How to Strengthen Your Wrists for Boxing with Wrist Strengthening Exercises
You may think your arms hold all of the power for your punches in boxing, but wrist strength has a significant impact on your performance in the ring. Building your wrist and forearm strength will help to improve your grip strength, keep your forearm stable and aligned when hitting the bag, and help prevent injuries from repetitive motions.
There are several different ways to strengthen wrists for boxing, from strengthening exercises to stretches. If you want to learn how to strengthen wrists for boxing, check out this vital information about the correlation of the hand, forearm, and rotator cuff.
How Grip Strength Helps Functional Strength and Conditioning
Grip strength, also known as hand strength, is a measure of muscle health in the hand and forearm. When you incorporate grip strength exercises into your regular routine, you’ll see many beneficial changes, including:
- Improved upper body push and pull movements/strength
- Better shoulder stability
- Increased range of motion in the rotator cuff
Your forearm strength determines much of your functional strength in the arm and shoulder, even if you don’t realize it. It acts as a support for your rotator cuff and your body uses it to limit injuries that may occur in your wrists and arms during boxing or weight training, such as a bench press, overhead dumbbell press, or other upper body strengthening exercises that put pressure on your hand and wrist.
Improving your forearm strength, and learning how to strengthen your wrists for boxing, will immediately allow you to move better and work harder, as your body will recognize that the forearms and wrists are now better able to minimize any danger of injuries.
Best Grip Strength Exercises
Your grip strength is extremely important and may provide insight to your overall health as you age. Grip strength plays a significant role in strength and conditioning exercises, especially movements like the deadlift, dumbbell farmer's carry, and rows.
One of the best grip strength exercises to increase grip and rotator cuff strength are kettlebell bottoms up press variations. They have a neurological and physical effect on the muscle activity in your shoulder, and you learn how to strengthen your wrists for boxing.
The kettlebell (KB) press activates the rotator cuff and increases a neuromuscular drive, which will give you a better grip and functional movement in the upper body, from your shoulders to your forearm and wrist.
An advantage of this mechanism is that it provides the shoulder with anticipatory stability in the shoulder whenever you complete a task that involves a gripping activity. By manipulating an object using both the forearm and shoulder, your shoulder will be better able to handle the load efficiently.
Redistribute Muscle Activity of the Shoulder
Not only does gripping activate the rotator cuff, but it also decreases the activity of the anterior and middle deltoid. Most shoulder impingement patients suffer from an altered deltoid-RTC, and the KB press can help them redistribute the pressure of regular muscle activity.
Irradiation helps your muscles generate more tension through the activity of the surrounding muscles. The strength of all the muscles is compounded to increase your strength and stabilize your shoulder.
Other great gripping exercises and wrist strengthening exercises include:
- To begin, stand in an upright position with feet spaced evenly apart.
- Grab a barbell with your hands facing down, toward the floor.
- Keep your upper arms tucked into your side while extending your forearms so that they are straight in front of you.
- Maintaining that straight line, lift the barbell in front of you without untucking your arms. This will isolate the forearm muscles.
- Lift until you feel your biceps contract, and release. You can also do this exercise with a dumbbell.
One of the best wrist strengthening exercises is wrist curls.
- Grab a dumbbell with your left hand and sit on a bench, with your arm extended in front of you, resting on your leg. Your palm should be facing the ceiling.
- Move your arm forward enough that the barbell is hanging over the edge of your knee enough to allow for proper wrist flexion.
- Maintain your upper arm position and slowly curl the dumbbell upward, using only your left wrist.
- Switch to the right arm and repeat. Alternatively, you can use a barbell and strengthen your wrists at the same time.
The rice bucket exercise is a commonly used practice with athletes trying to develop strong wrists. If you're wondering how to strengthen wrists for boxing, this unconventional approach can make a huge difference.
- First, get a bucket of uncooked rice. It should be deep enough to cover your hand and wrist.
- Have the bucket at waist height close to you for support-- your abdomen should be touching the bucket.
- Push your hands into the rice with your palms and forearms facing upward. Your elbow should be extended.
- Grab the rice and slowly rotate your close fists, so that your forearms end up facing you.
- Release and repeat.
This strengthening exercise will add resistance against your wrist joint, increasing strength in your forearm muscles.
The farmers walk farmers carry is a popular Strongman exercise that rapidly improves grip strength and translates well into other sports. This can be done with weight plates, a dumbbell, a kettlebell, or a farmers carry apparatus if you have access to one.
- Grab your dumbbells, kettlebells or whatever you're using for this exercise, one in each hand.
- Keep your arms extended by your side; don't be tempted to shrug.
- Walk while holding the heavy objects. Your goal is not to set them down or rest.
- Over time, you should be able to hold heavier objects and go farther without stopping.
Wrist stretches will not only increase flexibility to help prevent injury, but they are a great way to warm up your wrists before engaging in strengthening exercises. Stretching the wrists will also help to loosen up your forearm muscles, which we’ve learned is important for grip strength.
Here are some stretching exercises you can practice to help improve the range of motion and function of your wrists.
This is a great stretch to loosen up the fingers and hands before exercising.
- Sit comfortably and bend your arm at the elbow in a right angle.
- Make a fist, and then slowly open it spreading and stretching your fingers as far apart as possible.
- Repeat a few times.
- Repeat with your other hand.
Wrist Flexion and Wrist Extension Stretch
This simple stretch is great for stretching your wrists and forearms, especially after repetitive motions.
- Extend your arm with your palm facing up toward the ceiling.
- With your other hand, gently press your fingers down towards the floor
- Rotate your hand so the palms are downward towards the floor.
- With your other hand, gently press your fingers up towards the ceiling.
- Repeat the same motions on the other hand.
This is a light stretch that helps to loosen up the forearms. It is most efficient if you work to keep your fingers together during the downwards movement.
- Bend your elbows and place the palms of your hands together, fingertips pointing up towards the ceiling and just below your chin.
- Lower your hands toward your waist, keeping your hands pressed together and close to your stomach.
- When you feel a gentle stretch in the underside of your forearms, hold the pose for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 4-5 times.
There are many reasons why you could be experiencing wrist pain. For example, if you feel wrist pain while doing a downward-facing dog pose, it could be because of undue pressure on under-conditioned wrists.
Alternatively, it could be a sign of a deeper issue, like carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve, usually caused by repetitive motions. It occurs frequently in those who do sports or work at a computer all day.
Wrist strengthening exercises can help offset wrist pain caused by wrist injuries by strengthening the wrist and forearm muscles and improving wrist mobility. If you aren't ready to add weight to your training or have difficulty with wrist pain, start doing wrist curls with a tennis ball. Work your way up to a resistance band. In time, the downward-facing dog pose and your day-to-day experiences will no longer hurt your wrists.
If you have a history of wrist pain or if the pain doesn't dissipate, consult with a physical therapist to decide the best course of treatment.
One method to improve grip strength or helping offset the effects of a weak grip is by doing the hook grip during lifting exercise. With the hook grip, you put your thumb under your fingers when gripping the bar. The thumb acts as a lock, holding the bar in place. This is often used by Olympic weightlifters due to the complexity of their movements.
In addition to using your thumb to make a hook grip, continue to use wrist-strengthening exercises and forearm exercises to improve.
Learning How to Strengthen Your Wrists for Boxing
Wrist strength is functional strength; it’s the kind of strength that allows you to move efficiently and prevent injury. Want to learn more about functional strength training? Come see what Blitz Sessions are all about at Gloveworx!