Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curl

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Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curl (Dumbbell Wrist Extension)

Wrist curls are done using either a supinated (palms facing up) or a pronated grip (palms facing down). Supinated wrist curls build the forearm flexors and are important accessory exercises to biceps curls. Pronated, or reverse, wrist curls build the wrist extensors, the muscles injured in tennis elbow. Reverse dumbbell wrist curl works the muscles on the outside of the forearm, providing a stronger backhand for sports like tennis and racquetball.

As the name suggests, the reverse dumbbell wrist curl is identical to the standard dumbbell wrist curl except you take a reverse overhand grip on the dumbbells, palms turned down. Furthermore, this is the same as the reverse barbell wrist curl, but your hands work independently. This exercise works the muscles on the backside of your forearm.

Many people prefer dumbbells for reverse wrist curls because they place less strain on the wrists and they allow
a longer range of motion. So try using dumbbells, either lifting both simultaneously or one at a time. You probably won’t be able to use as much weight as you can with an underhand grip. Always use lighter weight than you would for the forearm curl.

Exercise Instructions

In a seated position, with forearms resting on your thighs (or on a bench) and hands extending over your knees, use a pronated grip (palms facing down) to hold the weight (dumbbells) and lower it as far as possible; then lift your hands upward (“curl” your wrists) by bending at the wrists as much as you can. Curl the dumbbells using the wrists only and keep the rest of your arms stationary. Hold the contracted position for one second, then slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat. You can lift with both arms simultaneously or with one at a time.

Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curl - Dumbbell Wrist Extension

Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curl – Dumbbell Wrist Extension

You can also do this exercise kneeling with your forearms resting across the width of a bench and your hands free.

Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curls Over a Bench

Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curls Over a Bench

Exercise Key Points to Remember

  • Place your feet flat on the floor or up on the bench frame depending on the height of the bench.
  • First flex your wrist so that your hands hang down from your wrist at about a 90-degree angle. Extend your wrists to lift the dumbbells up as high as you can. Hold this position for a second while forcefully contracting your forearm muscles, then slowly return the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  • Your forearms remain in contact with your thighs or the bench all the time during the movement.
  • Aim for a moderately long yet strict movement to work the extensor muscles effectively.
  • Good technique is more important than weight, which should never be heavy. Too much weight or too wide a range of movement can lead to injury.
  • Allow your wrists to bend naturally as the weight pulls them.
  • Pause at the top and bottom of the movement.
  • This is not a power exercise that needs to be done explosively. The muscles in your forearms were made for endurance, so you should do this exercise slowly.

Exercise Variations

Try these other forearm exercises.

Replacement Exercises

Muscles Used in Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curl

The reverse dumbbell wrist curl targets the top or extensor muscles of the forearms.

Main muscles: extensor digitorum
Secondary muscles: extensor carpi radialis longus and brevis, extensor indicis, extensor pollicis longus, extensor minimi digiti
Antagonists: flexor carpi ulnaris, flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus, finger flexors

Closing Thoughts

The forearm muscles are essential to any activity requiring a rapid wrist movement (snap), such as in golf, tennis, badminton, and throwing a ball. Weakness or overuse of the forearm muscles results in tennis elbow (also called carpenter’s elbow)—inflammation of the soft tissue around the elbow, caused by overuse. The forearm muscles are also largely responsible for grip strength. There are two particularly good exercises for the forearms: wrist curls and reverse wrist curls.

The reverse dumbbell wrist curl (dumbbell wrist extension) strengthens your forearms, allowing you to hold greater loads for longer periods to work the big muscle group. That’s why it’s a very good idea to include this exercise into your forearm workout.

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