Arm Wrestling Theory, Arm Wrestling Training

How To Get Better At Armwrestling – 6 Most Important Things

Harvey Meale

Harvey Meale

When you’re brand new to armwrestling, trying to figure out exactly where to start can be pretty overwhelming…

There’s several different techniques to consider, hundreds of different exercises you could be doing, and all sorts of different equipment you have no idea if you need.

I feel you.

I wrote this article because it’s exactly what I would have wanted to read when I was in the same position as you.

My goal is that by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what you need to do in order to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes most amateurs make in the early days.

Not only that, but I want to set you up with everything you need to start progressing as quickly as humanly possible in the sport of armwrestling.

Let’s begin!

1. Join A Club As Soon As Possible

If you haven’t already, you NEED to join a club ASAP.

Arm Wrestling Club

The reason this is so vital is because you’ll get immediate access to mentorship as well as exposure to a huge variety of different styles.

Your goal should be to try to learn just 1 thing from every different armwrestler you pull with – and that’ll be super easy since literally everyone will know more about armwrestling than you!

Explain to people that you’re a beginner and you’ll find people are more than happy to share what they know.

No Access To A Club?

No armwrestling scene nearby?

You need to find a buddy who’s interested in training with you.

Arm Wrestling Training Partners

But if you’re training with just 1 partner, even if they’re quite experienced, you’re going to severely limit yourself to what you can learn and the different things you’ll feel on the table.

Regular exposure to 3-4+ different pullers will make all the difference in how quickly you develop.

Some of you won’t have anyone to practice with regularly, and that’s okay temporarily, but you do need to figure out a way to train with other armwrestlers on a weekly basis.

If you’re that guy who’s just doing really heavy cheat curls in the gym and expecting to one day be half decent at armwrestling, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

As a beginner there is absolutely no way you can avoid the table.

You have to start developing that muscle memory.

The biggest ROI you’ll get as an armwrestler in the early days is actually armwrestling.

However while you’re working on finding a crew to train with, you

2. Pick A Single Technique To Focus On

When you’re first starting out, it’s much easier to focus on a single strategy than it is to try and master them all.

The two most popular armwrestling techniques are the top roll (outside) and the hook (inside).

Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and each are suited to different morphologies and strength backgrounds.

While many of us watch elite pullers like Devon Larratt and John Brzenk, who have mastered both inside and outside armwrestling, it doesn’t make sense for most of us mere mortals to attempt this.

The vast majority of elite armwrestlers specialize in one technique only, with only a handful of guys being exceptionally good at both.

For that reason, it makes sense to choose the technique which is best suited to you and focus all your time and energy on getting really good at it.

If you choose top roll, for example, you’re still going to have strengths and weaknesses as a top roller, so it makes sense to develop your weaknesses as a top roller, instead of working on your hook.

How To Choose Between Inside & Outside?

This should largely be determined by what genetic factors you’re bringing to the table.

We tend to see taller, longer levered athletes gravitating towards the outside (top roll) style of pulling because their length naturally makes establishing height in a match easier.

Top rollers don’t have to rely on strength quite as much as hookers because they seek to win the match through establishing a leverage advantage as opposed to out-muscling their opponent.

Inside pullers tend to have more absolute strength, have very strong chests, shoulders, and triceps, and might have less length.

If you imagine a continuum where on the left side you have a ‘basketball player’ and the right side is a ‘powerlifter’, top rollers will tend to fall more towards the left whereas hookers will be closer to the right, generally speaking.

There will of course be a huge overlap as far as morphology goes and there’s been plenty of extremely successful tall and lanky hookers as well as short and stocky top rollers.

If you’re unsure which strategy to start with initially, begin with the top roll but also play around with the hook.

The top roll, despite being a bit more technical, is actually a bit easier to learn and will teach you a bit more about technical armwrestling than the hook will.

But you should definitely experiment with both the hook and top roll to see which one works better for you.

Once you have a pretty good idea of which technique you’re leaning towards, it’s a good idea to really focus in on it and not concern yourself too much with developing each of the other techniques.

At the end of the day, armwrestling is a fight…

To win the fight, you should always pull out your biggest, sharpest knife – and you’ll be better off with 1 really big, sharp knife, than you will be with 2 butter knives!

3. Get Some Essential Training Equipment

Armwrestlers train with all sorts of different equipment, the goal of which is to maximize carry-over to the armwrestling table.

Armwrestling gear mostly comes in the form of cable attachments or handles.

Armwrestling Handles

Regular gym handles don’t accurately represent the forces you’ll feel when pulling a human being, which is why we have tools like wrist wrenches and multispinners.

Wrist Wrench & Multispinner

Thankfully, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on equipment when you’re first starting out.

You can get a really fantastic workout in with just a martial arts belt and some standard gym handles.

Having said that, if you really want to get better at armwrestling quickly, I’ve put together a very short list of some equipment I highly recommend you pick up.

The items below are listed in the order of importance/the order in which you should buy them.

Essential Gear
Judo Belt
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A martial arts belt (of any sort) is an armwrestlers best friend. You can do SO many different armwrestling exercises using one of these. Even top professionals use belts on a daily basis in their training.

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05/17/2024 09:42 am GMT
Essential Gear
Multispinner

A multispinner should be the first arm wrestling specific attachment you get your hands on. It can train everything (cup, pronation, supination, back pressure, side pressure, containment) except for rising strength, making it the most versatile handle you can get.

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Best Pulley System
Adjustable Table Pulley
$199.99 $179.99

Having an adjustable pulley system that attaches to your table is going to allow you to perform 99% all of the arm wrestling specific lifts at the correct angles for maximum table carry-over.

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05/17/2024 06:21 am GMT

Now I want to mention that you absolutely do not need your own armwrestling table, as long as you’re able to access one during your weekly table time sessions.

However I’ve found that cheap tables tend to do a remarkably good job and will last a while, so you don’t necessarily need to fork out a ton of cash to get something decent.

The beauty of having a table really comes when you pair it with an adjustable table pulley system and a handle or 2.

You also do not need a pulley system, as long as you’re happy to do all your lifts on a cable machine at the gym.

With a table, pulley system, and a handle, you’ll have everything you need to start developing some seriously accurate armwrestling strength.

Without at least one of the above handles, you’re going to struggle to train your finger strength/containment in a way that’ll carry over to the armwrestling table.

Any Other Gear I Need?

Over time you’ll collect different bits and pieces, so there’s no rush to get everything all at once.

If you don’t have access to one, I’d recommend getting a strap so you can practice pulling strapped up.

This is particularly important if you find you’re constantly slipping from your training partners in practice.

Essential Gear
Armwrestling Strap
$7.99

If you don't already have one, you'll want to grab a cheap strap so you can practice pulling without slipping constantly!

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05/17/2024 10:38 pm GMT

Aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot you need when you’re first starting out.

But if you’re keen to buy some stuff, check out the link below where I’ve put together a full list of equipment recommendations and the order in which you should go about purchasing them.

4. Follow A Structured Training Program

Even if you’ve got a background in strength sports, knowing how to train for armwrestling isn’t super obvious…

Because it’s such a specific type of strength we’re trying to develop, you need to do very specific exercises to get the best results.

It’s also a unique sport that is at least as much about developing your tendons as it is your muscles.

We’ve put together a super detailed armwrestling training program designed specifically for beginner and intermediate pullers that explains exactly what exercises to do, how heavy to lift, how frequently, etc.

Whether you want to follow our program or develop your own, we’ve included a long list of training principles you’ll need to be aware of to inform your training, so I strongly recommend checking out the above program.

5. Learn How To Optimize Your Recovery

The quickest possible way to go from complete beginner to elite armwrestler is to,

A) Never get injured
B) Train with relentless consistency

It’s unrealistic to think you’re never going to get injured, but you should definitely approach things with that mindset.

If 2 athletes are completely identical, except 1 of them gets injured every 6 months, and the other only gets injured once every other year, the athlete getting injured 4 times less frequently is going to be significantly stronger 5 years down the road…

Not only does optimizing your recovery make it much harder for you to get injured, but it also enables you to train more frequently with more consistency.

Quicker recovery = better, more consistent, and more frequent performance = WAY more adaptation

The armwrestlers treating their bodies like professional athletes are going to see significantly more rapid results than those who approach armwrestling as a recreational.

The top athletes are working harder than you on the table and in the gym, and they’re working just as hard off the table to keep their joints, tendons, muscles, and connective tissue healthy.

Diet & Sleep

If you’re not sleeping close to 8 hours per night, you’re simply not taking your development as an athlete seriously.

This is the most important optimization you could be making, by a country mile.

As far as diet goes, just make sure you’re eating clean, whole foods and getting plenty of protein in – and don’t avoid carbs, as they’re necessary for high intensity movements and your type 2 muscle fibers need them.

So I’d be avoiding keto, carnivore, and strict intermittent fasting protocols like OMAD.

Ensure you have plenty of carbs and protein before your main workout for the day so that you can train hard in the gym or on the table.

Most importantly, be consistent.

Supplementation

There’s plenty of helpful supplements armwrestlers can take to not only increase performance but also to speed up the recovery process.

The main ones include,

  • Creatine – Boosts energy production and performance
  • Fish oil – Great for joint health
  • Collagen – Helps with tendon recovery
  • Vitamin C – Enhances recovery

I’ll be publishing a much more detailed article on supplementation for armwrestlers in the near future.

Prehab Exercises

Armwrestlers tend to heavily favor certain movements like pronation, radial deviation (rising), and side pressure.

Most of us aren’t training our supination, ulnar deviation (chopping/down pressure), and external rotation as much as we should be in order to keep our bodies balanced.

There’s all sorts of exercises you can do to keep your shoulders, elbows, and wrists healthy.

I’d recommend the following,

External Rotations

You can do these in a variety of different ways.

Using bands is easiest, but just make sure you experiment with a few different angles other than having your forearm parallel to the floor.

I like to do them on a table mimicking the arm position I’d be using in a match.

Rotator Cuff Work

You’ll want to do these in both directions to ensure your rotor cuffs stay healthy.

Supination

There’s a hundred different variations you can play with for supination, but as long as you’re doing it once or twice a week, you should be golden.

Our beginner armwrestling training program includes some supination work baked in.

I’d recommend doing each of these movements at least once or twice per week.

Ice & Massage

It’s perfectly okay to use ice to reduce soreness after super strenuous sessions, but I wouldn’t use it all the time as it’s the inflammatory response that actually produces the adaptation we’re looking for.

There’s some evidence that suggests ice baths may actually be counterproductive to developing muscle and strength because of the effects on inflammation.

But if you’ve just done a 10/10 intensity session and know you’re going to be crippled the next day, I’d definitely still jump in that ice bath!

Massage is also one of the best things you can do to enhance recovery.

If you can’t get regular massages, you can use a massage gun, barbell, or trigger point ball to accomplish a similar effect.

Red Light & Cold Laser Therapy

The benefits of red light and/or cold laser therapy for muscle and tendon recovery has been extremely well documented.1https://a1athlete.com/red-light-therapy-muscle-recovery/

I personally use a wearable red light therapy device every night and have found I feel noticeably better the next day compared to when I don’t use it.

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Kineon MOVE+ Pro

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It’s not cheap, but if you’ve got the cash and are serious about progressing as an armwrestler, I’d highly recommend looking into it!

I’ll also be doing a full write up and video explaining the benefits of using wearable devices like these shortly.

6. Always Be Learning

When you’re pulling on the table during practice, constantly be questioning why things happened the way they did.

Try to figure out where the advantage came from, what lane you defeated your opponent in/were defeated in.

Treat every pull like a puzzle.

Try to replay it back in your head and hone in on exactly what it was that tipped the match in a certain direction.

Maybe you felt like your pronation was completely useless in a certain position… discuss it with your partner.

Replay it in your head and come up with a hypothesis as to what happened.

Pull again and test it.

Try something different.

Don’t get into the habit of pulling mindlessly.

Always be analyzing and strategizing and trying to apply new things you learnt online!

Speaking of, the more armwrestling content you consume, the more you’ll learn, even if it’s subconscious.

You’ll arrive at practice with more ideas in your head and will find yourself naturally experimenting a bit more.

Most importantly, make sure you’re following us on the following platforms, whichever ones you use.

Join The Armwrestling Advice Newsletter

If you haven’t already, you NEED to get on this ASAP!

Every week we reach out to some of the world’s best arm wrestlers and ask them to share training tactics and advice.

If you can’t practice with world level pullers, you’ll at least want to listen to and learn from their wisdom!

You can sign up for free below.

    My last bit of advice is to enjoy yourself.

    Armwrestling should be really really fun and is a great way to build community and the ultimate way to challenge yourself.

    Cherish every opportunity you get to pull on the table and HAVE FUN!

    About

    Harvey Meale

    I'm an arm wrestling superfan and the founder of Armwrestling Advice. I'm currently training full time to become the best puller I can be. When I'm not in the gym, you'll usually find me researching and learning about the training methods of the world's elite professional armwrestlers.

    Harvey Meale