How to Fix Wrist Pain When Bench Pressing
by Evelyn Valdez·
There’s a good reason why the barbell bench press is one of the three powerlifting lifts. It’s a tough exercise that requires exerting maximal force, which can put a lot of strain on your muscles and joints if done incorrectly – particularly on your wrists.
Your wrists are what connect your hands holding the barbell to the rest of your body, so they’re under a lot of pressure during this exercise. Because of this, some lifters experience wrist pain during or after bench pressing, which can affect not only your performance but also your daily life. Luckily, this can be avoidable!
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective tips and tricks to fix and completely avoid wrist pain when bench pressing. This way, you’ll be able to make gains safely and effectively without worrying about having a painful experience in the process.
Use a closed overhand grip on the bar
When doing barbell bench presses, because it’s a heavy load exercise, you want to make sure that you have the bar under complete control while lifting it over your chest – and that means securing it with a closed overhand grip!
If you’ve been lifting for a while, you already know there are different grips that you can use, such as the overhand, underhand, mixed, and false grip. However, using any other kind of grip besides overhand during this specific lift will put a lot of strain on your wrists.
Take the false grip for example, which is basically an open overhand grip. This grip keeps the thumb next to your index instead of wrapping it around the bar, leaving it partially unsecured and at risk of slipping off your hand. This involves your wrists a lot more in an effort to keep the bar in place, so make sure to fully grasp it at all times!
Keep your wrists in a neutral position
One major bench press form mistake that lifters often make is bending their wrists either too far forward or too far back. This is more common in beginners that haven’t mastered proper form yet, but advanced lifters also forget to keep their wrists neutral sometimes, which can be terrible for your wrist health.
When you’re bench pressing, the weight of the barbell has to travel through your wrists to your arm, shoulders, and chest muscles. If you bend them forward or backward, all the tension will accumulate on your wrists, not only damaging them and making them hurt but also preventing you from making actual gains.
If you’re ever unsure if your wrists are in a neutral position or not, take a look at your knuckles. Ideally, they should be pointing back, not upward or downward – so keep this in mind!
Wear wrist wraps
There are all kinds of fitness gear designed to help you get through your workouts safely, whether it’s by making them more comfortable or by giving you some additional support – like wrist wraps!
Wrist wraps, as the name suggests, are designed to wrap around your wrists to help stabilize the wrist joint during the heavy pushing exercises, like the bench press. Your wrists travel an upward path during this exercise, and the wraps offer the wrist support necessary to keep the bar stable so you can focus on your active muscles while avoiding pain.
If you want to be able to press a few more reps and max out on bench presses to get stronger or to train for a competition, consider getting a trusty pair of UPPPER Wrist Wraps! Our high-quality wrist wraps are designed with your comfort and safety in mind and come in all kinds of colors for you to choose from.
Load the appropriate weight on the bar
This should be common knowledge, but even the most advanced lifters often forget that they’re not actually made of steel. Bench pressing is a demanding exercise and can be very taxing on your muscles and joints, and this is particularly true for your wrists.
Depending on your goals, your reps will vary. For example, if you’re lifting for muscle mass, your reps will be higher, but lifting for strength will take your reps to the lower end instead. Make sure to choose a weight that you’ll be able to lift for as many reps as you need – it’s always better to underestimate your strength than to overestimate it and fail!
If you’re unsure of how much you can lift, check out our guide on how to calculate and use your one-rep max! This way, you can be sure of your current lifting power for a safer and more effective strength training journey.
Rest the bar on the palms of your hands
This particular mistake is closely related to the mistake of not keeping your wrists neutral, and one might cause the other. When gripping the barbell, people tend to hold the barbell on their fingers, not only interrupting the flow of the tension through the wrist but also causing it to bend backward.
To prevent this, you need to make sure that the barbell is resting on the base of your palms instead of your fingers. It should be placed comfortably on the meaty portion of your palms near your thumbs so you can wrap your fingers comfortably around it and better support the weight, avoiding unnecessary wrist pain.
Change your grip width
Finding the ideal grip width can be a little challenging at first, but it’s necessary if you want to make gains while avoiding wrist pain. Even if you think your current grip width is fine, if you’re experiencing pain and seem to be doing everything else correctly, then this might be it!
When it comes to bench pressing, a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip is recommended for most lifters. However, no one has the same body! Next time you bench press, use a lower load and play with a wider or narrower grip width until you find a position that’s comfortable for you and your wrists.
Switch to dumbbells
Using a barbell isn’t the only way to get your bench-pressing reps in – dumbbells work too! Grabbing a pair of dumbbells to do your workout might be a good alternative since your hold the weights in a more angled position, making it easier on your wrists.
Of course, barbells allow you to push your muscles to the max and make gains more quickly, but dumbbells can also help build both strength and muscle mass. If you suffer from wrist pain, are recovering from an injury, or maybe haven’t developed enough strength to lift a barbell just yet, stick with dumbbell bench presses for now!
Safety always comes before gains
If you ever find yourself in pain during bench pressing or any other kind of exercise, you need to stop immediately. Pushing through the pain can only make matters worse and eventually hinder your progress, which you definitely don’t want! So make sure to take care of yourself first and work on your exercise form to avoid pain in the future.
Why choose UPPPER Wrist Wraps for your weightlifting sessions?
They’re designed by lifters for lifters!
Our high-quality wrist wraps are all you look for in a fitness accessory - durable, comfortable, reliable, and stylish! We offer long and sturdy wrist wraps in both neutral and cute colors that are perfect for safely lifting on those days that you really want to challenge yourself with heavier loads. Take your strength to the max with our UPPPER Wrist Wraps!
>> SHOP WRIST WRAPS <<