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Knuckle Push-Ups. Strengthen Your Wrists Properly

Knuckle push-ups are often used for staging punches in martial arts. The exercise perfectly strengthens the hands, hardens the striking surface of the fists, and develops general muscular strength and endurance. Even if you don’t practice martial arts, this type of push-up will allow you to diversify your workouts and get more range of motion than usual push-ups. The exercise is easy to learn if you pay proper attention to the technique.

What is this exercise for?

Knuckle push-ups are somewhat more difficult than regular push-ups. They are used when regular ones become ineffective.

The exercise provides the following benefits:

  • Strengthening the articular-ligamentous apparatus of the hands

  • Fastening the striking surface of the fist, stabilizing its position when hitting

  • Reduces pain sensitivity of the knuckles

  • Knuckle push-ups give a good load to the pectoralis major muscles and triceps. The increased range of motion allows you to train muscles more efficiently. The emphasis of the load can be shifted depending on the position of the hands

  • Increases the explosive strength of muscles and their endurance

  • Trains balance and coordination of muscle work

Since the exercise exerts a significant load on the tendons of the hands and joints of the fingers, performing it without proper preparation will be very traumatic. The benefit, in such case, is questionable.

First of all, you should learn how to properly push up using a soft surface, such as a gymnastic mat or rug

To perform the movement correctly, you should gradually increase the load:

  • First, do the exercise with an emphasis on your knees, after adaptation, connect your toes

  • Use a rug, mat, or another soft surface until the skin is rough enough

Exercise technique

Most of the nuances work here as well. Place your fists on the floor correctly. You need to use the striking surface, namely the index and middle fingers. The nameless one can also be partially involved, it all depends on the structure of the hand.

Fist knuckles

Follow this pattern:

1Lie on the floor. You can push your toes against the wall to prevent slipping. Place your fists on either side of the body parallel or perpendicular to the body

2As you exhale, push yourself upward with effort. At the same time, the body is straight and is in line with the legs, the abdominal muscles are tense

3As you inhale, gently lower yourself to almost the floor. There should be about five centimeters between the floor and the chest

The number of repetitions and sets per exercise depends on your goals. When endurance training, to strengthen ligaments and joints, do as many reps as possible in 3-4 sets.

If you want to achieve maximum muscle growth, it is better to use regular push-ups with the additional load. Alternatively, you can use a foot bench. But it can only be used by experienced athletes with trained ligaments and joints. The number of reps, in this case, should be reduced to 8 – 12.

Depending on the position of the hand and the width of the grip, you can use certain muscles as much as possible:

  • With the parallel position of the fists, (when the thumbs are directed forward, and the elbows are pressed to the sides when moving), the emphasis of the load falls on the triceps or triceps muscles of the shoulder

  • When you use a wide grip and place your fists with your thumbs inward, your elbows are pulled apart. In such case, the pectoral muscles work. At the bottom, you should feel their stretch

  • Expanding your hands with your thumbs outward will force your biceps to work

The benefits of the exercise will be maximized by alternating hand positions periodically.

If you want to develop your pectoral muscles, you can try different push-ups. You can increase the range of motion with less stress on the hands.

Push-up variations

Knuckle push-ups can be varied in intensity:

  • One repetition per breathing cycle (ascent – exhale, descent – inhale)

  • Increase the tempo with the maximum number of repetitions per cycle

  • Use static pauses. Pause for several breathing cycles at the moment of the greatest muscle tension

You can also use these tricks:

  • Change fists to palms or fingers

  • Do push-ups on the fist of one hand

  • Use the Thai leg lift technique. When lifting the body, lower your leg sharply, imparting an impulse to the movement

Use the exercise only after you have learned how to do the basic variation correctly. Take your time, as progress comes gradually. To get started, try just standing on your fists without discomfort.

I'm a professional fitness instructor and nutritionist, runner, husband and father. I do my best in providing the right guidance when it comes to the grounds of sexual health, nutrition and common fitness.

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