout for the Abs and Back

Simple Exercises to Strengthen and Shape Your Derrière

Exercises for Sexy, Sculpted Calves



About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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