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Why Are My Wrists So Small and Skinny? Can Arm Exercises Help?

Jun 19, 2024 · Angi Genes

Why Are My Wrists So Small and Skinny? Can Arm Exercises Help?

Have you ever looked down at your wrists and wondered why they seem smaller compared to others? You're not alone. Many people feel self-conscious about having slender wrists and often wonder if there's something wrong or if there are ways to make them bigger.  

One fact that might surprise you is that wrist size is primarily determined by bone structure, which means exercises to get bigger wrists need to be aimed at strengthening the surrounding muscles.

This article will guide you through the reasons behind small wrists, including genetics and low muscle mass, and what implications this may have on your daily life like difficulties in gripping or higher risk of joint issues.

We'll also share effective strategies for enhancing wrist strength and potentially increasing their size. Whether you're struggling with finding watches that fit comfortably or aiming to improve your grip strength for better performance in activities like weightlifting, there is a solution that will work for you.

close-up of a muscular man's forearm holding a baseball bat

Key Takeaways

  • Small wrists are mainly due to your bone structure and genes. If your family members have small wrists, you might too.
  • Not having enough body fat or muscle can make your wrists appear smaller. Strength training can help make them stronger and look bigger.
  • Weak grip strength, flexibility issues, and a higher chance of sprains and carpal tunnel syndrome are common in people with small wrists. Doing exercises like wrist curls can improve these problems.
  • Using weights for exercises such as wrist curls and reverse wrist curls strengthens the muscles around your wrists, making them thicker over time.

Understanding the Causes of Small Wrists

Figuring out why your wrists are small involves looking at a few key areas. Your body's fat levels, your family's body types, and the way your bones are shaped all play big roles.

Low Body Fat Percentage

Having a low body fat percentage might sound good, but it can affect your wrists. This condition can lead to smaller wrist bones because there’s not enough fat mass. Without enough fat, bones might not grow as thick or strong.

This can make your wrists look smaller than they could be.

Low body fat is also linked with some health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes. In older people, not having enough body fat may even increase the risk of passing away early.

It's important to keep an eye on your body composition for both looks and health.

Genetic Factors

Your wrists might be small because of your genes. Genes are like tiny blueprints for how our bodies grow and look. Sometimes, changes in these genes can make people shorter and their wrists smaller.

For example, problems with the HOXD13 gene or the PTHLH gene can lead to conditions where someone's wrists are smaller than usual. These genetic issues can also cause other parts of the body to be different sizes.

Other times, certain syndromes like Mowat-Wilson syndrome or conditions that affect bone growth could play a part. These genetic factors mean that if your parents or grandparents have small wrists, you might too.

It's not just about what you eat or how much you exercise—your DNA has a big say in it as well. Scientists keep studying these genes to better understand why some of us have smaller wrists and how we might address it if it becomes a problem for health reasons.

Bone Structure

The wrist connects the hand to the forearm through eight small bones known as carpal bones. These bones play a key role in how big or small your wrists appear. They give structure and shape, acting as bases for muscles and ligaments to attach.

Because of their size and how they are put together, these bones determine the wrist's thickness.

Changes in bone density can also affect wrist size. Strength training that targets the area around your wrists can help make them stronger and possibly thicker over time. Exercises like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls focus on this area, promoting muscle growth near the bones.

Stronger muscles around your wrists can make them look bigger and support healthy bone density.

The Implications of Having Small Wrists

climbing rope and gloves for climbing

Having small wrists affects more than just how your bracelets fit. It can change how well you grip things and move your hands.

Grip strength

Grip strength shows how strong your hands and fingers are. Hand size is linked to this kind of strength. If you have a weak grip, it might mean your muscles throughout the body aren't as strong.

This can make moving around harder for you.

A good grip lets you hold onto things tightly without hurting yourself. It's important for daily tasks like opening jars or writing with a pen. Scientists say that if your grip is strong, you could live longer and be healthier overall.

Working on making your hand clutch stronger could even help prevent some kinds of pain and stiffness in your arms and hands.


Having small wrists can lead to stiffness and less movement. This makes it hard to do everyday tasks and might hurt your joint health over time. If your ligaments are short, you can't move your wrist as much.

This lack of flexibility might even cause neck discomfort because everything in your body is connected.

You can improve how far you can flex or stretch your wrist by doing specific exercises. These activities help make the muscles around your palm stronger and more limber, reducing the risk of sprains and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Working with a fitness coach who understands these issues could give you a plan that targets not just strength but also better motion in your wrists.

Risk of Sprains and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

People with small wrists face a higher chance of getting sprains and carpal tunnel syndrome. Sprains happen when the ligaments that connect bones get stretched too much or tear. This is more common in small wrists because they may not support the joints as well.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there's pressure on the median nerve in your wrist, which controls feelings and movements in parts of the hand. Having small wrists can make this area tight, squeezing the nerve and causing pain or numbness.

To help prevent these issues, it's important to strengthen your wrist muscles and keep them flexible. Exercises like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls improve muscle strength around your wrists.

Using correct form during workouts, especially during activities like bicep curls or Olympic lifting, also reduces strain on your wrists. Wearing supportive gear such as splints can help too by keeping your wrists straight and reducing pressure on nerves.

How to Strengthen and Thicken Wrists and Forearm Muscles

To make your wrists stronger and thicker, there are a few specific exercises you can try outlined below.

Wrist Curls

Wrist curls are a great way to strengthen the muscles in your wrists and forearms. You need a dumbbell or a barbell to start. Sit down and hold the weight with your palms facing up.

Your forearms should rest on your thighs or a bench, with only your hands hanging off the edge. Curl the weight towards you by bending your wrists, then lower it back down slowly. This exercise works the flexor muscles in your forearms.

Doing wrist curls regularly can improve grip strength data-mce-fragment="1"> and make daily tasks easier. It's important to keep your movements controlled and not rush. Start with lighter weights and increase them as you get stronger to avoid injury like tendonitis.

A fitness trainer can show you the right way to do wrist curls for the best results.

Reverse Wrist Curls

To do reverse wrist curls, you need a dumbbell or a barbell. Sit on a bench and hold the weight with your palms facing down. Your arms should rest on your legs or a flat surface, so only your hands move.

Then, lift the weight by bending your wrists upward. Lower it back slowly. This exercise targets the flexors and extensors in your forearms.

Doing this regularly can make your tendons in the wrists stronger and bigger. It also builds powerful muscles in your forearms. You will find lifting things easier because of improved strength and steadiness in your wrists.

Strength Training

Strength training makes your bones stronger and helps you control your weight. It can lessen the chance of getting osteoporosis. You use weights and do different exercises to work out various parts of your body.

This kind of workout is great for making muscles bigger, including those in your forearms around the wrist.

Lifting weights also improves grip strength. A strong grip helps with daily tasks and lowers the risk of arthritis and tendinitis. Personal trainers often recommend grip exercises like using a wrist roller bar to make forearm muscles more robust.

This leads to thicker wrists over time because it targets not just the muscles but also enhances bone density in that area.

Conclusion: Bigger Wrists

two small dumbbells on the gym floor

Understanding the causes of small wrists shows us how genetics, bone structure, and body fat play roles. These factors explain why your wrists are the size they are. Exercises like wrist curls can thicken your wrist area. Give these workouts a try and see if you see changes? Remember, embracing your unique features is also important to get the results you're looking for.

How to Build Thicker Wrists FAQs

Q: Why are my wrists smaller than the rest of my body?

A: Your wrists might be small due to genetics, which determines the size of your bones and how much fat and muscle you naturally have in that area. Everyone's body is unique, so wrist size can vary a lot from person to person.

Q: Can exercising make my wrists bigger?

A: Exercises focusing on wrist extensors and flexors can strengthen your wrists but might not significantly increase their size. Bodybuilders often have larger looking wrists because they reduce the fat around them, making their muscles more visible.

Q: Does wrist size affect how I do exercises like squats or using dumbbells?

A: Wrist size does not directly impact your ability to perform exercises like squats or use dumbbells effectively. However, having strong wrists can help improve your grip strength, making these activities easier and more comfortable.

Q: Are there ways to make my small wrists look bigger?

A: You cannot change the bone structure of your wrists, but building up the muscles in your forearms can make them appear larger overall. Exercises that target the thumb and other parts of the hand can also enhance grip strength, contributing to a more balanced look.

Q: Why do some people have small wrists?

A: Wrist size is largely determined by genetics. Some individuals may have naturally smaller wrists due to factors such as bone structure and body composition.

Q: Can you increase the size of your small wrists?

A: While you cannot change the size of your wrist bones, you can build muscle around your wrists through specific exercises to create the illusion of bigger wrists.

Q: What exercises can help make my wrists appear larger?

A: Certain exercises that target the forearm muscles, such as wrist curls with a dumbbell or barbell, can help to strengthen and increase muscle mass around the wrist area.

Q: Will lifting weights make my wrists thicker?

A: Regular strength training exercises that engage the wrists and forearms can contribute to muscle growth, which may result in thicker wrists over time.

Q: Are there any specific workout routines to get bigger wrists?

A: Including exercises like wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and grip strength exercises in your workout routine can help to enhance the size and strength of your wrists.

Q: Can age affect the size of my wrists?

A: As individuals age, their muscle mass may decrease, which could impact the overall appearance of the wrists. However, targeted exercises can help maintain or increase wrist size regardless of age.

Q: How can I measure my wrist size accurately?

A: Use a flexible measuring tape to wrap around the narrowest part of your wrist, usually above the wrist bone, to determine the circumference in centimeters or inches.

Q: Is it possible for even thin wrists to get thicker with exercise?

A: Yes, consistent and targeted exercises can help individuals with naturally thin wrists to develop muscle mass and increase the thickness of their wrists over time.

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Angi Genes

Angi Genes is a dedicated nutritionist and fitness enthusiast with a remarkable track record in bikini competitions. Her journey into health and wellness began as a personal quest to balance her busy life as a mother with her passion for fitness. Her success in bikini competitions is a testament to her dedication and knowledge in the field of nutrition and fitness.

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