11 Wrist Weight Exercises For Muscle & Cardio

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Many people just wear wrist weights around the house but there are other movements too. Discover some new wrist weight exercises to build muscle and improve cardio.

To get the most positive benefits out of these exercises you want to use the right weights. For cardiovascular exercises, a general recommendation is up to 2 pounds (0.91 kg) and potentially even 3 pounds (1.4 kg).

For resistance training exercises where the goal is growing muscles, you want to use a weight where you can do the exercise about 6 to 15 times in a row before getting too tired to continue.

As you can conclude, a good pair of adjustable wrist weights can be very useful. These allow you to switch weights for different exercises and increase the weight as you get stronger.

The demonstration videos below often use dumbbells but wrist weights come down to the same thing.

1. Wrist weight shoulder presses

Before giving the first movement a try, you preferably want to warm up your shoulders with something like arm circles. Especially if it is cold and it has been a while since you worked out.

Once you have done that, take the following steps to do a wrist weight shoulder press:

  1. Strap on the desired amount of weight.
  2. Stand upright and hold your hands with wrist weights at about shoulder height. Your elbows can point slightly more forward than just a horizontal line with your shoulders.
  3. Slowly move your hands up until your arms are slightly less than stretched.
  4. Lower your hands back into the position of step 3 in a controlled motion.

If you want to use wrist weights to tone your arms, shoulder presses can be a good place to start. You can also do this exercise seated to focus more on the main muscles.

This exercise can help you strengthen your deltoids (main shoulder muscle), triceps (back upper arm muscles), and trapezius (upper shoulder muscles).

One potential downside is that stronger individuals may find wrist weights a bit too light to see a lot of muscle growth and strength progress.

2. Wrist weight bent-over row

Bent-over rows typically require even more weight than shoulder presses. If wrist weights don’t do the job for you, you can also consider other equipment like resistance bands.

That being said, take the following steps to do a wrist weight bent-over row:

  1. Strap on the desired amount of weight and stand upright with your hands by your sides.
  2. Slightly fold your knees and tilt your upper body forward until it is at about a 45-degree angle to the ground. Let your arms with the wrist weights hang down to the ground for now.
  3. Bend your elbows and move your shoulder blades back until your hands reach your body. The goal is to mainly make your back muscles support this movement. Keep your arms close to your body, your spine in a straight line, and your feet in the same position during the movement.
  4. Lower your hands again to the position of step 3 in a controlled motion.

If they are heavy enough, wrist weights can work in bent-over rows to grow and strengthen muscles like your latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back muscle), middle and lower trapezius (upper back), biceps (front upper arms), and scapular muscles (shoulder blade muscles).

Individuals who want to reduce how much they slouch with their shoulders can benefit a lot from this wrist weight exercise.

Even if you don’t have the weight to grow and strengthen the muscles mentioned, improving the muscle endurance in these areas can offer benefits too.

3. Step aerobics moves with wrist weights

Step aerobics is a type of cardiovascular workout which means you want to use lighter wrist weights. If you are new to working out you can start with your body weight. Fit individuals can consider up to 2 or even 3 pounds per wrist.

That being said, this type of workout involves a variety of stepper exercises where you step on and off a raised platform in different ways. Usually with music in the background.

One of the benefits of step aerobics is that many people consider it a fun way to get in some extra movement. Additionally, it can be helpful to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular system.

The main benefits of wearing wrist weights are that you burn more calories, get your heart beating a bit faster, and improve arm muscle endurance just a bit more.

4. Wrist weight biceps curls

The next wrist weights exercise is another resistance training exercise with the goal of growing and strengthening the muscles targeted. Take the following steps to do a wrist weight bicep curl:

  1. Strap on the desired amount of weight and stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and hands by your sides. Your hand palms should face forward.
  2. Fold your arms at the elbows until you can’t go further. Keep your body and upper arms in the same place and don’t twist your lower arms during the movement.
  3. Lower your hands back into starting position in a controlled motion.

Bicep curls are, as the name implies, an exercise to isolate the bicep muscles (front upper arms). Since these muscles are not the strongest, your wrist weights may not have to be that heavy.

If you have issues keeping your body and upper arms still, you can consider sitting down and putting your arms on your legs. As you will feel, this can help to really isolate the bicep muscles.

5. Standing wrist weight tricep extension

Take the following steps to do a standing wrist weight tricep extension:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Let your arms with wrist weights hang by your sides for now.
  2. Raise your arms straight up with your hand palms facing inward.
  3. Fold your arms at the elbows as far as comfortable. Keep your body and upper arms in the same place and don’t twist your lower arms during the movement.
  4. Raise your hands with wrist weights back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.

Again, the name of the exercise gives the focus away. This wrist weight movement mainly works your triceps, the back upper arm muscles responsible for stretching your arms.

Make sure you keep your number of bicep curl and tricep extension repetitions about the same if you want to avoid muscle imbalances and the downsides that come with that.

6. Walking with wrist weights

Walking is not only something you do throughout the day. It can also be a convenient way to move more since it is so easy to fit into a busy schedule.

Many people also like it more than more intense workouts that can be uncomfortable on their knees and back.

You can combine your walks with wrist weights. This helps you burn more calories, gets your heart beating just a bit faster, and can improve arm muscle endurance to some extent. In short, you get just a bit more out of your walks.

One thing to keep in mind is that you can also overdo it. If you don’t work out a lot, you may want to start with very light wrist weights and initially only wear them for a few minutes.

As you get stronger and fitter you can consider slowly and safely adding weights and duration.

Lastly, while wrist weights do offer advantages, if you want to walk with external weights, a weighted vest is generally a better choice.

This type of equipment has more challenge potential and works your body in a more “natural” way.

7. Wrist weight shrug

Next, there is another resistance training wrist weight movements. Shrugs are typically done with relatively heavy weights so you may again need to consider adding other resistance too.

That being said, take the following steps to do a shoulder shrug:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Let your arms with wrist weights hang by your sides for now. Your hand palms should face your body. Let gravity do its work on your arms so they point downward. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
  2. Raise your shoulders as far as you can in a controlled manner.
  3. Slowly lower your shoulders again.

Shoulder shrugs do not look that impressive but this wrist weight exercise can be great to help you improve your upper trapezius, the muscles above your shoulders and next to your neck.

If you reach a point where your wrist weights are not enough to make the shrug challenging enough, you can switch to dumbbells, resistance bands, and even heavy grocery bags.

8. Wrist weight lateral raises

The lateral raise is often done with equipment like dumbbells, cables, or weight plates but you can certainly do it with the help of wrist weights too. Take the following steps to do the exercise with wrist weights:

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms with wrist weights hanging by your sides. Your hand palms should face your body.
  2. Slowly raise your hands out to the side until your hands are at about shoulder height. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
  3. Lower your hands with wrist weights back into starting position in a controlled motion.

Lateral raises are another wrist weight isolation exercise. This time the movement works your deltoids, the main shoulder muscles. More specifically, the middle part.

Similar to other isolation exercises, your wrist weights will not have to be as heavy compared to something like a bent-over row to see muscle growth and strength progress.

9. Wrist weight side bends

Take the following steps to do a wrist weight side bend:

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms with wrist weights hanging by your sides. Your hand palms should face your body.
  2. Slowly tilt your upper body sideways as far as comfortable. Keep your neck in line with your upper body.
  3. Raise your upper body back into starting position and repeat the movement on the other side.

Side bends are a core exercise that focuses on your oblique muscles in your sides. A stronger core can help with things like preventing back issues.

If you already have a sensitive back you do want to be careful with this exercise. In this situation, you may also want to start with the bodyweight version and a small range of motion before adding wrist weights.

10. Wrist weight bent-over rear delt fly

Take the following steps to do a bent-over rear delt fly:

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms with wrist weights hanging by your sides. Your hand palms should face your body. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
  2. Bend your knees a small amount and slightly bend forward until your upper body is as close as horizontal to the ground as comfortable while keeping your back straight. Let gravity do its work on your arms with wrist weights so that they point vertically to the ground.
  3. Slowly raise your hands with wrist weights out to the side until they are at shoulder height by moving your arms.
  4. Move your hands back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.

Depending on how you do the movement, the bent-over rear delt fly will either focus the back part of your deltoid muscles or also work your trapezius and other scapular muscles.

In short, if you want to slouch less with your shoulders, doing the bent-over rear delt fly with the right wrist weights can help.

11. Wrist weight Russian twist

Take the following steps to do two wrist weight Russian twists:

  1. Sit down on the ground with your legs bent at the knees and your feet hovering above the ground. Make sure your back is straight and at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. Your hands with wrist weights start together at your chest.
  2. Slightly twist your upper body to one side and then the other.
  3. Return to starting position.

Make sure you don’t twist too far and keep your spine straight straight to avoid any issues.

Even with the right technique, Russian twists are not for everyone. If you have any back, neck, or shoulder issues you likely want to pass on this exercise. When in doubt ask an expert for advice.

If the Russian twist is the right wrist weight exercise for you it can help you grow and strengthen important core muscles like your abs and obliques. This time the obliques responsible for twisting your upper body.

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Author:

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.