Small Wrists & Hands in Bodybuilding

In bodybuilding, you are judged on your muscle size, definition, and overall shape and appearance. Every aspect of your physique is important, even your wrists and hands. While having small wrists and hands is something that could hinder your bodybuilding prospects, in certain circumstances, it may be advantageous.

A bodybuilder with a strong back is doing lateral pull downs. (Image: milancavic/iStock/Getty Images)

Wrist and Arm size

The size of your wrists and hands is a good indicator of how big your arms can potentially get, and having small wrists and hands may limit your arm size. Former champion bodybuilder Steve Reeves designed his own system for calculating the perfect proportions for bodybuilding, and found that arm size should be around 252 percent of wrist size. While this may be the ideal proportion in his view, if you have 5.5-inch wrists, your arms will measure less than 14 inches, which won't be competitive in any level of bodybuilding.

Strength

While bodybuilding is not judged on strength levels, to get bigger you need to constantly strive to lift heavier weights in the gym. Heavy weight training can increase your levels of muscle-building hormones and activate your nervous system to build more muscle. According to strength coach Christian Thibaudeau, having small wrists and hands can have a negative impact on your strength levels. Lifts that require good grip strength, such as deadlifts, chinups and the Olympic lifts can all be compromised if your wrists and hands are small and weak.

Appearance

Bodybuilding is not all about size; the judges also consider proportion and symmetry when choosing their winners. If you do manage to build the size of your arm muscles to a good standard with small wrists and hands, this will make your arms appear larger, which may give you an advantage over other competitors.

Wrist and Hand Exercises

You don't have a huge amount of muscle on your wrists and hands, so it is difficult to build them up, but with the right training you can still improve their size. Exercises such as wrist curls and extensions, along with grip work can increase the size of your wrist and hand muscles. Charles Poliquin, owner of the Poliquin Performance Center for elite athletes, advises that you do all your curling exercises, along with some of your other upper-body exercises, with thick-handled barbells and dumbbells, to give your hand and wrist muscles a real test.

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