4 Exercises to Power Up Your Fingers, Hands & Wrists

By on March 3, 2017

Bowling, rock climbing, gardening, martial arts, handgun shooting and opening pickle jars share all this trait: adequate finger, hand, and wrist strength that allows you to grip, pull, twist, support, strike and hold.

I thought I had strong hands after many years of garden installations and 8 years of rock climbing. But 3 intro classes in self defense, made it clear that it was time to work on hand strength. Philipino Silat (knife), Jiu Jitsu (Japanese kicks and punches) and mixed martial arts (MMA), had me walking out their doors, cradling my right wrist, quietly saying ‘Owwww’. My wrists weren’t up to these challenges. Add to that, in 2014, the tip of my middle finger got sliced off. In some kind of integrated muscle matrix, the strength in the adjoining finger, my right hand’s index finger, was notably reduced.

But the body responds eagerly to well informed exercise and strength conditioning.

I’m lucky to have a mentor, a retired Major in the Marines’ Special Operation Command, who for 20 years specialized in biomechanics and trained men to undergo the most arduous missions. That was then. Now, he boils down his elite education and training and delivers it to a level that I can understand and execute. It’s  S-l-o-w strength training . It’s highly effective, and only inexpensive gear is needed.

The first 3 are static exercises where you hold an object. If / when you can do each of the following for 90 seconds, then it’s time to increase weight and resistance. 

Go slow and go far! From easy to more challenging, they are:


I bought this ball at Dick’s sporting goods for $1. It’s firm, yet gives. I squeeze the ball with everything I have and can hold it for 90 seconds, so I now need a firmer ball, maybe a field hockey or lacrosse ball. Repeat a few times a week for incrementally longer times. It’s useful for strengthening the three middle fingers on each hand.


Purchased at the thrift store, this 4-pound weight is currently a good match for me. I’ll upgrade to 5 pounds when I can hold this one for 90 seconds. Yes, it’s as awkward as it looks. This hold is really working muscle sets that I don’t understand. I hold out straight in front of me until my arm shakes and collapses. It’s an overall hand strengthener.


This one’s intense! Excellent for finger strengthening. I’m holding a round, 5 pound barbell weight straight out in front of me until my arm shakes. It’s crazy for thumb and index finger conditioning, and very effective on the whole arm. (My old dislocated shoulder’s improving for it). I picked up the barbell weight for $5 at a sporting goods store. Smaller and larger sizes also available.


This 4th exercise shows the  movement you strive for in super slow strength training. I’m still perfecting it myself, but you want the initial movement, upwards, to be slow; and the downward release, even slower. Here it’s important to support the forearm and wrist area to focus the muscles to be strengthened. Very slow repetitions, until you can’t do anymore is how new muscle is laid down. It really works. All four strength conditioning exercise took me about 5 minutes (sitting in my backyard on a nice day !)

Suzy Meyer, Author
Pittsburgh, PA

I'm a landscape architect, gardener, and of late, a certified NRA instructor. I enjoy practicing T’ai Chi, playing bocce, and walking through watersheds.. This blog is my journey full of learning curves to calm the chaos.


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