Since the dawn of time humans have been coming up with different competitions to determine who is the strongest. From MMA, wrestling, boxing, weightlifting to strongman all of these sports claim to produce the toughest and most powerful athletes.
Arm wrestling is another contest which claims to accurately measure a man or woman’s strength but does it? Let’s find out!
Does Arm Wrestling Determine Who’s Stronger?
Arm wrestling does determine the strength of a person’s bicep, wrist, hand and shoulder. However, there is a lot of technique involved which can allow a physically weaker athlete to dominate an arm wrestling competition. Professionals estimate that arm wrestling is 60% strength, 40% technique.
The two biggest predictors of your success in arm wrestling are your weight and lifts in the gym. That is because arm wrestling is a very strength based sport.
A 260 pound man who strict curl 160 pounds for reps is going to be incredibly strong at arm wrestling even if he has no technique. He would be a favorite against nearly all hobbyist arm wrestlers and could probably beat some lower tier pros just based on pure force.
However, this same man would be easily dominated by professional arm wrestlers his size even if they can’t move as much weight in the gym. That is because of the years and thousands of hours they have spent perfecting their technique.
Professional Arm Wrestlers Use The Following Techniques To Dominate Matches:
- Top Roll – The top roll position is all about curling your wrist towards your own body and attempting to get your forearm facing downwards. To establish this hand positioning you need move your hand over your opponent’s until their hand literally opens.
- Hook – When performing the hook you want to bring your hand as close to your shoulder possible while extending your opponent’s arm away from their shoulder. The key is to use your lats to pull on your opponent’s arm. You then need to curl your wrist and ensure you are driving down on your opponent’s wrist.
- King’s Move – This controversial defensive move involves dropping your entire body under the table. This strengthens your arm making it incredibly difficult to pin as your arm is being reinforced by an athlete’s entire body. Michael Todd is famous for this move and used it to avoid being pinned by Devon Larratt.
- Press – The press is all about using explosiveness and speed to instantly pin your opponent. To increase your success you want to wrap your hand completely around your opponent’s and turn your body so you are facing towards your arm.
Even though technique does play a large role in arm wrestling, strength is still extremely important. This is why all professional arm wrestlers spend hours in the gym lifting weights and building their strength. We will now look at the best exercises to improve your arm wrestling and the best predictors of arm wrestling success.
What Lifts Have The Most Carryover To Arm Wrestling?
Exercises and lifts with the most carryover to arm wrestling are weighted pull ups with neutral grip, hammer curls, strict barbell curls, wrist curls, cable rows, bent over rows, preacher curls, wrist curls on table.
As you can see via our list of ideal exercises for arm wrestling that wrist, bicep, forearm and back strength is critical. If you can develop world class strength in these key areas of your body you will be an absolute beast on the arm wrestling table.
Arm wrestlers will typically combine all of these exercises into a single workout and then perform that workout once or twice a week. They will often do a couple of warm up sets and then perform two heavy working sets in the 4 to 8 rep range.
The rest of their training days will be dedicated to specific arm wrestling training where they will be drilling their technique and sparring.
Don’t let anyone convince you that arm wrestling is all technique. All you need to do is look up the lifting numbers of the best arm wrestlers. You will be shocked at some of the weights that they are able to move. Denis Cyplenkov considered to be one of the greatest pullers of all time still holds the strict curl record at 249 pounds.
Let’s look at some freaky lifting records by great arm wrestlers:
Denis Cyplenkov’s best lifts
- Strict curl – 249 pounds
- Cheat curl – 400 pounds
- Bench press – 595 pounds
- Squat – 705 pounds
- Deadlift – 750 pounds
- Shoulder Press – 400 pounds
Levan Saginashvili’s best lifts
- Dumbell Preacher curl – 230 pounds
- Bench press – 550 pounds
- Seated barbell curl – 290 pounds
- Finger cable pull – 230 pounds
- Wrist curl on table – 230 pounds
Arm wrestling is a great test of a person’s bicep, shoulder, wrist and forearm strength. However, the sport does require a lot of skill which takes years to master. The skill element does allow professional arm wrestlers to easily beat strongmen, powerlifters even though those strength athletes can move more weight in the gym.
Arm wrestling is a blend of strength and technique. If you want to dominate arm wrestling you need to perfect your technique and lift heavy in the gym. The most effective exercises to build arm wrestling specific strength are:
- Weighted pull ups with neutral grip
- Hammer curls
- Strict barbell curls
- Wrist curls
- Cable rows
- Bent over rows
- Preacher curls
- Wrist curls on table
The best arm wrestlers in the world have amazing technique but are also freaky strong. Denis Cyplenkov and Levan Saginashvili are perfect examples. Both men can curl in excess of 100kg (220 pounds) and have hands made out of iron.