Triceps Exercises That Don't Strain the Wrists

Keeping your wrists straight helps reduce wrist strain during triceps exercises.
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Your triceps muscle originates in three places near your shoulder -- two attachments on the humerus, or upper arm bone, and one on your scapula, or shoulder blade. Although the triceps does have some minimal involvement in shoulder extension, its primary function is extending or straightening your elbow. Unfortunately, some classic triceps exercises -- including pushups, which also work your chest -- bend your wrists at an uncomfortable, hyperextended angle.

Pushups and Bench Dips

You can adapt pushups and bench dips -- two body-weight exercises that work your triceps but also put your wrists in an uncomfortable position -- in order to lessen wrist discomfort. For pushups, simply grip a pair of pushup stands or hexagonal dumbbells that won’t roll beneath you; this allows you to keep your wrists completely straight during the movement, thus reducing wrist strain.

For bench dips, you’d normally rest your hands on the edge of a bench on either side of your body. You then scoot your body forward off the bench and do regular dips, using your feet and legs on the floor to support part of your weight. Again, this bends your wrists uncomfortably. Use a pair of dip bars instead with a sturdy box or bench to support your legs and lift your body high enough to reach the typical bench dip position.

Overhead Press

Most overhead press machines are designed to keep your wrists in neutral position throughout the exercise. But not every machine fits everybody, so if you experience wrist discomfort while using an overhead press machine, the solution may be as simple as switching to a machine that fits you better. Or, you might choose to do the same exercise with dumbbells instead.

Dumbbell Exercises

As long as you do them properly and use the correct amount of weight -- for general strength training, you should be able to lift the weight about 12 times -- most dumbbell exercises shouldn’t cause wrist strain. You can use dumbbells to duplicate any movement you’d do on a weight-training machine, less any wrist strain caused by improper positioning in the machine, or a machine that simple doesn't fit you.

Cable Pushdowns

If you experience wrist discomfort when doing cable pushdowns to work your triceps -- grasping a straight bar attached to an overhead pulley and extending your arms to push the bar down -- the solution may be as simple as switching to a V bar, which, with its inverted-V shape, allows your wrists to assume a more comfortable position.

Barbell Exercises

Some barbell exercises, such as barbell overhead triceps extensions or supine triceps extensions -- sometimes known as headbangers -- may torque your wrists at an uncomfortable angle. Many people are more comfortable with their forearms slightly externally rotated, or in other words rotated slightly thumbs up. Using an EZ-curl barbell, which follows symmetrical contours instead of being completely straight and allows you to adjust your hands to a comfortable grip angle, should eliminate or at least reduce wrist strain during these exercises.

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