one look at an experienced arm wrestler, and you will see just how important
forearms are to arm wrestling! Forearm and wrist strength is absolutely
vital to the arm wrestler for several reasons, the first being leverage.
Arm wrestling is a leverage sport. You try to obtain leverage with your
body position, your hand position, your arm position, and even your foot
The leverage gained
by superior forearm and wrist strength is perhaps the most important leverage
of all. I am no physics major, but I know that the force a lever can exert
varies inversely with the distance from where the force is exerted to
its fulcrum. In arm wrestling, being able to curl your wrist reduces this
distance and therefore increases your force tremendously! If you don't
believe me, try arm wrestling someone who curls their wrist while you
do not curl your own wrist. Now try again, but this time, curl your wrist
as well. It should now be obvious to you how important this leverage is
to an arm wrestler.
The wrist is also
of tremendous importance to the arm wrestler. Being able to torque your
wrist more forcefully than your opponent will result in your gaining better
(and higher) hand position. Lever lifts are great for this type of strength.
Additionally, this sort of wrist strength is extremely important to creating
backpressure. If your wrist strength is not able to match the strength
of your forearm and bicep, your wrist will bend unfavorably toward your
opponent. This will put your wrist in a weak position, which is quite
common in arm wrestling due to weak wrists. Toprolling in this position
is not comfortable, to say the least. It can result in slipped grip, which
leads to the straps. In rare cases, it can even lead to injury. Most importantly,
it is difficult to win if your hand is not high. For this reason and others,
developing great wrist strength is very important!
Just in case you are
not yet sold as to the importance of forearm strength to arm wrestling,
try this experiment. Perform a gruesome forearm workout and, at its immediate
conclusion, arm wrestle someone of comparable strength and experience.
Now, wait a few days, perform a gruesome workout for any other muscle
groups (making sure your forearms are fully recovered), and arm wrestle
the same person. Experiment with as many muscle groups as you like; in
the end, you will find that forearm fatigue affects the outcome of these
matches more than any other muscle group!
Let's start by getting one thing straight: Wrist curls, by themselves,
are NOT sufficient! You must do more than that if you intend to be a good
For this exercise, you need a lever with a weight on one end, such as
a sledge hammer. I recommend that you purchase the Hammer Bar, as it has a 2.5 inch thick handle where you grip it and was designed specifically for this exercise,
or the Heavy Handle Dumbbell with the 2-inch thick
handle. The Hammer Bar is the device in the pictures below. It is better than a narrow
handle because it better simulates the feel of gripping up with someone
and will therefore lead to more functional strength.
The exercise itself is very easy. Lift the weight by pivoting at the wrist
rather than moving the arm. Look at the pictures below to see how to perform
lever lifts to the front:
The next exercise
you should perform is lever lifts to the back rather than the front. Again,
keep the arm stationary and only move at the wrist. The exercise is pictured
Hercules Bar Reverse Wrist Curls: This exercise will absolutely BLAST your forearms! I guarantee you that your forearms will never have burned like they will burn after a couple of sets with the Hercules Bar! Not only will your forearms be tired, but even your fingers will be worn out. Don't do this exercise if you need to type something on the computer shortly thereafter, because your fingers just won't move like they normally would!
If you do not have a Hercules Bar, you can try to perform this exercise with just a regular barbell. The problem with a regular barbell, though, is that when you use heavy weights the bar will slip out of your hands at the midway point. This is caused by the fact that only your thumbs are below the barbell. Because your thumbs are significantly weaker than your forearms, you will not be able to build strength with only a traditional barbell. In other words, your thumbs are the limiting factor and you won't ever really hit your forearms.
The Hercules Bar works much better, because there are pads that go across the back of your hands. The pads spread the weight of the barbell across the back of your hands, so that your thumbs no longer limit your forearm development! It is impossible for the weight to slip out of your hands, enabling you to really blast your forearms. See the pictures below.
Notice in the pictures below that you can even do this exercise without even having to hold the barbell, due to the pad that goes across the back of the wrist. This allows you to concentrate on working your forearms and not just your thumbs.
You can also view a video of how to perform this exercise.
Lying Lever Lifts: The next exercise
you should perform is what I call lying lever lifts. I don't have a very
good picture of these, but the basic thing is that you take your lever
(probably with a much lighter weight on the end) and perform the exercise
like in the pictures below:
you should perform for your forearms are:
To perform this exercise, you will need two small towels. Place each of
them over a pullup bar so that they are spaced on the bar a distance about
equal to your shoulder width and so that equal portions of each towel
hang over each side. Now, grab the part of each towel that hangs over
the bar so that your palms face each other and your thumbs would point
up if you extended them and perform pullups. Not only will you be strengthening
your lats and biceps, but you will also be strengthening your grip as
well as your wrists!
I am sure you are familiar with these, so I will not go into much detail
here. A barbell or dumbbells will work just fine, but the best feel of
all is probably the Heavy Handle Dumbbell. Make sure
to switch it up on your range of motion. One set, you should go to full
extension and full contraction, and then the next set you should add weight
and perform only the middle 3/5ths of the movement. To find out how your
forearm curl strength stacks up to some of the best arm wrestlers in the
world, click here!
Curls: This exercise is just like regular wrist curls, except
that you perform only the top half of the movement. In other words, you
start the movement with a straight wrist and curl all the way up to full
contraction. Below is a picture of World Champion Arm Wrestler Steve Phipps
performing this exercise with 360 pounds!
Be sure to check out how your strength stacks up on this exercise to the top arm wrestling champions!
BOOK: If you are interested
in learning the moves above in much greater detail, as well as several
advanced moves, our Ultimate Guide to Professional
Arm Wrestling Technique might be just
what you are looking for. Topics
covered in the book include how to come back from a losing position, more
arm wrestling-specific exercises, and how to win at arm wrestling on the
surfaces other than an arm wrestling table (across a kitchen table, on
the floor, and in bars), as well as many others.
We also offer a video, Secrets of Pro Armwrestling,
that details how to win at armwrestling and features several world champion
armwrestlers! To learn more about the video, click here.