Beginners Guide to Arm Wrestling

Table of Contents

You probably already know what arm wrestling is, right? People around the world, both young and old, know about it because, at some point, they tried it for fun. It’s also not only for men, so even women try it out too! But what seems like competing for fun, arm wrestling has come a long way. It’s a fantastic sport for displaying your strength and durability. However, there are many aspects of it that you probably don’t know about. So keep reading and learn more about arm wrestling 101, including some valuable tips that can help you win the next time you try! 

What is arm wrestling?

Arm wrestling involves two people locking their hands and resting their elbows on a table, and the person who can take down the arm first wins. So it requires good muscle strength on the forearms and the shoulder. It’s a fun sport and game for anyone up for it. 

Arm wrestling history 

Before diving into the details, it’s worth knowing a bit about the history of arm wrestling. According to historical evidence, arm wrestling dates far back as 200 BC. So it’s an ancient sport practiced across different civilizations and ages. But if the depictions are accurate, it seems to have originated in Egypt. It’s also a widely known sport and is centuries old and spread across different continents. As the years went on, it kept developing and what you see today is an adaptation of the Native American game.

One of the reasons why arm wrestling became popular amongst different people worldwide is its simplicity. You don’t need anything else except a table where you can rest your elbows! No wonder the game was popular amongst the youths and teenagers because they could have a quick game at school or in college. But it wasn’t until 1952 that it became a recognized sport.

Arm wrestling started to become a regular sport in schools and colleges, and Bill Soberanes saw this and founded the arm-wrestling sports tournament in California. The sport kept growing, and it paved the way for the foundation of the World Armsport Federation in the United States, which is the global governing body of arm wrestling.


Arm wrestling techniques 

Arm wrestling looks easy. But what most people don’t realize is that it involves techniques that can determine whether you win or not, and it’s not always about how big your muscles are. So here are some of the techniques widely used by professional arm wrestlers.


The hooking technique is a favorite amongst arm wrestlers and the most common one. This technique allows you to gain the upper hand by locking the opponent from fighting back. So how do you do this? It’s pretty simple. When you hold your opponent’s hand, curl your wrist so that you gain control over their hand. After that, you can start pressing and apply your strength to it. However, there’s a crucial element for the successful execution of this technique. Make sure that your arm is tucked close to your body and have a minimum gap as possible. It allows your arm to have more strength and stability. So make sure that you remember it when you play next time. It helps. 

Top roll 

The top roll is another excellent technique. But unlike the hook, this technique relies on your fingers. The idea is to get a firm grip by tightening your fingers over the opponent, and it does not require brute strength. But how does it help? Well, when you apply pressure on your opponent’s fingers, and it starts to loosen up, you get the upper hand. It allows you to execute a finish by using your strength when it opens up. It’s a very excellent technique for beginners. However, there’s a key element to this technique, and if you don’t know about it, the method is almost useless. 

When applying the top roll technique, always remember that you have to act quickly and get on top of the opponent’s hand once the fingers loosen up. You should also try to get more leverage by going higher over the opponent’s hand. If you remember this, it’s enough to apply this technique successfully. 


The press technique is all about strength and power. So if you are someone with great arms and muscles, this technique is perfect. The idea is to get your opponent’s hand face upwards once the game starts. Once you can do that, all you have to do is apply your strength and execute the finish. That’s why it’s called a power move because you dive straight into it. It’s also worth noting that you can apply pressure from your upper body and arm when you get into this position. But do keep in mind that if not executed correctly and in time, it can backfire against you. So unless you are sure about it and have the body muscle to go for it, try the other techniques first.


Arm wrestling rules 

Since arm wrestling is now a recognized global sport with a governing body, it has its rules and regulations for the game. So if you didn’t know about it, here’s a quick look at them so that you can get a fair idea about the sport.

  • Two referees officiate the game. 
  • No time limit 
  • Palm to palm grip over the table 
  • Thumb knuckle should be visible 
  • The other hand should grip the hand peg
  • Back pressure to drag your opponent is not allowed 
  • If any part of the opponent’s wrist touch the pad, it’s a valid win
  • Crossing your shoulder into your opponent’s area and dropping your shoulder below the pad level is not allowed. Touching any part of your body during the game is also considered a foul
  • You will get a maximum of two warnings (fouls) and will be disqualified 

Arm wrestling tips for winning 

Arm wrestling as an established sport has gained fans around the world. But the competition is tough for anyone, and there are many aspects of the game which determine a winner. There’s also a general misnomer that it’s all about your strength, but it’s partly false. Arm wrestling involves both your strength and careful execution of techniques, and many professional arm wrestlers stress the importance of technique. So if you want to win the next time you compete, here are some valuable tips that can make a difference. 

The stance is one of the first things you should know when competing. Always put your dominant foot upfront first because it leverages the body and torso weight into your arm. Positioning your body close to the surface is another critical element. Make sure that your hip touches the table because it narrows down the gap between your body and arm, which is crucial. That way, you can execute a finish efficiently and apply all the pressure you generate. 

Placing your hands slightly higher than your opponent is another helpful tip, and it gives you more leverage and control over his hand. Also, try and curl your opponent’s hand inwards so that you gain control. It weakens the opponent from applying strength, and it doubles the chances of you winning, provided that you apply pressure at the right moment. However, it may be challenging to execute this trick if your opponent is stronger. But don’t worry. There’s a way to get around that. Try and curl the opponent’s palm as soon as the game starts. Make it a surprise move and don’t allow him time to settle in. That way, you can increase your chances of winning even if the opponent is stronger.

Although it’s not always practical, tiring out your opponent is another helpful tip. Try to drop your wrist down. It makes it more challenging for the opponent to apply pressure. In the process, he gets tired, and that’s when you can perform a quick top roll and execute a finish. It’s highly effective in situations where the opponent is stronger. But if both your strengths are matched, try and apply the hook technique. Make sure you get into position first; otherwise, you will give away the leverage. 

Exercise tips for arm wrestling 

Like any other sport, you can also train your body for arm wrestling. But there are some specific areas where you need to focus. The wrists, biceps, fingers and triceps are the crucial parts of your body to develop to get better at arm wrestling. So here are a few exercises that you can try out.

Try the finger walk exercise with the help of a sledgehammer. For this exercise, use your fingers to hold the handle of the sledgehammer but don’t use your thumb. Make sure that the heavy end is at the bottom. Now run all your fingers down the handle holding the sledgehammer and repeat the process. It helps improve finger strength, which is crucial for arm wrestling. You can also use the same sledgehammer to perform a lever lift exercise. In this case, keep the heavy end above and use your wrists to maneuver and lift the hammer.

The dumbbell hammer curl is another exercise you can try. Stand and hold the dumbbells on both hands but make sure that the palms face sideways and the palms face inwards. Lift the dumbbells alternately as you bend the arms at the elbow. You can repeat the exercise for as long as you want, and it helps you develop a more muscular forearm. 

For developing your triceps, the bench press is the best exercise. You can do a standard rep of the exercise, and it will be enough to help strengthen your triceps.


How to avoid an arm wrestling injury 

Although arm wrestling is a simple sport, you can’t rule out the possibility of severe injuries. You can get long-term injuries if you don’t take care of yourself and if you don’t apply the proper techniques. Some of the most common injuries are minor strains, severe strains like muscle and ligament tear, and bone fracture. 

So how can you avoid these injuries? While it’s almost impossible to avoid them altogether, taking steps and measures to minimize the chances of injury goes a long way. Even the best in the world who are fit can have injuries. So the best option is to try and avoid any over-exertion of strength and keep your stance and techniques right. It’s also essential to eat well to stay physically fit and try to maintain a healthy diet that can strengthen the bones. Bone fractures are common problems, especially during arm wrestling because of the enormous amounts of pressure it endures. 

Who are the top arm wrestlers in the world?

As mentioned earlier, arm wrestling is a huge global sport, and every year, people worldwide compete for the World Arm Wrestling Championships. There are different categories like weight class and gender, and the World Armwrestling Federation organizes it every year. It’s one of the most significant Arm Wrestling events today, and it’s where you get to see some of the best arm wrestlers compete for the title. There are some world-class arm wrestlers, and in no particular order, here’s a list of them.

  • Todd Hutchings 
  • Devon Larratt
  • Levan Saginashvili
  • Vitaly Laletin
  • Niklas Nannestad 
  • Travis Bagent 
  • Engin Terzi
  • Dave Chaffee 
  • Rustam Babyev
  • John Brzenk
  • Khadzimurat Zoloev
  • Andry Pushkar 
  • Denise Cyplenkov and many more!

When is the next World Arm Wrestling Championship?

If you want to follow the World Arm Wrestling Championship, 2022 is the year for you. Azerbaijan will host the next event and is scheduled for 14th May 2022. So you can follow all the updates through the official website of the World Armwrestling Federation.


So these are some of the things you should know about arm wrestling if you are interested in the sport. There are many opportunities today for those of you who are passionate about it and want to go professional. So if you’re going to make it into a career, start arm wrestling, training for the sport and learn the techniques of arm wrestling in order to dominate your competition.


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