Arm wrestling is generally a competition that people go through to see who is tougher. The two competitors each grab one of the other's hands, set their elbows on a table, and try to push the other person's hand down. Generally, the person with the most upper body strength will win. Unless, of course, the weaker person plays his cards right.

Since you have to rotate your opponent's arm over, the amount of force you apply is only part of the equation. To get maximum rotation, you have to apply the maximum amount of torque. Torque takes into account not only the force applied, but also the length and angle to which the force is applied. This is apparent if you've ever used a torque wrench. A torque wrench allows you to turn things more easily by providing less or equal power, simply because its longer handle gives you more torque.

With that in mind, how does one apply that torque and win at arm wrestling? Simple common sense things are among the most important. In order to increase the distance you can apply force to, grip your opponent's hand as high as you can. Move your forearm as close to your bicep as you can. In organized arm wrestling competitions, the referee must be able to pass his closed fist in between a competitor's bicep and forearm. The more you try to compact your upper body, the more torque you will produce. International arm wrestling rules prevent techniques like this, but in an ordinary match against your friends, this knowledge is to your advantage.

The best arm wrestlers in the world have an extensive repertoire of techniques that they use. Every minute detail about their matches is carefully crafted. Before an official match, arm wrestlers have a full minute to get their grips ready. There are a few different grips that they use. When an arm wrestler puts their index finger over their thumb, this is called capping. Putting two fingers over the thumb, or double capping, is seldom done because an arm wrestler's thumb knuckle must be visible. Many arm wrestlers choose not to cap at all. Capping makes some of the techniques easier.

In addition to the different grips, there are three basic types of moves: the hook, the top-roll, and the press. The hook is what people do naturally to arm wrestle. It simply involves twisting your wrist and forearm to force your opponent's hand down quickly. If all goes well, you keep getting more force on it as you lean into it, and you eventually win.

The second main technique is known as the top-roll. The idea here is to slowly move your fingers up your opponent's hand and use that extra leverage to slam their hand down. It can be hard to keep your elbow on the table while doing this, so it requires a fair share of practice. It's definitely not a beginner's tactic. The top-roll is easier with a capped thumb.

The last major move in arm wrestling is known as the press, which is aptly named. The press involves one arm wrestler forcing another into turning their palm up. Once this is achieved, the aggressor can just press down on the other person's arm and the match is won. It can be difficult to bend the other person's wrist, but if it is successful, it is truly a crushing tactic.

There is an international body that governs arm wrestling, known the World Armwrestling Federation. In America, the main organization for arm wrestling is United States ArmSports, available through their web site at There they lay out very strict rules for competition.

Here are some general rules for arm wrestling competitions. An official arm wrestling table will have an elbow pad for the competing arm and a grip for the free hand. There are also lines that mark off the point at which a competitor has won or lost. A competitor's elbow must stay on the elbow pad. They must have a grip on the bar provided for the free hand at all times. A competitor is not allowed to purposely lose his grip on his opponent's hand. There are competitions for right and left hands, and for seated and standing competitors. For standing competitions, one leg must remain on the ground. For seated competitions, one buttock must remain on the seat. Seated competitions have two special rules in addition to that, and I quote here from
"Round dowel rods will be used for buttock fouls in sit down competition."
"Seat belts may be used for sit down competition."

For most of us, however, armwrestling is just a fun thing to do every once in a while. By imitating the techniques of the world's elite, you too can become a formidable arm wrestler.

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