Warm Up Your Wrists, Arms, and Shoulders With This Push-Up Routine

Wrists are an often overlooked part of warming up — and ironically, they are one of the most susceptible areas to damage in most strength sports and functional fitness. This gets amplified tremendously when you are sitting at a desk all day and typing away with your wrists in very restricted positions.

Here is a great way to attack the wrists in your warm-up. A rule of thumb about keeping your joints healthy: move them in as many different directions as possible to be prepared for the demands of life as well as the known demands you may be placing on them with your day to day training.

As with any routine you may start, begin with lower volume (1 rep of each) then progress after gauging how your body responds to it. A few gymnasts I have worked with on national levels do 100 of each of these each day. If any of these causes you pain, back off and consider seeking a medical professional to assess the cause. This routine can help identify imbalances in your body and can also be progressed to more advanced levels so consider tracking what you do just like you most likely do with your sport of choice.

I’ve also included the routine in the embedded video below.

1) Normal old push-up, fingers relatively straight forward (I like to focus on my index or middle finger).

You can spend many years working on perfecting the push-up, but my top rules are this:

A) start in a solid plank, body straight, hands under the shoulders
B) elbows in tight to the ribs on the descent
C) chest to the ground for a full range of motion
D) finish where you started
E) scale when needed, consider starting in a regular plank and controlling the descent – if you cannot push out of the bottom only then use your knees to assist. If this is uncomfortable for any reason, use a box or bench to change the angle of your body, thus lowering the demand of the pressing.

2) Fingers facing away from each other

3) Fingers facing back towards your body

4) Fingers facing each other

5) Wide hands

6) Narrow hands (aka diamond push-up)

7) Staggered hands (Right hand above your head and left hand down by your belly, then switch)

8) Palms facing up!!!

This one really opens up your wrists and forearms but even after years of practice you may still need to remain on your knees for these and just shift your weight around to mobilize. 

There are tons of other fun varieties to do like full fist push-ups or fingertip push-ups all the way to single finger pushups (but that’s a slow, steady progression that takes years, folks!).

Find a good routine that works for you and doesn’t take too much time, as long as you are not neglecting those very important wrist joints.

Disclaimer from the author: If you are experiencing even slight discomfort, I highly recommend consulting with a practitioner well versed in helping prevent or heal orthopedic injuries. Even if you have no pain, it is worth getting an annual orthopedic check-up to identify risk factors such as imbalances or links to your most common physical activity.