Wrist Push-ups

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.

Diamonds are forever

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.

Watch the video below for more:

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1602250538 Dima Vladimirovich Sonin

    Thanks Al! Surely will try to do this!

  • Tommy

    Ouch! I wonder, has any research been done on long term bone density or osteoarthritis incidence in people doing exercises like this?

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    I don’t know, Tommy.  Probably nothing substantiative. 

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Cool!  Give it a go!

  • Daniel

    thanks Al, great post, been sort of working on these for a while and is great to find out more about them. So far i’ve only got them against the wall!

  • Daniel

    thanks Al, great post, been sort of working on these for a while and is great to find out more about them. So far i’ve only got them against the wall!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, Daniel!  Keep at it and remember progress gradually.

  • jakey

    al, you entered beast mode years ago, and haven’t looked back.  damn dude!

  • Feinguy

    Al your timing is just perfect. I was looking into these just last
    week. Lucky me! lol :)  I hope you’ll do another vid or 2 with ring exercises
    this year. Thanks as always!

  • Vaclav

    Thanks Al for inspirating vids! I started to work out in the age of 48, was only running long distances before, than injured my knee (shin splints) 3 years ago and can  not run any more even after several therapies. Found then Kettlebells, than CC and I am great fan of bodyweight exercises now, results are coming so quickly in my age, unbelievable! In the past I spent lot of time in gym with almost no effect, now I know why! ;-) I hope after building more muscles around the knee, I will be able to run again.

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Ha – thanks, Jakey!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Right on, Feinguy!  I’ll keep your suggestion in mind!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    It’s never too late to start, Vaclav!  Keep up the great work!

  • Nickfrew

    Hi AL, Anything with “wrist” in the title just makes me wince (my wrists are both pretty smashed up). Just wanted to say that I got the book abnd read through it in one sitting. Interesting stuff. Looking forward to the next one (and I’m thinking of getting convict conditioning 2, since I’ve got the first one)

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Glad you enjoyed my book!  My next one won’t be out for a few more months, so you might as well get CC2 in the meantime!

  • Anonymous

    Ah the old wrist push ups! I was first introduced to these in the 80′s when I first went into Kuk Sool Won (Korean MA). Master Lim would do these rapidly flipping between regular and back wrist…that piqued my interest! We did them finger pointing in, back and forward! Wide and narrow… When I was younger and in more practice I would challenge all comers to PU contest..but only if done “my way” …snickering…. And when I pulled out this technique most would say yeah right!…
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!, I still do a few now and then for practice!
    Dave

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks for sharing that story, Dave!  So just to be clear, you’ve been doing wrist push-ups since the 80′s without any issues or injuries, right?

  • Anonymous

    Essentially yes, I was in much younger then 26 in 82 when it all started and I was pretty good at continuing to practice MA but that fell off after about 8 years. I have still done and can still do the back of wrist style in all directions pain, other than the obvious discomfort…lol. I have not tried the rapid flipping we use to do but might on a padded surface. It is not as easy as it use to be!

    So yeah..no issues from doing the back of wrist PU. I feel it toughened up the backs of my wrist and made them stronger. You can also see how this could help the back of wrist strike…which is something I still use in practice on the bag.

    Thanks for all you good work Al! Which I would have had this site back then! At 55 I can still do hand stands ! Oh speaking of that we would do hand stands and switch to fist stands and then back to hands…I could only manage 2-3 before I fell but my Master could do it all day…he was amazing…still is!

    Cheers

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, Dave!  There are plenty of haters out there who tell me the things I do are going to cripple me as I age, but I believe the exact opposite to be true.  Things like wrist push-ups and pistol squats have made my bones and other connective tissue STRONGER.  It’s good to have that belief supported by your experience.

  • David Haas

    Hello,

    I have a question about your blog, could you email me?

    David

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZGSCKJVBRGMC7TYZ7XTDXIDIUI Leigh

    Okay, now try linking your fingers together, and doing back of the hands (much like diamond push ups but for wrists.  It is killer. Did it in martial arts. My Shihan can do them without whining… haha. Not me!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Yup – that’s a good one, too!

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  • http://studiedarrogance.blogspot.ca/ Scott

    Hack squats are another exercise that are supposed to be bad fro your knees but Steve Maxwell credits them for his lack of knee injuries in a sport (grappling) rife with knee injuries. On a side note, did you know there is actually a Guinness record for wrist push ups? Andre Turan did 40 in 1 minute with a 40lb. backpack. What do you think, can you take him? :)

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    I’m not concerned with setting any world records, but I think I could bust out some weighted wrist push-ups without too much trouble as I can do several one arm wrist push-ups on each side.

  • George

    Hey man, I just wanted to ask you, can wrist pushups be performed everyday (3 sets of 10 reps a day) or will that lead to over training them.

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    That sounds a bit excessive, unless you’ve gradually built up to it over a long period of time.

  • RobbyTaylor

    Would it be weird if I said I think I could beat that record with some practice?