Body-weight training remains popular because it improves functional strength and is really accessible—it requires no equipment and can occur anywhere. For various reasons, however, many participants can’t handle the load that body-weight training places on the wrists. While you can certainly offer plenty of modifications, such as doing pushups from the knees, why not focus on preparing the wrists during the warmup?
A good class beginning readies large muscles, but you should also consider the joints. Traditional movements address the knees and shoulders, but the wrists are often neglected. Rather than warming them up in isolation, incorporate wrist work into your traditional exercises. You’ll help participants be more mindful throughout the workout, bring blood flow to a small but vital joint and better prepare the wrists for planks, pushups, yoga, Pilates and animal flow-inspired movements. Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Step-Touches With Wavy Wrists
This simple movement mobilizes the wrist joint, brings awareness to the hand-to-forearm connection and boosts heart rate.
- Start off by doing traditional step-touches.
- Incorporate lateral arm raises and forward reaches.
- Continue doing step-touches but simultaneously interlace fingers and do “the wave,” in both directions, for 16 counts.
Squats With Wrist Flexion/Extension
This exercise warms up the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders. When you add wrist work, it warms up all the sagittal-plane joints.
- Begin with single-tempo squats using natural arm movements, then simply extend arms forward.
- Slow squats to half time; add wrist flexion (“paint the wall”) while lowering, then wrist extension (“carry the lantern”) while coming back to standing.
- Perform 8 reps, maintaining good squat form.
See also: Facilitated Flexibility
Plié Squat Pivots to Lunge With Wrist Rotations
This move not only warms up the wrists but also targets the leg muscles, biceps and shoulders.
- Stand in wide squat stance (plié).
- Pivot on right foot to lunge left; return to plié and pivot L foot to lunge R.
- Return to start and repeat, pulsing through each transition.
- Add arms with wrist rotations (“turn the knob/screw in the lightbulb”).
- Perform upper-body action with arms upward (W position) or in “tray hold” (half-way position of biceps curl). Externally and internally rotate shoulders.
- Aim for 4–8 reps each side.
Standing Overhead Halos
This exercise stretches the wrists and helps students connect to the scapular muscles.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Inhaling, lift arms, interlace fingers and invert palms to ceiling.
- Engage back muscles and pull arms back (behind head). Avoid overly tensing trapezius muscles.
- Maintain neutral pelvis as you imagine drawing “halos” around your head. Keep arms extended as much as possible.
- Mobilize upper back, chest and shoulders. Circle 8 times in one direction, then reverse.
- Gently release handgrip and roll wrists in circles as you lower arms.