Exercises for Handbells

Handbells can get heavy quickly if your muscles aren't prepared.
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Handbells are most commonly seen during musical religious celebrations, such as the Christmas holidays. But preparing for a handbell performance takes months of practice. Handbells can range from about 7 ounces to nearly 19 pounds, so you need a significant amount of forearm, wrist, arm and upper-body strength to hold and manipulate a bell during a long practice or performance.

Warm Up

Warm up your upper body with dynamic stretching. Use large arm circles forward and backward to warm up your back and shoulders for about two minutes. Hold your arms out in front of you and rotate your hands in wrist circles. Switch directions after about one minute.

Wrists and Forearms

Your wrists and forearms can get a strong workout while you're playing the handbells, as you must flick your wrist quickly to make the bells ring properly. Perform wrist curls by resting your forearm on your thigh and lifting a light dumbbell, such as 2 pounds, up and down with your palm up. Do two sets of 10, then turn your hand over so the palm faces down and do two more sets. Increase the weight gradually. To work out your wrist and forearm muscles throughout the day, squeeze a firm stress ball, holding the squeeze for three seconds and repeat for as many repetitions as comfortable.


Biceps curls are an efficient way to strengthen your biceps muscles. Rest the back of your upper arm, your triceps area, on your thigh when you're sitting down. Hold a medium weight, such as 8 to 12 pounds, in your hand with your palm up and lift slowly toward your shoulder. Lower until your elbow is straight, then lift again for 10 repetitions.

Upper Body

To work your shoulders, upper back and chest -- all muscles used when manipulating handbells -- try pushups. Position yourself on the floor face down with your arms extended so only your hands and toes are touching the floor. Your body should make a straight line from your neck to your ankles and your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows and lower your body, keeping it straight, then push straight up. Start with one set of five and build up to two sets of 10. If the pushups are too difficult in the beginning, rest on your knees instead of your toes, but keep your body straight without bending at the waist.

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