When it comes to boxing, the power of a punch is everything. And while it’s easy to focus on building upper body strength, the wrists are a crucial area that often goes overlooked.
The wrist is one of a boxer’s most critical body parts to develop, as it’s crucial for delivering powerful punches and avoiding injury.
In this article, we’ll learn the anatomy of wrists and the benefits of wrist-strengthening exercises. I will provide the seven best exercises to help you build stronger, more resilient wrists. So, let’s dive in!
Anatomy of the Wrist and Forearm
The wrist comprises two main muscle groups: the flexors and extensors.
The flexors on the palm side of the forearm are responsible for closing the hand and curling the wrist. The extensors on the back of the forearm are responsible for opening the hand and extending the wrist.
These two muscle groups work together to allow for a full range of wrist motion.
The forearm comprises several muscle groups, including the pronators, supinators, and brachioradialis. The pronators and supinators are responsible for rotating the forearm. While the brachioradialis is responsible for bending the elbow. These muscles work with the wrist muscles to generate force and movement.
In addition to the muscles, several tendons and ligaments in the wrist and forearm contribute to stability and mobility. The most well-known tendon in the wrist is the extensor carpi radialis brevis, which is responsible for wrist extension and is critical in punching. Furthermore, several other tendons and ligaments are also crucial for wrist and forearm health.
Common Wrist Injuries in Boxing
Boxers often suffer from wrist injuries, including sprains, strains, and fractures. Sprains occur when the ligaments in your wrist are stretched or torn, while strains happen when the muscles or tendons are stretched or torn.
On the other hand, fractures happen when one of the bones in the wrist is broken. These injuries can also occur on the ankle when running on a high incline treadmill due to improper technique, repetitive stress, or impact trauma.
7 Best Exercises to Strengthen Your Wrists for Boxing
Here’re the seven best wrist exercises:
1. Wrist Curls
Wrist curls target the flexor muscles in your wrist, which are responsible for closing your fist. This exercise helps to improve wrist and grip strength, promoting you to deliver more powerful punches.
How to do it:
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand with your palm facing up and rest your forearm on a bench or table.
- Slowly curl the weight towards your forearm, then lower it back down.
- Repeat for three sets of 10-15 reps on each hand.
2. Reverse Wrist Curls
This exercise targets the extensor muscles in your wrist responsible for opening your hand. It helps to improve wrist strength and flexibility, allowing you to absorb impact and reduce the risk of injury.
How to do it:
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand with your palm facing down and rest your forearm on a bench or table.
- Slowly curl the weight towards your forearm, then lower it to the starting position.
- Do three sets of 10-15 reps on each hand.
3. Plate Pinch
Plate pinch exercise mainly works on increasing your grip strength and forearm endurance. It also helps develop your wrist stability and prevent injury.
How to do it:
- Hold two weight plates together (smooth sides facing out) with your fingers.
- Lift the plates off the ground and hold them for as long as possible.
- Perform 2-3 sets of 30-45 seconds.
4. Farmer’s Walk/Carry
This basic walking movement is a great full-body exercise that targets your grip and wrist muscles. This exercise helps improve your wrist strength, endurance, and core stability.
How to do it:
- Hold a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells with your hands. Keep your chest up and core tight, and look straight ahead.
- Walk for a set distance or time for 2-3 sets of 30-45 seconds.
5. Forearm Plank
This plank variation can be excellent for developing wrist stability and endurance. It also engages the core, glutes, and shoulders.
How to do it:
- Get into a plank position on your forearms.
- Hold the position for 30-60 seconds or as long as possible.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets.
6. Wrist Roller
If you want to build your wrist strength and endurance, a wrist roller can be one of the most effective. This exercise also assists you in increasing forearm size and grip strength.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet slightly apart and stand tall.
- Hold a weight on a rope or bar with both hands.
- Roll the weight up towards your hands, then slowly lower it back.
- Do it for 2-3 sets.
7. Towel Grip
Towel grip exercise strengthens your grip and forearm’s tolerance capacity. You’ll also engage the back and core muscles during this exercise.
How to do it:
- Hang a towel over a pull-up bar or other elevated surface.
- Grip the towel and hold yourself up for as long as you can.
- Repeat 2-3 sets of 30-60 seconds or failure.
Note: Start with lighter weights and longer reps, and gradually increase the weights as you build strength and endurance. As always, consult with a medical professional before starting any new exercise program.
Other Tips for Strengthening the Wrists
Besides exercise, you can use grip strengtheners, which allow you to grip and release a spring-loaded resistance. These devices can help improve your grip strength, making your punches rock solid.
Another thing you should keep in mind is to avoid overtraining your wrists. This means doing more than just a few repetitions or sets of wrist exercises and allowing adequate rest and recovery time between sessions.
Also, it is always essential to wear hand wraps while training in boxing. Hand wraps will support your wrists fully and prevent you from any injuries.
Whether you’re training your wrist or any other body parts, overtraining can lead to muscle strain and injury, which can set back your progress and prevent you from training.
Benefits of Strengthening the Wrists
Strengthening the wrists has numerous benefits for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Boxers, in particular, require strong and flexible wrists to meet their sports needs.
Here are some of the top benefits of strengthening the wrists:
1. Increase punching power: The wrists are essential for generating power in punches, and stronger wrists can deliver more forceful blows. By targeting the wrist flexor muscles with exercises such as wrist curls and reverse wrist curls, you can develop greater wrist strength and improve your punching power.
2. Improve grip strength: A firm grip is essential for boxing, whether holding onto a heavy bag or clinching with an opponent. Strengthening the wrist extensor muscles with moves like plate pinches and towel grips can enhance grip strength.
3. Reduce the risk of injury: Weak wrists can be prone to injury, particularly in sports that involve repetitive or high-impact movements. By strengthening the wrist and forearm muscles, boxers can minimize the risk of injury and protect against strains, sprains, and other wrist-related injuries.
4. Increase endurance: Endurance is critical in boxing, maintaining stamina throughout a match and withstanding impacts. Boxers can develop greater overall endurance and resilience by incorporating exercises that target wrist endurance, such as farmer’s walks and plate pinches.
5. Improve balance and stability: The wrists play a critical role in balance and stability during boxing movements, such as shifting weight from foot to foot or pivoting during punches. Strengthening the wrist and forearm muscles can also help you maintain proper form and technique.
Strengthening your wrists is a vital part of boxing training. By doing the exercises that target the wrist muscles and following tips, you can build solid and powerful wrists to deliver devastating punches and reduce the risk of injury.
Incorporate the mentioned exercises and tips into your training routine to enhance your overall boxing performance and take your game to the next level.
Bishnu Pada Das is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and founder of CrazyAthlete. He encourages and empowers people to lose weight, build muscle, and live a healthy lifestyle.