Wrist Exercises – How to Strengthen your Wrists for MMA

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3 Exercises to Strengthen Your Wrists

There are a few areas of strength I feel get neglected often by many fighters and athletes. Things like ankles, and wrists aren’t often singled out and worked on individually. Typically you are working on your wrists strength when you do any exercise that uses your hands. If you want to build really strong solid wrists that won’t crack under pressure you need to focus on improving wrist strength through wrist exercises. It is important to warm up and stretch your wrists just like you would any of your other muscles. Even though you wrap your wrists for extra support when you practice and compete, it is important to continue building that strength to avoid injury and improve your overall game. Doing wrist exercises can help your punching power as well as your grappling strength. If you’ve ever rolled with someone who has a much stronger grip than you it can be terribly annoying and frustrating. Always be the one with the stronger grip.

Wrist Curls

wrist curlsThis is a very common exercise for building forearm and wrist strength. All you need for this exercise is a small weight or even a plate. For wrist curls, you can start off with a lighter wight and rest your forearm on your leg or the edge of a table. While gripping the weight you are going for a full flexion and extension of your wrist. Like you are trying to bend it all the way backwards and forwards.

I recommend starting out with a lighter dumbell and work your way up in weight. You can also vary the exercise by trying a different type of weight. I have seen wrist curls done with kettlebells, plates, barbells, and even resistance bands. All you are doing is adding weight or resistance to the flexion/extension of your wrist. I like to do 3-5 sets of wrist curlsĀ  varying between lighter and heavier weights. You want to make sure you warm your wrist up before curling a heavy weight, and stretch it after you are done with your wrist exercises.

Knuckle Pushups

knuckle pushupThese types of pushups are popular in traditional martial arts schools because they strengthen your wrists and your knuckles. Taking that same fist you are punching with and pressing it into the ground while you do a pushup is a great way to improve punching strength. A couple years ago I sprained my wrist while grappling and I wasn’t able to bend my wrist very well. I was unable to do regular pushups and I was devastated. After it healed a little bit, I tried a fist on the ground instead of a flat hand for the injured wrist. I would use my left palm on the ground, and my right wrist and that;s how I started doing pushups for a while. I noticed after A bit that my right wrist was very strong and very stable in comparison to my left wrist. The knuckle pushups on that side made a huge different. I switched to doing strictly knuckle pushups and that has really improved my wrist stability.

I feel this really translated well into punching power. I feel more solid when I’m hitting the heavy bag hard and working on my power. You can a very variations of the knuckle pushup but I prefer a neutral grip and try to keep my hands under my shoulders. Some people prefer a pronated grip, but I feel it takes away from the form of the pushup and can be awkward on your hands. For more advanced variations you can try One Arm knuckle pushups or even handstand pushups on your knuckles.


wrist squeezingGrab a gallon jug and some oranges and get to it. Maybe not oranges, but squeezing something that provides a lot of resistance will improve wrist and forearm strength as well as give you a crushing grip. Something easy to start with is a tennis ball. An older tennis ball should have a little more give and be easier to start. You can also find other things that are hard to squeeze like other rubber balls. There are even products made to help with grip strength. I’m sure you’ve seen the common wishbone looking gripper some people squeeze for a week then lose in a drawer.

Squeezing can help improve strength in different ways. You can squeeze and hold to improve muscle endurance. I know climbers or other people that rely on their grip work on this type of strength a lot. If you are in a grappling situation you are going to want to be able to hold onto your opponent. Whether it is the beginning of the fight when you are both fresh, or near the end when you are sweaty and slippery — a strong grip is going to benefit you.

Hanging from a pullup bar is a great way to work on that squeezing endurance. I like to hang a towel or a Gi over the bar and hang onto that. It challenges your grip in a different way and helps build some incredible strength.



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Travis Williams

Owner of evolvedMMA.com. I am a Certified Personal Trainer who trains Mixed Martial Arts. I review any and everything. I sometimes bet on fights!
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About Travis Williams 260 Articles
Owner of evolvedMMA.com. I am a Certified Personal Trainer who trains Mixed Martial Arts. I review any and everything. I sometimes bet on fights!