The Key to Perfect Planks and Mountain Climbers? These 2-Second Wrist Stretches
Watch how wrists are affecting your workouts in Charlee Atkins' latest video, here.
Looking at any roster of fitness classes, you'll likely see a number of buzzy target muscles listed out. "Abs and ass!" "Lower body burn!" "Arm attack!" are a few that come to mind. In all my years of working out, never have I ever seen a workout meant to specifically target wrists... which is interesting because they're actually the basis of pretty much every other fitness move you're ever going to do. Planks, push-ups, bicep curls, kettlebell swings... you get the picture.
Having strong, mobile wrists is a critical factor in any fitness routine, and particularly in two of the most popular fitness moves, which come up in pretty much every workout ever: the plank and the mountain climber. If your wrists are weak, the angle between your arm and hand will be all wonky, which means you 1) won't be getting the most out of your workout and 2) could potentially hurt yourself. You can always modify the moves, either by adding a dumbbell under your hands (so you're holding onto the weight instead of placing your palms flat on the floor), or roll up your mat under your hands to add some cushioning and take a little pressure off of the wrists.
Your best bet, though, is to take some time to actually strengthen them (yes, "wrist workouts" are a thing), which is why we tapped Le Sweat and Le Stretch founder Charlee Atkins to show us three ways to get them into peak performance.
1. For mobility: The first key part of making sure your wrists are strong and healthy is working on their mobility. You can do this move, called a CAR (or, "controlled articular rotation") at your desk, which means there is literally no excuse not to try it out. Place a cellphone on your forearm (this helps keep it flat and lifted), and circle your wrist five times to the left and five times to the right.
2. For flexibility: Next up, making sure your wrists are flexible. Get on the ground on your hands and knees with your palms down and fingers facing out in front of you. Oscillate your body forward and backwards (slowly!), easing into and out of a stretch through your forearms, and repeat 10 times. Next, flip your palms over so that the backs of your hands are on your mat and your fingers are facing your body, and repeat the same type of oscillations 10 more times.
3. For strength: Finally comes the actual "getting stronger" part of the series. Grab whatever dumbbell is comfortable for you (anywhere from no weight at all to five pounds), grip the weight in your palm, and curl your wrist toward your body with your palm facing up. Think of it as a bicep curl, but instead of moving your entire arm you're only moving your wrist. Flip your hand over and do the same thing, this time pushing your wrists downward.
Charlee Atkins is a big believer that the best way to get stronger is to put yourself through fitness tests—here's why. Plus, her 8-minute at-home core workout will leave your abs quaking.
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