Wrist Push-ups

January 16, 2012 // Al Kavadlo

Everyone knows strength training is great for your muscles, but a lot of people don’t realize that working out also does a great deal for your bones, tendons and other connective tissue. Most people are so concerned with aesthetic goals that they overlook the changes that can’t visibly be seen.

While an exercise like push-ups on the backs of your hands might seem totally insane, I believe they can make your wrists incredibly strong if implemented gradually after a solid foundation of strength has been established. Only once you get comfortable with other push-up variations like diamonds, knuckle push-ups and fingertip push-ups should you consider working on this variation.

Wrist-y Business
Admittedly, the risk for injury is higher with wrist push-ups than most other push-up variations. The average person will be fine sticking with standard push-ups and close grip (diamond) push-ups. They are arguably the only two variations you need for everyday fitness.

Martial artists, gymnasts and other people looking to push their body to the limit of its physical potential, however, have long been known to benefit from training wrist push-ups. With increased risk, sometimes comes increased benefits. Wrist push-ups have been helping athletes perform better for quite some time.

Ease In Slowly
When starting out, I recommend training on a soft surface, as the skin on the backs of your hands will feel sensitive and chafe easily. In time you can condition yourself to do them on pavement.

Before going for a full wrist push-up, try a push-up with one hand on the palm and the other backwards. I call this a “one and one” push-up. Some people may feel more comfortable with their hand facing inward rather than completely upside down (see photo). To keep things balanced, switch which hand is face up on alternating sets. After a couple of weeks (or longer depending on individual conditioning) you may progress to full back of the hand push-ups.

Rest Your Wrists
Tread lightly with this exercise when starting out as it will likely feel uncomfortable at first. You have to give your body time to adapt to new stimuli. In the beginning, the most you’ll want to work on this move is three times a week. In time your wrists will adapt and become stronger. Then you can increase your training volume or take things to the next level by starting to work toward a one arm push-up on your wrist. A master of this move would seem very unlikely to break their wrist in a fall or a fight!

As always, exercise your common sense first. If you experience pain during your training, back off.