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The Best Biceps Workout for Bad Wrists

author image Krista Sheehan
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.
The Best Biceps Workout for Bad Wrists
A man is helping a woman with dumbbell curls. Photo Credit dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

Biceps workouts often involve holding heavy dumbbells or barbells or lifting heavy weights on a cable exercise machine. Although these exercises can be very effective for toning and building the upper arm muscles, they can be somewhat dangerous for the wrists. If you have bad wrists -- whether from an injury or medical condition -- adopt a biceps workout routine using exercises that are slightly easier on the wrists.

Hammer Curls

Hammer curls tend to be easier on the wrists since they allow the wrists to remain in a neutral position throughout the exercise. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and position yourself in either a sitting or standing position. Allow your arms to hang at your sides, palms facing your inner thighs. Keeping your back straight, flex your left elbow and curl the dumbbell toward your shoulder. Once your elbow reaches a 45-degree angle, lower the weight back to starting position. Repeat the hammer curl with the right arm. Continue alternating arms until you have completed your repetitions. Throughout the entire exercise, keep your wrists in a neutral position, facing the body.

Reverse Curls

Reverse dumbbell and barbell curls are similar to a traditional bicep curls, yet they require a pronated grip instead of a supinated grip. With this type of grip, your wrists are less likely to hyperextend during the exercise. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand or hold a barbell in both hands and allow your arms to hang in front of your body. Your palms should be facing the front of your thighs. Keeping the back and shoulders stationary, bend both elbows and curl the dumbbells up to shoulder level. In the fully contracted position, your palms should be facing away from your body. Hold the contraction for a moment and then slowly lower back to starting position. Do not allow your wrists to bend during the exercise.

Chin-Ups and Pull-Ups

Although they ultimately require the same type of movement, chin-ups and pull-ups differ in terms of hand placement. A chin-up is performed with a pronated grip, when the palms face down, and a pull-up is performed with either a supinated grip, when the palms face you, or a semi-supinated grip, when the palms face each other. If you have bad wrists, opt for the medium parallel-grip chin-ups, which place significantly less stress on the wrists, elbows and shoulders than traditional chin-ups. For this position, your palms are facing each other and roughly 22 to 24 inches apart. Narrow pronated pull-ups are also a good biceps exercise for people with bad wrists, since the required grip is generally quite easy on the wrists. In this position, the hands are approximately 4 to 6 inches apart with the palms facing down. Assisted pull-ups are another option if you have weak wrists. Use an assisted machine that requires you to either stand on a bar or kneel on a platform to relieve some weight. Use a training partner to pull your feet up and hold them if you don't have an assisted machine available.


Nearly all biceps workouts place at least a small amount of stress on the wrists. Although some exercises tend to be easier on the wrists than many others, there are a variety of safety tips you can follow to avoid wrist injury during any type of bicep exercise. Avoid using weights that are too heavy for you. As you initiate a weightlifting routine, start with lighter weights and gradually work your way up to heavier weights. Throughout all exercises, keep a straight line from your elbow to your knuckles. Do not allow your wrist to bend during the exercise, as this puts excess strain on the delicate muscles and ligaments.

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