Wrist curls are a forearm-strengthening exercise. While you don't want Popeye-sized forearms, you do want arms that are proportional from the biceps down to your wrists. Choosing the right amount of weight for your wrist curls will give you the look and strength you desire, without wondering if you'll still be able to fit into your favorite long-sleeved shirt.
The muscles in your forearms are known as wrist flexors and wrist extensors. The flexors bring your palms closer to the underside of your forearms, while the extensors bring the backs of your hands closer to the top side of your forearms. Wrist curls move your hands in both ways to strengthen both sets of muscles.
The forearm muscles are made for endurance types of activities. They help you carry grocery bags, play sports or do other things such as handwriting and stirring batter. You train these muscles for endurance by using a higher number of repetitions, such as 12 to 15. When you use a higher number of reps with wrist curls, you use a lighter amount of weight.
The American College of Sports Medicine reminds that your weight amount is one that makes your muscles feel fatigued. The final two repetitions of each set of wrist curls should be challenging. If you feel you can do another 10 to 15 curls right away, without a minute of rest, you need a heavier amount of weight. The ideal amount of weight depends on your fitness level. Begin your wrist curls with a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell. If you're able to easily complete three sets of 15 curls, increase the amount of weight slightly. For example, increase from 3 to 5 pounds, or from 5 to 8 pounds.
The wrist curl exercise is best when you use a dumbbell for equal training on both arms. Support your forearms on a bench, ball or your thighs and hold onto a dumbbell in each hand. With palms facing up, flex your wrists to raise your fingers toward the sky. Then, lower the weight and point your fingers toward the ground. After you complete one set, flip over your hands and perform the exercise for the wrist extensors.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.