How to Armwrestle

It may seem like arm wrestling is a battle of strength, but seasoned armwrestlers know that technique is critical. Armwrestling is a miniature combat sport. Here we will discuss some of the basics of armwrestling so you can start out safely and with some know how.

Safety First

As with all contact sports there is a possibility of injury. A lot of stress is placed on the body but luckily with some training and know-how the risk of injury is greatly reduced.

  • Protect yourself at all times! The best way to prevent injury is to stay out of a dangerous position. Keeping your body square is critical to avoid injury to the humerus bone. Never rotate your body away from your hand. The best way to do this is to ALWAYS LOOK AT YOUR HAND
  • Find a Group and Coach
  • Practice weekly

The Rules

Armwrestling has several different Leagues and Federations.   Each one has it's own variation on the Rules but the very basics are these:

  • Upon beginning, there must be a fist's width of space between your chin and your hand.
  • Your elbow must remain on the pad at all times.  It can slide across the surface of the pad but as soon as space is created between the elbow and the pad it is considered a foul.
  • Players must start only after hearing the call "Ready, Go!"
  • Your non-competing hand must be in contact with the peg at all times.  It is not necessary to grip it entirely, in fact as long as some part of your hand remains in contact it's fair play.
  • Upon beginning, at least one foot must be on the ground.  A leg can be wrapped around a table leg or braced against the table as long at your legs don't interfere with your competitor.
  • Upon beginning shoulders must be aligned square to the table.  As soon as the match begins the body can take any position. 
  • I pin is achieved as soon as any portion of the hand crosses the plane of the pin pads, it is not necessary to actually touch the pin pads or pin strings. 
  • Be a sportsman!  Unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated.

The Stance

  • When you step up to the table you're going to want to place the leg that corresponds to the competing hand forward.  If you're arm wrestling right handed then your right leg goes forward and vice versa.  As you compete, your weight will shift from your forward foot to your back foot.
  • Lock your hip into the bottom edge and the side of the table.  This will anchor your body and allow you to use the weight of the table to your advantage.
  • Your body should remain square to your competing arm.  Try to minimize the angle of your body to your arm.  This is to prevent injury. 
  • Keep your upper body as close as possible to your upper arm.  The idea is to keep in tight and not let your opponent open your arm because once these angles open you start to loose leverage. 

The Grip

  • When you and your competitor clasp hands try to place your hand as high and as deep as possible on your opponents hand. 
  • Lock your thumb nail in place underneath your forefingers.  This will set you up to get as much leverage as possible.
  • If a referee is used, the ref will help set the grip to insure both competitors have a neutral starting position.

The Moves

  • As the match begins raise the height of your wrist and attempt to open your opponents hand. This will cause them to struggle to maintain their grip.  If you are unable to do this then try too keep your wrist straight and not allow your opponent to use this move on you.
  • Think of armwrestling as a PULLING move.  This is why seasoned armwrestlers refer to their sport as "pulling" 
  • Draw your opponents arm towards your corner of the table with your bicep.  At this point use your entire body to pull your opponent and cause them to open up the angle of their arm. 
  • Rotate your body and position your shoulder in the direction you want your arm to go.  Doing this allows you to use your shoulder strength and body weight to win.  

The Special Techniques

This technique is handy when you and your opponent are similar in strength in either forearm, bicep or both. 

  • Curl your wrist inward which will extend your opponents arm.  This will require a lot of power in your bicep.
  • Force is delivered through your wrist directly to your opponents wrist.  Imagine creating a hook shape with your wrist attached to your opponents wrist.  
  • Get your shoulder over your arm and while keeping your arm and body tight, drag your opponent towards you as you then rotate over and push your opponents arm down.

The top roll is all about increasing leverage and using angles and levers to your advantage.  Putting extreme pressure on your opponents hand in an effort to open the hand makes it more difficult for him to use his muscles.

  • Push your elbow to the front edge of the pad.  This movement will increase the height and give you an advantage.  Try to achieve as high of a grip as possible on your opponents hand.
  • Pull your opponents hand away from their body and open it by rotating (pronating) your hand towards you.  Pull with your whole body.
  • Rotate your hand over and pull your opponent's wrist back.  Their palm should rotate towards the ceiling. 


  • Speed is essential.  Watch the referees lips and anticipate the word go.  Use all your strength in a short burst to shock your opponent.
  • Always pull towards you.  This takes your opponent out of his position of strength. 
  • Armwrestling uses every muscle in your body.  Especially train your back, biceps, forearm, wrist and hand.
  • Visualize the win in your mind.  Psychologically beat your opponent before the match even starts.
  • Keep your eyes on your hands
  • Stare down your opponent to intimidate him.  Show NO weakness
  • Invest in a proper armwrestling table!


Videos brought to you by the World Armwrestling League