How to Beat a Bigger Guy at Arm Wrestling

At some point or another, you will be in a bar. You will say something seemingly innocuous, maybe just a touch too loud. A muscly mountain of a person — it may even be The Mountain himself — will overhear, take offence, and challenge you to that most ancient and primal form of one-on-one combat: an arm wrestle.

Have no fear. (Well, if you’re going up against The Mountain, it’s OK to have a little fear.) To give you a fighting chance, we talked to professional arm wrestling legend John Brzenk and asked him to tell us everything you need to know to pin an oversized opponent.

 The Set-Up

Back straight, hips against the table, hand in the centre of your upper body and aligned with your nose. Place your index finger over your thumb and point your knuckles towards the ceiling. Curl your wrist as much as you can get away with. In competition, the wrists must be straight; at the Duck Inn Waddle Out, nobody is likely to notice or care. One last thing: try to set up as close to your chin as possible. Ideally your elbow is closed as much as possible and his arm is as straight as possible.

The Start

When you hear “Go” and Barbell Billy hits sideways, you will pull backwards (back pressure) using your elbow as a fulcrum and leveraging your hand upwards — always keeping your knuckles skyward. Your arm is a crowbar, your elbow the pivot; use all your body weight to drive your hand upwards. Knuckles up, always knuckles up.

The Fight

You are trying to bend Dumbbell Danny’s wrist backwards. If the wrist flops, great. If it doesn’t — don’t worry. You are pitting your body weight against his fingers so his wrist will flop eventually or his fingers will open.

The Pin

You’re pulling backwards, knuckles high, using the elbow as a fulcrum for your body weight. Bend at the hips and lean your entire body left. Concentrate on pulling against Jock Strap Joey’s fingertips and smashing him to the table.