Strength Training

7 Knuckle Push Ups Benefits For Improved Wrist Stability

knuckle push ups benefits

When it comes to knuckle push ups benefits there are a whole host of reasons to include this form of press up into your workout routine.

Comparing the movement to traditional push-ups, knuckle pushups are performed in the same way but with a slight difference in the configuration of your hand position.  

Instead of a flat hand, you would perform this body weight exercise with a closed fist.  

Popular amongst martial artists, who sometimes refer to them as karate push-ups, this push-up variation places more emphasis on your forearm muscles but also offers some other distinct benefits which we’ll look at below. 

Knuckle Push Ups Benefits

knuckle push ups benefits

Enhanced Wrist Stability

Knuckle push-ups may help to build strong wrists and improve stability to the wrist joints.  

This is because the exercise places less stress on the delicate structures of the wrist when compared to regular push-ups. 

During a knuckle push-up, your forearms and wrists form a straight line keeping them in a neutral position.  

This can be particularly beneficial if you tend to experience wrist pain or discomfort when performing standard push-ups.

wrist flexibility

Increased Arm Strength

Knuckle push-ups are a great way of increasing strength to the lower and upper arms.  

With consistent training, this type of push-up allows for greater activation of the arm muscles, connective tissues and may even help to improve bone strength.  

Core Engagement

When compared to traditional pushups, knuckle push-ups engage your core muscles much more.  This is to provide stability to your upper and lower body whilst maintaining balance and ensuring proper form.

You’ll be working your abdominal muscles, obliques, and lower back, helping to improve your core strength.

Joint-Friendly Exercise

carpal tunnel syndrome

If you suffer with wrist or hand problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, knuckle push-ups could be a good alternative to regular push-ups.  

As the weight load is more evenly distributed across your knuckles this can help to minimize stress to the wrists and lower your chance of injury.

Improved Punching Power

punching power

Knuckle push-ups are often practiced during martial arts training.  

This is because they can help to build stronger wrists, hand, knuckles, and forearms which may enhance punching power and make the hands more resistant to impact during combat sports.

When performed often, the skin across your knuckles will become much tougher and you may even develop calluses.  

Knuckle calluses are beneficial to those who train in martial arts as the skin is better protected.  

Better Grip Strength

As you place more emphasis on the muscles of the lower arms this help to build forearm strength.  

This can be ideal for certain activities where you need a strong grip, such as rock climbing, weightlifting, or grappling sports.

Increased Wrist Flexibility

With regular practice, over time you can help to improve wrist flexibility and mobility.

The exercise can help stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the wrist joint, leading to greater overall range of motion and better wrist health.  

Larger Range of Motion

You’ll have a better range of motion when performing this exercise allowing for greater activation of certain muscle groups.  

This is because when you prop yourself up on your fists as opposed to your palms, you’ll be elevated slightly higher from the floor.  

How to Perform Knuckle Push Ups

When executing conventional push-ups the palms of your hands can be positioned at different widths.  

For example, when placing your hands beyond your shoulders, you can target more of your upper body muscles, specifically your chest and shoulder muscles.

In comparison, if you bring your hands closer together, you’ll place more emphasis on your triceps brachii and anterior deltoids. 

However, when it comes to the starting position of a knuckle pushup, it’s important to keep your wrists directly under your shoulders throughout to allow for a greater range of motion and to reduce the chance of wrist injury.  

knuckle push-up

Here’s How To Do The Knuckle Push-Up Exercise:

  1. Start by lying face down on the floor in a push up position. 
  2. Ball your hands together to form fists and place your knuckles on the floor making sure they align with your shoulders. 
  3. Be sure to maintain a neutral wrist position so that they remain straight throughout. 
  4. Squeeze your core and glutes to help with stability. 
  5. Bend your elbows and lower your upper body towards the ground.  Make sure your elbows don’t flare out.  
  6. Try and get low enough so that your chest is just slightly elevated from the ground. 
  7. From here, push through your knuckles back to the starting position. 

If you’re new to this exercise, you’ll probably want to do them on a soft surface.  

This is because you’ll need to build up a tolerance and performing them on a hard floor can be painful if your hands aren’t conditioned to the surface.  

You could start by using push-up handles as these essentially allow for a similar hand position but without the pressure to your knuckles being applied.  

How to Progress from a Knuckle Push Up 

Once you’ve become accustomed to this exercise, you may decide to make it a little more challenging.  Let’s look at some different ways of increasing the intensity. 

Knuckle Push-Up Negatives

  1. Start in a regular push-up position with the weight of your body on your toes and knuckles.  
  2. Very slowly lower your body to the floor for a count of 5 seconds.  
  3. Once your chest is just above the floor, push back up to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. 

Decline Knuckle Push-Ups

  1. Start by placing your feet on an elevated surface, such as a weight bench. 
  2. Ball your hands into fists and rest on your knuckles, keeping your hands under your shoulders. 
  3. Lower your upper body towards the ground as low as possible before pushing back up.  
  4. This variation puts more emphasis on your upper body muscles so that you work against gravity from an elevated position.

One-Arm Knuckle Push-Ups

  1. Adopt a standard knuckle push-up position but raise one hand off the ground and place it just behind your back. 
  2. Engage your core and bend at the elbow to lower towards the floor.  
  3. Aim to go as low as you can without losing form or balance.  
  4. Perform your desired number of reps before switching to work the other side.  

Final Thoughts

Knuckle push-ups offer a host of benefits that make them a worthwhile addition to your fitness routine.

By transitioning from regular pushups to the knuckle variation, you can unlock a new level of strength, stability, and overall physical performance.

As with any exercise, it’s important to prioritize safety and technique when performing knuckle push-ups.

You should start by focusing on good form, gradually progress, and listen to your body to prevent injuries and for optimum results.  

Before you go, why not take a read of our article ‘Diamond Push-Ups Muscles Worked‘.  This variation primarily targets the triceps muscles, but also works the chest, shoulders, and core muscles. 

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