A question from one of the Foxes:
“I want to start weight training but my hands and wrists aren’t strong enough to hold a barbell or do press-ups properly. What can I do to help?”
That’s a really good question and a bit of a chicken and egg situation. You want to weight train but find it difficult using weights!
So I’m starting a series of back-to-basics blog posts and the first topic is getting stronger hands and wrists to cope with holding weights. As a bonus, getting a stronger grip helps with everyday life too! No jar will remain unopened 🙂
A quick note – if you have medical conditions that make weight training difficult, for example arthritis, please see a GP for guidance.
Ladies, we don’t want to get calluses when lifting weights but we also don’t want to wear gloves. They’re too thick and you lose your grip strength. You can find “minimal weight lifting gloves” which work pretty well. I use Bear Grips, they’re pads that slip onto hands and they work great: enough padding but no fabric between your fingers. After training moisturise your hands, especially the pads at the base of your fingers. This is where calluses may form. Moisturising keeps them soft and supple.
Strengthen your paws.
Your grip strength is the key to lifting weights. The easiest way to start is to find a fairly heavy weight, but one you can pick up, and hold it for time. I started off struggling with a 16kg kettlebell but in a few months, with some training, now use a 40kg kettlebell! Hold it for as long as you can, be it 2 seconds or 5, rest, then repeat. I do this almost daily whilst brushing my teeth. If you don’t have kettlebells or weights, carry your shopping to your car rather than pushing a trolley. Remember: strong braced core and neutral back apply AT ALL TIMES when lifting anything heavier than your handbag AND when putting it down!
Stretch your wrists.
If you’re at a keyboard all day you probably have very tight wrists and forearms. Here’s a simple stretch for these problem areas.
Put your hands together in front of your chest as if praying. Now, keeping your elbows up, try and push your wrists down as far as is comfortable. Aim to get down to navel level. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
Now put the back of your hands together, again at chest level. This time bring the back of your wrists up to your chin whilst dropping your elbows. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
Strengthening your hands happens quickly, so a little bit of perseverance is all you need!