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Dumbbell wrist flexion technique and training tips

A simple yet effective forearm strengthening drill.
Written By  Liam Brown
Last Updated on 27th May 2021
Man doing the dumbbell wrist flexion exercise

The muscles of the forearm can become weak through inactivity and get injured from unnatural, repetitive motions. Of course, all muscles are important and any muscles, more or less, can become injured.

However, because we use the forearms for pretty much everything we do, the dumbbell wrist flexion has become a vital strengthening exercise for many people. And thankfully, once you learn the technique, it only takes a few minutes to get an effective workout for your wrists and surrounding muscles.

Pair it with the dumbbell wrist extension for the best results.

Dumbbell wrist flexion over a bench

Man doing the dumbbell wrist flexion over a bench

If you already go to a gym, then doing the dumbbell wrist flexion over a bench makes sense. I’ll also show you how to do it over a table and without any extra apparatus, but since most weight benches have padding, they’re going to be the most comfortable place to do this exercise.

Weight benches are the obvious choice. But you can also use any flat and stable surface.
  1. Hold a light dumbbell in one hand, and then place the top of your forearm on a weight bench.
  2. Allow your hand to hang off the edge.
  3. Bend your wrist until you feel a deep (but comfortable) stretch in your forearm.
  4. Bring the weight back up by flexing your wrist. Go beyond making your hand and forearm level for the strongest muscle contraction.
  5. Squeeze your forearms for a second at the top of the rep, and then lower the weight back down to begin your second rep.
  6. Do a total of 2-4 sets and shoot for around 10-15 reps each time.

Dumbbell wrist flexion on a table

A man performing a dumbbell wrist flexion over his desk

If you don’t like the hassle that comes with having a membership at a health club, then you can also do this exercise on a table (or a desk).

Also, the form is virtually the same. Just make sure that the table allows you to hang your hand off the edge so that you can actually get a full stretch.

  1. Sit upright in a chair and hold a dumbbell in your hand.
  2. Place your forearm on the table with a supinated palm (palm facing up).
  3. Lower the dumbbell towards the ground by bending your wrist.
  4. Descend until you feel a good stretch in your forearm.
  5. Come back up by flexing the underside of your forearm.
  6. Hold the contraction for a brief moment and then repeat for a total of 10-15 reps and 2-4 sets.

Partial dumbbell wrist flexion

The technique of this exercise is almost the same as the one above. But because the precise execution differs slightly, I wanted to give it its own section.

So, rather than hanging your hand/wrist off the edge of a table, desk, or bench, you’re going to leave your hand on the flat surface.

From there, curl the weight towards your forearm and then squeeze. As you can see, we’re not bending the wrist to get the stretch, which makes it a great rehabilitation exercise.

Dumbbell wrist flexion on your knee

A man doing a dumbbell wrist flexion over his knee

If you have a dumbbell and a few minutes to spare, then this exercise can noticeably improve your forearm and wrist strength.

Just don't forget to do some forearm extensor strengthening exercises to work the top muscles of your lower arms. Remember, the dumbbell wrist flexion mainly works the underside of the forearms.

  1. Hold a light dumbbell in one hand and then rest your forearm on your thigh.
  2. Let your hand hang over your knee.
  3. Lower the dumbbell towards the ground until you feel a nice forearm stretch.
  4. Bring the weight back by flexing your forearm.
  5. Repeat for 2-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

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Conclusion: How important is the dumbbell wrist flexion?

The importance of having strong wrists and forearms can’t be overstated. Besides walking, there aren't many tasks in our everyday lives that we can comfortably perform without the assistance of our lower arms.

Throw in the natural weakening of the muscles from inactivity (sorry, video games don't strengthen the forearms, kids), and more people than ever are struggling to develop the lower arm strength necessary to thrive in this world.

All you need to strengthen your lower arms is a flat surface, a dumbbell, and a spare 5 minutes.

Thankfully, gaining strength in your forearms and wrist isn't complicated. With a flat surface and a dumbbell, you can train muscles that most people neglect.

The technique is simple, too. Just be sure to start light to avoid injury and overexertion. Also, be mindful of bringing the dumbbell too far down during your reps, as this could stretch the muscles beyond their natural range of motion.

Other than that, the dumbbell wrist flexion is a great exercise, and I highly recommended including it in your resistance training routine.

References

  1. Lewis, O. J., Hamshere, R. J., & Bucknill, T. M. (1970). The anatomy of the wrist joint. Journal of Anatomy, 106(3), 539–552. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1233428/
  2. Quinn, E. (2020, January 16). Flexion Occurs When Your Muscle Contracts. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/flexion-definition-3120386
Liam Brown
Liam Brown has been coaching clients as a personal trainer for more than 12 years. Raised by his athlete mother and physiotherapist father, he understands the critical importance of learning the proper technique for both avoiding injury and building muscle.
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