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Even though the names of professional arm wrestling champions are not household words, those who reach the top put in the same kind of serious training as athletes in better known sports. Arm and upper body development can make you a formidable arm wrestler, but the sport is more complex than it looks and brute strength doesn't always carry the day.
Hands, Wrists and Forearms
The hands, wrists and forearms are the primary areas you need to develop in order to arm wrestle with the elite. You need finger, hand and wrist strength to apply different pulling techniques used in competition. Workout exercises for building up these areas include plate wrist curls, standing barbell curls, reverse wrist curls, side and front hammers. Heavy hand grippers are useful workouts tools as well. At the beginning, train your hands and wrists just once every four days in order to avoid overuse injuries. Eventually work up to four or five hand and wrist sessions per week.
Other Muscle Groups
In addition to your hands, wrists and forearms, arm wrestlers focus on other muscle groups -- shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest and abs. All of these muscle areas come into play, especially when you are trying to pin your opponent. Standard weight-training exercises, such as curls for the biceps and triceps, crunches for the abs, chin-ups for the shoulders and bench presses for the chest are useful in developing these muscle groups.
Arm Wrestling Simulation Workouts
As professional arm wrestler Scott Latella states at the Straight To the Bar website, "The best way to improve in arm wrestling is to practice arm wrestling." After your workout buddies cry uncle, you can continue to practice by using tubing, exercise bands or a bike tube tied to a post or poll. Exercises include locking your arm at a 90 degree angle and walk backwards with the tubing. Or turn sideways and press as if you're trying to pin you opponent. Or pull on the tubing from different angles. You can also use a light band to practice explosive starts.
Technique and Tactics
Arm wrestling is not only a test of brute strength. Technique and tactics are vitally important as well. You learn such tactics and techniques mostly through competition -- "most of us wait a year before we win our first event," wrote one top arm wrestler at BodyBuilding.com. Techniques and tactics include different ways to pull and obtain leverage over your opponent, such as the top-roll or hook, keeping your hand one fist-length from your shoulder at all times in order to maintain maximum strength, and pulling your opponent's hand toward your nose at the start to surprise him and obtain leverage. "Arm wrestling is a leverage sport," says Latella. "Gain that advantage and your chances of winning skyrocket."
There is a significant risk of breaking your arm during a match, especially if you are a novice to the sport. Bodybuilding.com advises you to always look at your hand when you arm wrestle. Not only does it drastically lessen the chances of fracturing your arm, you'll be better equipped to focus on angles of attack if you keep your eyes on your hand.