I was thinking more along the lines of this…
On a side note, I do like this cable system with all the grips people use on the table. Would be a good addition for my basement gym. I just dont want to drop the $$ on a table lol, so think I am going to go through my shit and just make my own, my old man has some angle iron I can try and use for the frame, maybe 2x6’s or a couple 1" plywood to double up to 2" or maybe 3", will have to look up what standard size table are. I am sure there are videos on it online. But will have most of the shit in my garage already
Also checked out the arm bet app and it’s amazing how many guys are on there within 5 minutes of me.
Place the money it in your shirt pocket. You’re eyes should never lose sight of your wrist
Sounds like you’re serious.
Not to beat a dead horse, but an hour or 2 of table time with various opponents and working all the angles and positions until your arms are both blown up, is by far the best arm wrestling workout.
That said, traditional compound lifts combined with some intense arm conditioning focused variations, was a combination I found to be very beneficial.
Plus… we might not always have access to an equally motivated group of guys to pull with.
I can share some of the things that worked well for me if you’re interested.
It will likely turn into a FRAT… so not gonna bother unless someone wants to read it, lol.
He is known for having very strong fingers LoL!
Even Dave Chaffee has broken his arm, and that guy is in the 99 percentile of strength.
Got sure table time is the best training you can get, now that things are slowly starting to open up in Ontario it should be easier
I’m down for a FRAT if you want to share
Ok, FRAT warning.
If I overemphasize/explain things you already know, it’s not intentional.
So John Brzenk has always been about table time, with one recovery workout with weights per week – doing one set for each exercise.
I’m not one to question the GOAT, but we can’t all be John Brzenk. He started pulling at 13 IIRC and both his dad and brother were into it. So he had about 40 years of pulling, most of it at the highest levels.
I’ve met Brzenk, and he certainly looks like he lifted moret than he said – so his approach worked for him.
Travis Bagent is another example. I don’t imagine he has a shortage of guys to pull with on a regular basis, but he still makes other supplemental lifting a priority. He also has a completely different strategic approach.
Point is… everyone is different.
I can only speak to what works for me.
It probably goes without saying that combining 1 or 2 intense pulling sessions a week, with heavy lifting, can do more harm than good.
So some planning ahead is probably needed.
You might want to alternate lifting weeks with pulling weeks – with the occasional week of active rest with very light lifting mixed in.
I could ramble on about this… but the point is to customize things and listen to your body.
A note on arm conditioning:
Generally speaking, if you’re not used to pulling regularly, there is at least a year or more of potentially painful arm conditioning to work through. This is also the time period when newer arm wrestlers are in more danger of getting injured – especially if you are already very strong.
And that pain doesn’t necessarily stop then.
It’s stress on the tendons, more so than the muscles, that your arms have to adapt to – and tendons take longer to heal than muscles.
So taking it slow and careful is important.
For lifting, I like the tried and true compound lifts with heavy weights mixed with some lighter hypertrophy sessions.
The basic squats, bench press, dead lifts (if you’re into that), clean and press, pullups, rows, etc.
I do pullups with multiple grips, palms in, palms out, and neutral grip. I also like to use a fatter bar with the thumb over and work false grip.
Static hangs with a fat neutral grip while doing knee ups. Pullups are great.
I also like to add very heavy barbell cheat curls. Technically it might not be a compound lift… but you are still hefting and controlling a heavy weight – working in that arm wrestling range – and your core muscles are involved helping you control that.
I also like to add heavy close grip presses with the thumb under the bar, to emphasize the triceps.
I mentioned before that this lift might have contributed to re-injuring my arms – but I think that might have been more about pushing myself too hard before I was recovered.
Overall I want to be the strongest from head to toe, so that every muscle group or supporting muscle group activated while pulling, is already strong, and only need them to work together.
Forgot to mention Arnold presses.
Used to kill myself doing those.
You might hear some arm wrestlers say bicep strength is not the most important. While it’s true that other muscles are largely involved, it is still a point of emphasis for me for a few reasons.
- Static strength.
Even when not isolating the “curling” movement on the table, a very strong bicep provides provides static stability – especially IMO on the losing side of a hook.
- A strong bicep is necessary for the back pressure of a posting top roll. Think of a hammer curl. It’s heavy on the bicep, with an assist from the brachioradialis.
- A strong bicep along with the lat is necessary for a low dragging hook, when the arm tends to be more extended than is usually optimal.
Arm lifts/partial reps/and forced negatives:
Partial reps and forced negatives are great IMO when lifting for maximum arm strength.
Partial reps allow you to overload the muscle beyond what would be possible with a full range of motion. Of course, if I’m doing heavy partial reps, I also make sure to include some full range of motion lifts to balance things out.
Forced negatives, especially with curling movements, add another dynamic to the workout. Great for endurance and tendon strength IMO.
I already mentioned heavy cheat curls.
I like to do them with the EZ bar, alternating grips.
21s are good to incorporate some partial reps and for endurance.
A variation I prefer has 3 parts and incorporates forced negatives.
- Curl the bar normally with strict form (no cheating) through a full range of motion until almost failure.
- Set the bar down and count to 20.
Pick up the bar and do cheat curls, without a full extension, until failure (can use a spotter for last rep).
- Set the bar down and count to 20.
Pick up bar, and have a spotter help you lift the bar up to the top of the curl (so you minimize exertion). Then lower the bar as slowly as you possibly can doing a forced negative. Have the spotter raise the bar again, and repeat for reps until failure.
Optional: do a static hold of the bar half way down (90 degree angle) as long as possible for the last few negative reps.
I have also done these with an H-Bar, basically a barbell hammer curl.
Those 3 parts would be considered 1 set, and usually 3 sets of that is enough lol.
You can also do kind of a wrist curl during the mid range if the curl movement, to put more emphasis on the forearm.
Almost every bar I lift is wrapped with extra tape to fatten the grip.
I like to counter the partials with full range of motion lifts.
For arm wrestling, I like concentration curls.
I do them seated, bracing the arm against inner thigh. Very heavy weights with low reps and full range of motion. The idea is to curl the dumbbell very slowly, while supinating the wrist, then lower it slowly. I’m trying to imitate the strength and endurance of a long pull. I go till complete failure and have even used the off hand to help me finish the last rep.
Massive pump from these.
These lifts hit the forearms too, and the hammer curls get a lot of help from rom the brachioradialis.
More on forearms later.
A couple variations on traditional lifts I like:
One arm dumbell rows.
Kneeling on a bench, very heavy weight, alternating arms. Keeping the elbow close to the body and maintaining neutral grip.
Good for biceps and lats.
These can really suck the wind out of you.
Reverse grip barbell bent rows.
As opposed to the more traditional upright or bent row, this is done with palms facing up, slightly wider than shoulder width.
Another method of loading extra weight (more than you can curl) on the biceps, while also working the lats.
Partial barbell curls seated.
Another trick to pack on the weight, do barbell curls seated on a straight back chair. The movement starts on your lap at a little more than 90 degrees. Really hits that mid range of motion hard.
Of course, this all has to be balanced with tricep work.
Triceps for me are more simple.
Bench presses put in a lot of the work, supplemented by close grip presses and cable extensions.
I also like doing machine peck-deck for chest and shoulders, moving slowly for side pressure stability.
Both barbell and dumbbell wrist curls, and reverse wrist curls. Usually thumb under the bar (same side as hand).
I like the weight attached to a rope, rolling it up with the hands and wrists while keeping arm straight out, then slowly roll back to the ground.
Both ways, hands rotating toward you, and away from you.
As mentioned before, hammer curls hit the brachioradialis and brachialis in addition to the bicep.
A lot of guys use the Captains Of Crush and so have I. It’s great for grip and overall endurance.
Also, when you squeeze something as hard as you possibly can – more than just the forearm and arm muscles are activated. Your entire upper body and core tenses up to provide static assistance.
That said… a lot of arm wrestlers just use the lighter grips and do them for reps on an almost daily basis.
Grip strength is important, but it’s not some secret weapon. Hand size has a lot to do with grip strength due to better leverage.
Any time work one area hard, I always try to work the opposite movement or muscles to achieve balance and hopefully aid in injury prevention.
So this might sound silly, but after doing grippers I would usually wrap a few big rubber bands around my fingers and do extensions opening my hand against resistance.
It would certainly start to fatigue the upper forearm extendors. Beyond that I have no idea how effective it is. It’s just a rule of mine to always train the opposing movements to avoid imbalance.
As far as making special arm wrestling trainers using springs, innertubes, pullies, etc…
Some guys really get into that, and I have seen some pretty cool contraptions.
For me, I’ve used innertubes for side pressure.
I also have a bowflex that is great for downward winning position resistance (like a shoulder press), and long extended hook resistance while seated. Another thing I would do with a fat grip and a overhead cable, would be to pull down with my arm in tight and using small movements work on wrist bowing and cup strength statically.
Sledge hammers and weighted eids, etc.
These were good for various wrist movements basically getting a forearm pump.
Have done up and down, side to side imitating resistance to supinating the hand.
Stuff like that is kind of fun, but honestly it’s more of a supplement.
I would mostly do it at work because it was easy to do little weighted hand exercises throughout the day.
Given the choice, I would rather pull regularly and lift heavy.
A word on hammer curls, reverse curls:
I stopped doing them, and not sure if I will ever start again.
My injuries were to the common extensor tendon in both arms at the exact same place.
At it’s worse, anything neutral (palms in), or pronated (palms down) was killing me.
Bodybuilder and strong man Franco Columbo recommended to avoid reverse curls because these types of injuries are likely.
I used to love really digging into the reverse curls – but it seems Franco might have had a point.
So proceed with caution when considering these types of movements.
But arm wrestling will likely inflame your tendons either way, lol.
I feel like I’m forgetting something…
I’d like to find a local group. Very interested in trying this.
In terms of weightlifting, can we do leg work in the same week as the pulling sessions?
I watched those videos. Schoolboy tore through 90% of the Russian competitors but he did lose in the finals but it was close and the Russian guys elbow did slip off the mat. I still think he beat schoolboy but in no way did schoolboy get crushed by the Russian up and comers
Sure why not.
Probably a good idea.
I will say that unless your arms are just blown up all week, you should consider a shorter workout with low weight and high reps layer in the week, just to keep the blood flowing.
Then if you’re not pulling the next week, hit the weights twice.
Something like that.
Whatever works for you.
Awesome, thanks for that.
Watching arm wrestling on Youtube has been a saviour for me the past year during the pandemic. It has gotten me through times of boredom.
I pull for fun with my friends but am not serious enough to really get into it as I’m in my 40s and have no intention of becoming good or going on TRT or anything. My body is already suffering enough through BJJ lol.
But anyway, this is fun sport to follow and the guys in the arm wrestling community are pretty cool. I’ll continue to support the growth of the sport as it grows in popularity.
Just a heads up. Tomorrow is East vs. West in Instantbul with the main match being Matt Mask facing Ermes Gasparini. This will all be broadcasted on Youtube.
It starts at 12:00pm Eastern time on Ermes Gasparini’s Youtube channel. They’re going to get the main even over with first with Ermes vs. Mask.
Then head over to Voice of Arm Wrestling (Coach Ray) Youtube channel for the rest of the card.
Todd Hutchings vs Khadzhimurat Zoloev
Sarah Backman vs Irina Drieva
Tony Kitowski vs Bozhidar Simeonov
Herman Stevens vs. someone (sorry don’t have his name but he’s some Turkish guy so must be good).
This is a solid event run by Engin Terzi. Rooting for all the North Americans!
Let’s go Matt Mask! Ermes is favored heavily cine he’s put on a lot of mass but Mask is going to bring the intensity as always and I do think that he’s going to shock Ermes once again.
Pulling for Hutchings.
Saw him fall in a pool with his clothes on once.
This is a good event by the looks of it, pulling for Matt but as said Ermes is looking strong and put on the size.
Sarah Backman, what can I say, she is easy on the eyes and damn good
Was he eating your Jack Daniels ribs?
I’ll bet he did; you got him hammered & he “fell” in the pool.