As a professional boxing coach, I’m always looking for convenient and effective ways to strengthen the hands and wrists. Lower arm development is a topic that’s near and dear to me as I was once a young fighter who was plagued by hand and wrist problems. At the time, I was ignorant as to how I could strengthen the hands and wrists to avoid repeated injuries. Now as a coach, I do everything I can to prevent others from suffering the same pain and frustration that I once did. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
With that in mind, today we will look at ring pushups for hand and wrist strength.
Ring Pushup Demonstration
First, you’ll find a brief demonstration of me performing pushups while gripping a pair of gymnastic rings. To perform this exercise, you must grip the rings tightly to avoid collapsing. Think of the hands squeezing hard, while the wrists remain strongly aligned (no bending).
Ring pushups have become quite popular with fighters. You can even see pound for pound great Vasyl Lomachenko working with the exercise here. It’s always nice to have an effective lower arm exercise that can be performed anywhere.
As for value, a fighter needs to have a tight fist when striking an opponent. The wrists must also be strong and rigid. Anyone who has ever misfired when throwing a hook to a bag or opponent knows exactly what I’m talking about. If the wrist bends on impact (palm towards forearm), you’ll experience a sharp pain that can leave you hesitant to throw the punch again.
If ring pushups are too difficult, try performing the exercise from the knees. You can even bend at the waist to alter how much weight bears down on the rings (adjust based on ability). And if the kneeling variation remains too difficult, begin with a static hold without the pushup.
Work with the exercise two or three days per week and you’ll make rapid gains. Contrary to what some believe, the exercise itself is not very difficult. It will not take long to become proficient with the movement. Yet, even after you’ve become proficient, you’ll always need to squeeze the hands tightly when performing reps. That alone makes the exercise useful. No fighter will outgrow the importance of making a tight first with a strongly aligned wrist.
When I first demoed ring pushups on social media, I saw a few comments that questioned the safety of the movement. Many of the comments sounded identical to those that I read after first demonstrating back of the hand pushups many years ago (see demo below and read about their safety here).
As with back of the hand pushups, ring pushups are not as intimating as they may initially appear. Many athletes have simply never taken any time to strengthen and improve the flexibility of the lower arms. As a result, anything outside of the norm creates the perception of danger.
That is not true. These exercises are safe for those who progress gradually and do not get carried away with elaborate variations.
I was once a young fighter who was plagued by hand and wrist injuries. At the time, I didn’t know anything about lower arm development. Looking back, I wish I knew what I know now. Unfortunately, I can’t change the past. What I can do however is possibly change the future of another fighter who is going through hand and wrist problems now.
Train the lower arms regularly. Don’t just wait for an injury to occur before trying to develop the hands and wrists. Be proactive, not reactive. You’re only as strong as your weakest link so make sure that link doesn’t exist at the end of your arms.
“Strong wrists are such an advantage that it is impossible to spend too much time at improving their shape and power.” – Earle Liederman