Learn This Rule to Position Your Wrists the Right Way in Every Workout

Photo: Getty Images/jacoblund

Strength training requires a lot of mind-body awareness—especially if you're trying out more fancy compound movements. Without even knowing it, you could slip into bad form and often your wrists pay the price. When it comes to wrist position, trainer Charlee Atkins, CSCS, says that maintaining a neutral grip will keep injuries away.

"In general, the wrists should be ‘neutral’ for whatever grip you are using when it comes to holding weights," says Atkins. There are three types of grips: pronated (overhanded, like when you do a pull-up), supinated (underhanded, like when you're doing a bicep curl), or neutral (falls in between underhand overhand grips, like when you're doing a hammer curl). With each, your wrist position should remain neutral—"never cocked forward in flexion, or pulled back in extension," explains the trainer.

When you lose neutrality in the wrist joint, you'll usually feel it, says Atkins. "Most wrist errors happen in overhead dumbbell exercises such as the single-arm overhead shoulder press or dumbbell chest press," she says. "Most people try to hold the dumbbell like they are holding a restaurant tray, letting the wrist cock back slightly, so they can ‘push’ up. In training, your wrist should be straight, meaning knuckles to the sky."

The one exception is a front-rack barbell squat. Because your shoulders are helping to take the load, it's okay for your wrists to be extended so long as you have the wrist and shoulder mobility to feel okay supporting the bar.  "However, most people lack upper-body mobility and wrist mobility," says Atkins, "so instead of holding it like a 'clean,' you can cross the forearms with palms down, touching opposite shoulder with your hands."

To keep lifting weights for a long, long time, these tiny yet might form tweaks can make a major difference. So for strength's sake, pay attention to your wrist position.

You don't need any equipment for this workout:

Here's how to strengthen your wrists. Plus, why mobility is so important in all your workouts. 

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