T Nation

Arm Wrestling


So I've been lifting weights for well over a year now and have built my strength up considerably. To my great dismay, I was unable to beat my buddy, who is a stout plumber that DOESN'T EVEN LIFT, in a right-handed arm wrestling match. It was very humbling. I did beat him lefty, though.

I've already turned my cap backwards and made a mean face. I squat, deadlift, press, and eat a lot of meat. Say my prayers and take my vitamins, all the good stuff.

What do I need to do to take my arm wrestling to the next level? How do I get good at this foolish display of machismo?


Dude turns wrenches for a living. Mechanics half your size would probably pin you also.


Great arm wrestling documentary.


I have no experience in the area, but I'd assume a lot of rotator cuff work is in order.


Just for inspiration


nope. Grip, forearm flexors, and biceps


There is a ton of technique in arm wrestling. Also, you can get really hurt if you don't know what you are doing.


Also, lats, for back pressure. The greatest arm wrestler ever John Brzenk said pullups was the best exercise you could do for improving arm wrestling, besides actual arm wrestling. He was really adamant on how much you have to arm wrestle to become great at it. Nothing beats actually practicing day after day.

Brzenk was a pretty jacked dude (even by weightlifter standards) but he beat some absolute mountainous men with his superior technique. He has an awesome quote too which is something along the lines of "My arm is like electricity, it just finds the path of least resistance".

Also, the documentary (Pulling John)is pretty good. I have watched it twice, it is on youtube and Netflix. Highly recommend it even for people who are not into arm wrestling. Just a very cool look at the niche sport and all the interesting personalities in it over the years.




As someone that holds his own against 300 pounders, I consider myself pretty good. Here's what I recommend.

Technique. Technique. Technique. Seriously. Technique can close a strength gap pretty damn quick. Be lax in your technique against someone that knows what they're doing and you'll have a hard time recovering. Learn how to incorporate your bodyweight. Learn how to gain leverage.

Get stronger in the right places. Build your grip. Build your forearms. Build your wrists. Build your biceps. Shoulders, pecs, rotator cuffs, and teres major can help a lot. Abs as well. Make sure your forearms have plenty of endurance as well.

Attitude. Never get too cocky. Try to end a bout as quickly as possible.


Yep, there is gym-strong and there is I-do-shit-all-day-strong.

My dad, who is pre-disposed to decent grip strength got in shape one summer. He was top dog among his peers for arm wrestling. Feeling pretty confident, he challenged his grandad. Grandad shovelled coal and turned wrenches 10 hours a day, 6 days a week except Christmas and had done for 40 some years.

Dad lost. Grandad didn't break a sweat. True story. Old man strength is real.


Old man strength is funny thing. I remember in high school during New Years at our place, my dad dragged one my friends out with one arm and threw his ass outside.


Technique, practice, and being a generally big guy are the top three things to help you.

Endurance in your grip, forearms, and biceps is also very important. I had once been challenged to arm wrestle a 300+ pound 6'3" guy who actually arm wrestles frequently, and we arm wrestled for a minimum of a minute. He wasn't particularly strong (or at least didn't lift), but was an absolutely massive guy (which is important) with good technique, and had gotten close to beating me, however he didn't have the strength to do so, so I kept at it and was able to outlast and beat him with brute strength.


when do you get it? That's what I want to know


True that! I work with a guy who is a Steam Fitter (basically a plumber with his brains beat in) and who is a competitive arm wrestler. He travels up and down the east coast for tournaments. He says he has never won the whole tournament, but that he usually places fairly well. He doesn't look "huge" or anything, but he is very stout. He also said it's a lot about technique and that if you can get your opponent in a disadvantageous position, the ref will call the bout in your favor - apparently they are very conservative about injury prevention.

Having said that, I spiral fractured a guys humerus while arm wrestling at a party several years ago. That's the last time I arm wrestled anyone (other than joking around with my kids). I felt horrible that I had hurt the guy over something so trivial - it was serious injury, he spent months in a cast. I was afraid he was going to sue me, but luckily he didn't.


Thanks for all of the fun stuff guys.

I have no intention of training for this, but I will try to improve my technique and give him a run for his money next time we get drunk and decide to test our strength.


Strength is so specific. If you actually wanted to get better at arm wrestling, the best way is to simply arm wrestle a lot lol. John Brzenk, undoubtedly the greatest arm wrestler of all time, is a 198lb man who has beaten countless dudes weighing over 300lbs. I was incredibly disappointed when researching his training to find that he does hardly any weight training at all. Literally he just arm wrestles a ton.

I've seen him crush dudes that can smoke a 500lb bench press on the arm wrestling table; made em look like little girls! How strong you are in the gym has surprisingly little impact on arm wrestling, especially against someone who works with their hands and wrists for a living.

And like Quincy said, technique is huge. A lot goes into the setup and getting your grip on your opponent, then there are various strategies for wrist control. The object is usually to put all the pressure on the opponent's bicep while you use mostly your larger muscles.




No way... It's at least in the 4th decade.


Little higher