How to strengthen wrists for bench press? Dumbbell bench press wrist position

The bench press was, in fact, the go-to exercise for many athletes and strength coaches throughout my experience as a sports medicine doctor working with professional hockey and soccer players.
With that said, athletes would occasionally come into my clinic and complain about wrist pain while bench pressing.
So, while the bench press can be extremely beneficial when done correctly, it can also be harmful if the proper technique is not used.
We’ll go over why you experience wrist pain while bench pressing and how to fix it in this article.

Dumbbell bench press wrist position

One of the most common injuries when bench pressing with a bar is a pull or tear in the wrist ligaments. The wrists are positioned at an awkward angle during the lift, and as the weight is applied to the bar, the wrists are forced into an unnatural position. This can cause damage to the ligaments that support the wrist joint, which can lead to pain, instability and even a complete tear.

To avoid this problem, it’s important to keep your wrists in an neutral position throughout the bench press. To do this, you should place your palms flat on the bench and use your fingers to support your upper arm. You should then extend your arms fully until they’re parallel to each other and hold onto the handles of the dumbbells.


If you’re doing repetitive motions with your hands, this is a warm-up for stretching or a relaxation break.

Sit in a comfortable position and bend your elbow, resting your upper arm on your leg or a table, or holding it with your other hand.

Make a fist, then flex your hand at the wrist as far as you can comfortably up and down. Maintain a smooth and continuous motion by moving your wrist back and forth 10 times. Only move your wrist, not your arm.

Move your wrist to the left as far as you can comfortably, then to the right as far as you can comfortably, while keeping your hand in the same position. Again, move your wrist rather than your arm. Repeat the move 10 times in a smooth and continuous motion.

It’s worth noting that you can accomplish this with your hand in the air and no support under your arm.

Stretch to loosen up

Before you begin exercising, do this basic stretch to loosen up your fingers and hands. If you’re conducting repetitive hand motions, it’s also a good time to relax your wrists and hands.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position and bend your elbow at a right angle.
  2. Make a fist, then open it slowly, spreading and stretching your fingers apart.
  3. Rep a couple times more.
  4. Rep with the opposite hand.

Fix your alignment

Wrist strength is necessary for bench press performance. Proper alignment of the wrists is key to ensure that the pressure applied to the barbell by the hands is evenly distributed throughout the joint. Poor wrist alignment can cause excessive tension on certain muscles and tendons, leading to weakness and injury. There are a few simple exercises you can do to fix your alignment and strengthen your wrists:

1) Place your hands at shoulder width, with palms facing forward. Push your arms down so that you are in a Push-Up position.

2) Keeping your elbows stationary, slowly raise your hands towards the ceiling until they are fully extended. Hold this position for 3 seconds before slowly lowering them back to starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions.

Do wrist extensions

Wrist extension exercises can be a great way to strengthen your wrists for bench press. To do wrist extensions, place your palms on the bench and press your palms and fingertips toward the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then repeat.

Strengthen your squeeze

For starters, it will strengthen your wrists because you will be utilizing them to grip weights. When you lift weights, squeezing the barbell/dumbbell hard helps you lift heavier weights by activating more motor neurons.

Second, and maybe more importantly, it will correct your alignment automatically.

Raise your arm in front of your body while allowing your wrist to hang limp. Make a fist and grip it tight, as if you’re about to hit something–did you see how your limp wrist rocketed up, bringing the back of your hand parallel to the rest of your forearm?

That is what proper alignment entails.

Curl your wrist

The wrist can move in two directions: flexion and extension. When your palm slides closer to your inner forearm, this is called flexion. When the back of your hand goes closer to your outside forearm, this is called extension.

Flexion is a key ingredient in good alignment, thus it gets a lot of attention while strength training. The problem is that if your wrists hurt, it could be because you’re out of alignment. If this is the case, you’ll need to put in some extra effort to get your wrists to catch up.

Wrist curls are easy to do. Grab a dumbbell (a soup can will suffice), raise your hand to the heavens, and relax your wrist so it hangs. Curl the dumbbell up to the sky, but only the hand–not the entire arm–must move. You’ve successfully completed a wrist curl. To support your arm, resting your forearm on a bench or counter can help.

Make use of a wrist roller

Wrist rollers are great because they allow you to flex and extend your wrists at the same time. They are, however, not as common as dumbbells or soup cans. If you perform a fast Google search for DIY instructions, you can make one, but don’t.

A wrist roller works by twisting a rope around a pipe in your hands to lift a weight. Wrist extension is worked as it rolls towards you. Wrist flexion is worked as you roll it away. Do both, and try to keep the lowering portion under control for the optimum workout.

How to Build Wrist Strength for Bench Press review

If I really push myself, I can handle 40 pounds on each side of the barbell and perform 2-3 sets of 5 reps each, however I notice that my wrists bend inward and I’m constantly afraid that the weight will collapse on my chest / throat because they’ll crack.

Bench Pressing Causes Wrist Pain for 5 Reasons

1. Instead of resting the bar on your palm, rest it on your fingers.

When bench pressing, placing the bar too high on the hand might cause wrist strain.

As you lower the bar to your chest and then raise it, your hand should act as a platform.

You can’t grab it from the top of your hand because you cock back your wrist (stretch it), which prevents it from being in a neutral position aligned with your forearms.

As a result, some of the force from the bar is transferred to your wrists rather than your chest (which is what you’re truly working out in a bench press). This is what creates soreness.

2. Using a thumbless grip or a couple fingers to grab the bar

After you’ve put the bar correctly on the heels of your hands, wrap all of your fingers around it in the starting position.
In strength training with free weights, there is no thumbless grip save for the squat. Because you are the one moving in the squat, the grip is thumbless (not the bar).
The entire hand (including the thumb) assists to secure the bar during a bench press, not only for safety (to prevent the bar from falling on your chin/neck), but also for lifting efficiency.
You can’t fully lock your wrist by not holding the bar with your entire hand, which prevents you from transmitting your lifting force to your chest (which is why you’re doing a bench press) and upper extremities (which help you move efficiently).

3. When you grab the bar, your wrists are too far back.

If your wrists aren’t in a neutral posture, some of the force from the bar will be distributed unevenly across your wrist, causing pain.

4. Your grasp on the bar is too wide.

Grip width is, to some extent, a matter of personal preference; nevertheless, when the bar is on the chest, the best range of motion is attained when your forearms are in a vertical posture (shoulder width or slightly wider than shoulder-width apart).
The bar doesn’t go as far with a wider grip, and it locks out before the triceps have done much work, so the pecs (chest muscles) and deltoids (muscles on the top of your shoulder) wind up performing the majority of the effort.

5. You’re employing an excessively hefty weight.

The muscles in your hand and forearm may not be strong enough to stabilize the wrist position if the weight is too heavy, which can cause pain.
Your hand and forearm muscles will strengthen over time, supporting the wrist joint, but this will require several weeks or months of bench press training.

F.A.Q How to strengthen wrists for bench press:

How can I make my wrists stronger for lifting?

Bench pressing is a great exercise for strengthening the wrists, but there are a few things you can do to make the process easier. First, make sure you have a good grip on the barbell. Wrist flexibility is key for bench pressing, so try to get as close to neutral wrist position as possible when gripping the bar. Second, use your leg muscles to help push off of the bench and into the lift. This will help activate your shoulder girdle and core muscles and increase your bench press strength. Finally, don’t forget about your back! Bench pressing puts a lot of stress on your spine, so be sure to brace yourself against the bench with your abdominal muscles and shoulders lifted off of the ground.

How can I strengthen my weak wrists?

There are a few things that you can do to strengthen your wrists while benching. The first is to make sure that you are using the correct form when benching. Make sure that your shoulder and arm are in a straight line from the top of the lift all the way down to the floor, and that you are squeezing your shoulder blades together at all times. Second, you can try using a wrist brace or weightlifting gloves to help support your wrists during heavy sets. Finally, make sure to rest and stretch your wrists after every workout so they remain healthy.

Do fist push ups strengthen wrists?

1. Fist push ups are a great exercise for strengthening the wrists because they require you to use your entire bodyweight to resist gravity. This is a great exercise for building strength and endurance in the wrist, as well as improving coordination and balance.

2. If you are looking to strengthen your wrists for bench press, fist pushups are a great way to start. Not only will they help improve your strength and coordination, but they will also help improve your overall bench press technique.


Follow these exercises and techniques to strengthen your wrists and improve your bench press performance!

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Field John

If you are an avid believer in health and fitness and want to do something for your team, I can help. As the founder of Field Goals Fitness, I lead a collective of health and fitness professionals dedicated to helping Australians lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. With a warm, friendly, and supportive approach that gets results, I enjoy helping individuals & organisations achieve sustainable success with their health and fitness goals. Certifying as a Personal Trainer in 2009, was a turning point in my life. I had spent 14 years in the corporate world in Business Development roles and decided to take all that I had learnt in sales and marketing and start my own business.

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