The video below includes a brief sequence of pushups that I use to prep my hands and wrists for more rigorous work. I typically perform a few sets before progressing towards more difficult hand or wrist training activities. I have used this sequence along with a few others for several years and have always found it useful for stretching and warm-up purposes.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I was a young fighter who was sidelined with hand and wrist injuries. At the time, I didn’t know anything about hand training so it wasn’t something I did. As a result, wrapping my hands became a complex process. My trainer would always need extra time to perform the job. Once they were wrapped and taped, I still had to be cautious with my hands. With all the fractures and sprains, I always felt like I was rolling the dice when I punched.
Twenty years later and my hands have never felt better. I now take hand and wrist training seriously; not only for myself but more importantly for the fighters I train. If I can prevent even one athlete from making the same mistakes I made, I will be grateful beyond words.
Ironically, since posting the brief demonstration above, I don’t think I’ve ever read so many emails that have questioned the safety of an exercise. I’ve read everything from jokes that my wrists will snap to statements that it is irresponsible to recommend these exercises. Based on the volume of such comments, I believe it is a useful topic to discuss. The last thing I want is for someone to be dissuaded from an exercise based on an uninformed opinion.
To begin, it is difficult to comment on an exercise that you have never attempted or are unable to perform. Following this brief pushup demonstration, I read several comments about what would happen if someone were to attempt these pushups. Essentially, opinions were formed without hands on experience.
Contrary to what some may believe at first glance, these pushup variations are not very difficult. Knuckle pushups are obviously the easiest of the three. Finger pushups may be difficult to those who have never tried them, but certainly aren’t a high level skill. With a consistent and patient approach, most athletes can perform them with relative ease. As for the wrist pushups, they may look intimidating at first, but are really just a display of flexibility. Wrist flexibility often develops rapidly. By simply starting from the knees (and bending at the waist if necessary), it is not difficult to progress to this variation.
Unfortunately, many athletes neglect wrist strength and flexibility entirely. I couldn’t tell you how many fighters I’ve seen jam and injure their wrists by landing a hook slightly off target. Such injuries would be much less frequent if more athletes took the time to adequately develop the hands and wrists.
Many years ago, I needed a precise wrap and tape job before I’d even think about hitting the bag. Today, I can hit a heavy bag without wraps and have absolutely no problems. And while these pushup variations are just a small part of my hand training, to suggest that they are dangerous does nothing but add to the abundance of misinformation that taints the internet today.
Rather than worrying about what would be dangerous if you tried it, perhaps you should focus your safety concerns towards more pressing matters. For example, texting about the dangers of exercise while driving could likely benefit from your attention.
Be safe out there!
“What you don’t understand you can make mean anything.” – Chuck Palahniuk