Weak Wrists Stopping You From Push-ups? How To Strengthen Your Wrists

Happy Wednesday! This week has been awesome so far, as you can see there have been quite a few changes made to Lifting Revolution.

What do you think of the new look? 

I have to say, I am very proud of my husband and our computer guy. Dan designed it and our awesome computer guy made it happen.

Also, a few days ago I asked you guys what you like better, weight training posts or running posts? I received some great feedback and I hope that I hit on what you want! It seems that while you guys like running tips, you really love strength training tips so I am going to put my weight training gloves on and get to work… starting today.

What do the following exercises have in common:



Mt Climbers

mt climbers for women


dips for women

They all place a lot of pressure on the wrists, an area that for a lot of women is well, weak.

I can’t tell you how many of my clients complain about their wrists being sore after doing exercises like those above. So I am going to guess that they are not alone. If you’re new to exercising then chances are you’ll experience some sore/tight wrists as well.

What can you do about them?

Just like anything else… you have to condition yourself to handle the pressure.

The worst thing you can do if you experience wrist tenderness is to avoid doing any wrist intensive exercises. You need to make them strong, after all… what would happen if you fell and placed your hand out? You might end up with a cast (yup, been there, done that)!

And seriously, avoiding these great moves will only hurt you in the long run because they are fabulous!

how to strengthen wrists

How To Strengthen Wrists For Push-ups & Other Exercises

Suck it up. 

I know it’s tough love, but the only way to make them stronger is to actually do the exercises. I am not suggesting you spend 30 minutes doing nothing but push-ups, burpees, and dips however, adding 2-4 sets into your workout will help condition them. You get stronger, by actually doing the moves.

Start With An Incline. 

If it bothers you to do a set of push-ups to the point where you can’t perform them correctly, then no biggie. Start off by placing your hands on a bench, chair, or even on the wall (walk feet about 3-fee away). By having your body at an angle, you will be placing less weight (and pressure) on the wrist. With time, try to alternate between doing sets on the ground and sets with an incline.



Mindless Strengthening. 

When I was a gymnast, wrist training was a big deal. After all, you can’t exactly spring off your hands or hold handstands if you have pathetic weak wrists. I have always had INCREDIBLY small wrists so this was actually an issue for me. Until I discovered soup…


My coaches gave me training homework which I give to my clients… grab a can of soup in each hand and during commercials sit on the couch and do wrist curls.

Hold the cans, palms facing up, elbows at a 90-degree angle and curl the cans in towards you, just rolling the wrist.

Easy enough right?

It’s really easy to just skip out on body weight moves like this or to grab athletic tape and tape the wrists, but seriously neither of those are going to benefit you in the long run. Unless you have actual issues, taping the wrist is going to make the body feel as if it doesn’t need to get stronger so you’ll continue to have to rely on it.

Challenge Time

I haven’t given a challenge in a REALLY long time and I think we’re long overdue. So… here it is, between now and Friday (2 Days), I challenge you to do a total of 100 push-ups (can be on knees) and 200 mountain climbers.

Can you do it? Do you accept my challenge? 

Make sure to let me know in the comments below when you complete it!

– Do you ever suffer from wrist pain during workouts?
– What’s your favorite college team? 

Now is that the most random question ever, or what? I ask because I was hanging out with my grandmother yesterday and found some old photos. I couldn’t help but to bust out laughing when I cam across this picture of my brother and uncle… wearing Clemson shirts! My brother is still a Clemson fan but my uncle has since left us to favor Carolina Gamecocks (BIG rivals).


I never knew he was a Clemson guy back in the day! Go C-L-E-M-S-O-N. I do have to admit, my bro was quite a cute kiddo!


  • April

    I’m totally up for the Push-Up Challenge and Mtn. Climbers. I completed 10 “Marine” Pushups which is counted as 1,2,3-1; 1,2,3-2, thanks to my husband. That count sucks.. lol SO, technically I did 30!

    • Look at you! You’re on fire!

  • I’ll take your challenge! Sounds fun 🙂 Does your computer guy take side jobs? I need someone to fix my blog (finally)

    • I’ll ask Dan for his contact info and email it to you.

  • I’ll sure try this tips. I hope I can make it.

    Thank you Taylor for these awesome tips.

  • Marisa

    This is what I needed. My wrists are a little soar from the push ups at bootcamp last night. I am sitting at my desk doing wrist curls with a can of soup. I feel like the lady from the Progresso Soup commercials….”Can Curls are Really Cool”. Now, I hope my boss does not walk in. 🙂

    • That’s hilarious! Curl those soups!

    • sonja wells

      Excellent article and excellent information. Your articles are very good and informational but this hit home for me! Keep up the good work.
      God Bless,

  • Keen on exercise

    I’m up for the challenge. Great way to start of training for my first 5k!

    • Yes it is! Good luck on your 5K, when is it?

      • Angela Keen

        My 5k is on April 13 and I am very excited! BTW I was able to complete the challenge–and WOW those mountain climbers are tough!

        • Great job on the challenge! And best of luck on the run, you’ll have to let me know how it goes!

  • Thank you! My wrists are AWFUL!!! same as grib… really really bad grib 🙁

    • You can get the stronger! 🙂 We have these things called GripZ and they are killer at helping out!

  • Tori

    Ahhh I need this! I don’t notice wrist pain during pushups, but during yoga! They kill me!

  • This is my first time on your blog, so I don’t know what it used to look like — but what you’ve got right now looks great!! I’ve had surgery on my right wrist to remove a ganglion cyst (turns out you can get a cyst if you repeatedly sprain a joint – ouch!), and I used to have a TON of wrist pain during push ups. You are right though, you just have to build the strength up. Good advice!

    • Thanks for reading Susan! That stinks about the cyst, I have had several people in my life get them, no fun at all! Keep building the strength! 🙂

  • Kailtyn’s mom

    Ten years after putting my running shoes away for several life changes, I put on a fresh pair tonight and started anew. thanks for the advice on the wrist weakness; it was the first piece of information I looked up tonight after attempting push ups. I’ll put some soup cans next to the tv remote!

    • Yay! Congrats on starting over. Just take baby steps and you’ll do great!

  • Elle

    I cannot believe I found your site! I broke my left wrist at the end of October, right before Hurricane Sandy. Long story short, I had no Orthopedic Surgeon in Manhattan that specialized in wrists. I found a fantastic one at The Hospital For Joint Diseases, part of NYU/Langone University Hospital. But before I could get an appt. the Sandy did her damage, including wiping out most of NYU, and bringing everything to a screaching halt. I was very lucky, considering all the suffering that Sandy has caused. But by the time I got to the Surgeon, it became a whole long deal, because it had started to heal, incorrectly, and had to be rebroken and have a plate and pins put in. On my first follow-up visit, the Surgeon told me he was advised by the reviewing department of Radiology that they “saw” something on my right wrist. So i left with a cast on my left wrist that matched the one on my right. I am a paralegal/administrative asst which means I type for a living. Although I became creative, and could get dressed, start to finish, including makeup in only 3 1/2 hrs (no joke), I have not been able to work in almost a year. I went to rehab for 2 days and decided to research and do it myself. The left wrist was ready to start in Jan, but I had the cast on my right for an other 2 months. So I have been typing 4-5 hours a day, chopping onions precisely with a knife, as Chef Morimoto did, when he had a similar accident a few years ago. Now, I want to get back to my pilates, yoga and strength work outs, as I really am SICK of walking all over the city, as my only exercise. My wrists are KILLING me. I have just started doing push-ups this week, and until I read this article, I was really worried that I was doing damage because they really hurt. But my doctor told me I could do anything I wanted, except fall again lol.

    Thank you for this!! I am starting today – NOW – and I will let you know how things are going!!!


    • Please keep me posted! I am excited for you.

  • MaryJ

    Thank you for these tips. I am a pear body shape and have a very weak upper body. I experience pain in my wrists and sometimes my wrists even buckle whenever I try to do push ups or anything that requires me to support my weight with my hands. I’m going to give the soup cans a try, I hope it works. I’m very tired of having a weak upper body.

  • shon

    im usually always the weakest kid in class so its easy to get picked on so I figured the best way to stop getting picked on is to play a sport I love basketball but I never had strength to get through two push ups {yikes and im 12} in effort to increase arm strength I looked up arm strengthening exercises but your blog has inspired me a lot I am about to try to do my best in those exercises wish me luck!!

    • Oh good Shon! Best of luck!

  • I actually actively sought out the answer to this question. I started out with problems in my left wrist – my wrists had always been weak, but about 6 years ago I got an overuse injury on my left wrist and got a ganglion cyst (which popped).

    Now it’s 6 years later, and I still have pain in that wrist when I put pressure on it at a 90 degree angle. And I’m starting to get pain in my right one too now that I’m working out a lot more at home (I’m pretty fit, but I had always just been an Irish dancer, and I had never, ever used my arms. Recently I started going to the gym and doing more home fitness to try to build some upper body strength.)

    It’s so frustrating when you get to the middle of a good workout and you’re really pushing, and you just can’t keep doing pushups or burpees because your wrist joint is screaming in pain. I’ve actually gone back to the karate way of doing pushups on my knuckles.

    Definitely going to try the soup can trick, but I’m afraid to push through when it hurts because I don’t want to develop a stress/overuse injury.

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  • aaron t

    I did 210 PU today. Last month i accomplished my goal of 5000. This month however, I had to decrease my goal to 3000 because my wrists bother me still and I dont want to overdo it. Trying to tough it out but I admit I did a lot of those PU with the harbinger gloves with wrist wrap. How long(ish) before my wrists toughen up?

  • Michelle

    Nice article. I find as well that holding an exercise band between my hands while doing pushups gives my wrists greater stability to do more.

  • Mz M

    Good info! Thank you

  • Sharonacles

    Does this apply even if you have carpal tunnel? Sometimes I’ll get sharp stabbing pains in my wrists and then they’ll go weak all of a sudden and any tiny movement hurts, such as bending them, lifting even something light or making a fist. It can happen just from holding a heavy bag. I really don’t think pushups, etc would be a great idea for me right now. But maybe if I modified them at an incline it might be ok? I think I will try the soup can thing because that seems like the least strenuous, but I’m afraid I might make it worse. :/

  • Bri Boulware

    Just some info ma’am… you have a typo within your article.
    It says “I couldn’t help but to bust out laughing when I cam across this picture of my brother and uncle… wearing Clemson shirts!”. “Cam” should be “came”. That is all.

    Have a wonderful day!

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  • HNR

    Suck it up is terrible advice when used as a blanket statement. There can be a variety of reasons for weak wrists and it can make the condition worse to push a painful wrist.

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