I broke my wrist when I was a kid. I do body building but my wrist gets painful from time to time. I am looking for alternative workout plans without using my wrist, so I could give my wrist a rest for couple weeks.

  • Can you clarify, does it hurt during lifts where your wrist is straight? Or only when it is bent during the exercise?
    – JohnP
    May 7 '15 at 16:00
  • It does hurt even when I try to open a door by pushing the handle. today I had to open with my other hand because of pain.
    – Mert
    May 7 '15 at 16:38
  • Honestly, it sounds like there is a problem, either it refractured, or never really healed right. It might be a good idea to have an ortho take a look and some x-rays. Continued pain like that is an indication something is not right.
    – JohnP
    May 7 '15 at 16:59
  • Its been like 15 years, but I will have looked that out
    – Mert
    May 7 '15 at 17:16

You might not like it, but if the machines in your gym were ever an alternative, this would be it.

Fact is, wrist pain is severily limiting for weightlifters. You use them in pretty much every lift, with few exceptions.

Now might be the time to work on your new personal best in squats.

Free weights are pretty much off the table, so whatever you usually do with a barbell or dumbbells, find the machine that simulates it. Obviously, even some of these are going to be off-limits, because the chest press machine, for instance, is also going to be wrist heavy. But there are machines like the back extension, lateral raise, leg extension/curl, torso rotation, leg press etc. which do provide at least some options.

You're going to have to bite the sour apple here, and go with an "it's better than nothing" mindset.

Alternatively, there's always swimming. I seem to use this in a lot of my answers, but swimming is a miracle activity, and is a workaround for almost any injury. You're obviously not going to progress on your deadlift while doing this, but let's face it. You're not going to do that anyway, if you can't actually deadlift.

  • Wouldn't you advise the use of cable machines? You could for example attach the cable machine to the forearm using the bands that people sometimes use to attach one to their ancle for a leg or glute workout. That way you could do chest flies, facepulls, reverse flies and many more.
    – MJB
    Nov 4 '20 at 10:22

My wrist is sprained on 5/14/15, so I am sort of in the same boat as you. You should probably get your wrist checked out, but in the mean time, depending on the seriousness of pain there are options. In the case where the pain is pretty serious you could be out of luck. But if it isn't, there are workouts you can do: They include forward arm circles(shoulders and traps), leg press(quads), bikes(cardio), pretty much any lower body calisthenics, and butterfly machine(chest)-extend your arms in place of your wrists to move the weight. You can also try chest fly w/weight from machine but not on machine or chest fly w/bands(both using arms and not wrists as said earlier) However, I still wouldn't recommend it, because it will be very painful to your forearms after reps. Also, avoid workouts using grip until your wrist has healed or the doctor says you can use it.


I've tore cartilage in my wrist and have looked through all these forums and research papers and havnt got anywhere really but I was in the gym earlier and there were these Velcro straps that are used for tying to ankles and doing adductions but if you strap them to your forearm u can train most upper body areas and strap them together and then above ur elbow to do single arm rows and lay pull downs


Could you try slider pads under your elbows in a plank positions? T You could definitely do a fly variation with your bodyweight, and I bet sliding elbows up above your head and back down would work too, like a hamstring curls for your chest/shoulders


I would recommend visiting a physiotherapist to have your wrist assessed and seek a rehabilitative program to strengthen the muscles around your wrist. I don’t usually go for general doctors as their prescriptions are usually painkillers and rest. We can rest, but active rest is still better if you can afford to.

Here are a few things you can consider:

  • Solid warm up of your wrists before lifting (https://youtu.be/mSZWSQSSEjE)
  • Make sure your wrist is in an optimal alignment with the direction of force. For example, while doing a bench press, you want to make sure your wrist is lined up with your elbows (somewhat in line, to prevent unnecessary rotational forces on your wrists)
  • Strengthen your wrists via the link above
  • Doing lower body exercises (squats, leg press) that don’t require holding onto something
  • Swimming like someone mentioned before

Ultimately, it boils down to your goal. Lose fat? Gain muscle? Regain wrist mobility and strength? Once you’re clear, you can have an attack plan and move forward. The worst thing is to do nothing.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.