Top 5 Wrist Exercises

By Justin Carmel, DPT

The Importance of the Forearm or Wrist Muscles

The forearm muscles are a prime example of a muscle group that we have to rely on every day both through practical activities as well as our workouts. Improving the forearm greatly supports the strength of the upper arm and biceps with lifting. Reinforcing the wrists and forearm bones of the upper extremities is essential if you want to be able to lift and maintain a raised weight. With poor conditioning of the forearms, the upper extremities wouldn’t be able to support the kind of weight you can throw around with massive shoulders and biceps.

The Anatomy of the Forearm

Diagram showing the human forearm anatomy. JOI Rehab

Anatomy of the Human Forearm Muscles

The primary movers of the forearm muscles are the flexors and extensors. The muscles are used to strengthen the wrists and grip in the hands, improving your capacity for daily living through lifting bags and other objects. The forearm contains a number of small as well as lengthy muscles, including the flexors and extensors, pronators, and supinators. Each of these muscles is responsible for the combined movement of the hand and wrist.

Wrist Strengthening for Beginners:

The Top 5 Wrist Exercises for Increasing Forearm Strength

There are a number of exercises that can help you focus your forearms to increase the overall strength of these muscle groups. These exercises target the specialized muscles of the forearm. The top 5 wrist exercises have been put together to eliminate a lot of time and wasted energy on ineffective workouts. These workouts will focus on minimal movement while maximizing the focus.


Top 5 Wrist Exercise #1 – Barbell Wrist Curls

Barbell wrist curls increase strength in the wrist flexors

Barbell wrist curls

Like many of the top 5 wrist exercises listed here, the barbell wrist curl is an extremely effective workout that targets the flexor muscles of the forearm. It can be done using an appropriate machine or a weighted barbell. Sit on a bench or at the machine. Rest your forearms on your thighs with palms up as you hold the barbell. Using only your hands and your wrists you will curl the barbell up toward the ceiling as high as you can lift. When you lower the barbell under control, allow it to roll into the nook of your fingertips.


Top 5 Wrist Exercise #2 – Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls

barbell reverse wrist curls help to strengthen the back of the forearms and wrists.

Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl

The barbell reverse wrist curl is a very similar motion to the common barbell curl listed above and focuses primarily on the forearm extensor muscles. To perform this workout you will need to take a seat at a bunch or at the appropriate weight machine. Lay your forearms on your lap while you hold the weighted barbell (or empty barbell) with your palms facing down. Using only the muscles in your wrists and forearm, curl the weight upward as high as you can go while keeping your forearms flat on your lap. Lower the barbell under control as far as you’re able to go and then repeat.


Top 5 Wrist Exercise #3 – Dumbbell Wrist Curl

Dumbbell wrist curls help to strengthen the wrist flexors

Dumbbell Wrist Curls

This is one of the top 5 wrist exercises that is absolutely great for the forearm flexors. This motion allows you to work each forearm individually. By working with the individual weights, you’re able to establish a greater sense of balance. To perform this top forearm exercise you’ll need to straddle a bench and hold the dumbbell with an underhand grip. Spread your legs and rest your forearm on the bench so that it’s extending beyond the end of the long bench. Allow the dumbbell to drop so that it rolls into your fingertips. Grip the weight and flex your wrist to bring the dumbbell back up to a starting position.


Top 5 Wrist Exercise #4 – Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curl

dumbbell reverse wrist curls help to strengthen the back of the forearm and wrist.

Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curl

Redundancy is never an issue when you have a variety of muscles to train. While these workouts may seem similar to another, the change in position completely changes the targeted muscle group. The reverse wrist curl targets the bulk of the extensors. Again, when you work with the individual weights you’re able to individually target the muscle groups of the arms. The individual workouts from one side to another will help stimulate balance and proportion between your forearms.

For this top 5 wrist exercise, you need to straddle a bench and hold your dumbbell with an overhand grip. Lean forward and rest your forearm on the bench at a bent, 90-degree angle. With this angle, you’ll be holding the dumbbell weight off the side of the bench with your palm facing the floor. Lower the dumbbell as far as you can and reverse the motion to bring the weight back up as far you can while flexing the wrist. Once your reps are complete, switch arms and repeat the process.


Top 5 Wrist Exercise #5 – Reverse Barbell Curls

Reverse barbell curls help to strengthen the wrist extensors while strengthening the elbow flexors.

Reverse Barbell Curls

Unlike the other top 5 wrist exercises, the reverse barbell curl actually diverts some of the attention to the biceps however it does specifically target the forearm extensor muscles through the lifting process. This is an excellent workout if you want to take some emphasis off the forearm muscle groups to blend maneuvers into a whole body workout – perhaps to give your forearm a bit of a rest.

To perform this workout, grip a barbell (some prefer an EZ curl barbell for added wrist comfort) so that your hands are shoulder-width apart, palms to the floor (overhand grip). Standing straight, you will keep your back flat and your chin up. Tuck your elbows into your sides and curl the bar upwards towards your clavicle area (upper chest, neck). Hold the lift and flex the forearm muscles then lower the barbell under control.

Remember to keep your arms tucked into your sides. If you open your arms up you’re placing additional emphasis on your upper arm muscles and could inadvertently strain your shoulder muscles and joints.

For more Content From The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Subscribe to our YouTube Channel!

Related Articles:

Book an Appointment with The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Today!

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

Image of Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician Button

Skip to content