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Can You Use Your Body In Arm Wrestling?

Using Your Bodyweight In Arm Wrestling

I often see amateurs get crushed in an arm wrestling match and then immediately start complaining that their opponent cheated by using all their bodyweight.

Yes, arm wrestling often requires leveraging your entire bodyweight to successfully pin your opponent and it is 100% legal.

Not only is it perfectly legal to use your bodyweight in arm wrestling, but it’s oftentimes completely necessary to secure victory.

In the rest of this article I’ll explain why this is the case and how you can safely and fairly use your body to help you win the match.


Use Your Bodyweight To Gain An Advantage In Arm Wrestling

Contrary to popular belief, arm wrestling isn’t about determining who has the stronger arm. It really is a display of whole body strength, or at the very least, upper body strength,

You’re using your back to drag your elbow to the back of the pad and expose your opponents bicep.

You’re using your forearms to cup, pronate, and supinate, manipulating your opponents hand and wrist.

At times you’re using your chest, triceps, and shoulders to flatten your opponent with a press.

Your core is engaged at all times to ensure tightness throughout the kinetic chain.

Foot and hip placement before gripping up is also important.

Almost every part of your body can be positioned in some way to give you a slight advantage over your opponent and to be successful you need to understand this and lean into it!

How To Use Your Bodyweight Effectively When Arm Wrestling Sitting Down?

Up until I was 18 years of age, I had never lost an arm wrestling match in my life. Then at work one day a colleague and I decided to arm wrestle while sitting around a coffee table in the staff room.

He was essentially kneeling on one side of the table and I, being a lot taller, was sitting on my ass.

I got absolutely flattened and it took me a while to figure out just what had happened.

The issue was that all of my bodyweight was ‘underneath’ my arm which was propped up on the table. I wasn’t positioned above and behind my arm like you are in a typical arm wrestling match.

Because of this poor positioning, I wasn’t able to activate my back or generate any side pressure. I was completely exposed and felt like I’d basically been cheated!

The reality was that I’d just cheated myself because I didn’t understand the role of body positioning in giving me access to my strength.

I don’t plan on doing a ton more seated arm wrestling around coffee tables at work, but here’s some practical advice for people to remember in case they find themselves arm wrestling seated.

Tips To Remember

      • Keep your chest line and shoulders above your knuckles during the setup – You need to keep your torso ‘above’ your arm in the setup, just like during a typical arm wrestling match. As soon as your fist/knuckles are parallel to your line of sight, you’re in trouble. If you get this right, you’ll be in really good position.
      • Hold onto the table with your opposing hand – This isn’t completely necessary but might help for balance. You should have something to replace the ‘peg’ that professional arm wrestlers use that you can hang onto.
      • Keep the match close to your torso – Don’t let your opponent set up too close to their torso. In a fair match, you’ll both start in the center of the table – an equal distance from each of your torsos. But even if you’re just an inch closer to your side of the table, it’s game over, you win.


How The Pros Skillfully Use Their Bodyweight In Arm Wrestling

In the sport of professional arm wrestling, the usage of bodyweight becomes very nuanced. Elite pullers look for every possible optimization they can make to give them the slightest leverage advantage.

Let’s take a look at some of the arm wrestling techniques that leverage as much bodyweight as possible and why they’re so effective.

The Dead Wrist Press: Sacrifice Your Wrist To Dominate Your Opponent

The dead wrist press is an arm wrestling move popularized by Jerry Cadorette which allows you to get your shoulder behind your arm and essentially tricep press your opponent to the pad.

Dead Wrist Press Arm WrestlingImage Source

To an amateur, this move looks like you’re cheating. If you tried this in a bar, you might get your teeth punched in!

But in the world of professional arm wrestling, this is a legitimate technique. It’s an uncommon move attempted by few and mastered by even fewer.

And it’s a great example of how you can really leverage your bodyweight to virtually body slam your opponent to the pin pad.

The King’s Move: Fight From Under The Table!

One of the more controversial moves which is often looked down upon by arm wrestling fans is the King’s Move.

King's Move In Arm Wrestling

This move is performed by lowering your body to the point where your arm is almost fully outstretched. In this position, the tension shifts from your muscles to your tendons and bones, allowing you to effectively rest your muscles while tiring your opponent out.

It’s a highly controversial and dangerous move and definitely not recommended for beginners!


Most People Have No Idea What The Rules In Arm Wrestling Are

It’s important to understand that unless they happen to follow the sport of arm wrestling, most people probably have no idea what’s acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to things like using your bodyweight and other rules.

When explaining to someone that it’s perfectly acceptable to leverage your entire body to gain an advantage, try to play it cool. You don’t want to seem like an expert praying on a complete beginner. It’s not a good look.

Other misconceptions surrounding arm wrestling are that you can’t bend your wrist (which you can, after the match has started), or hold onto something with your other hand to support yourself, which you also can.

It’s best to go easy on people who have no idea what’s going on and try not to be a complete stickler for the rules.


Be Aware Of Break Arm Position At All Times

One other important point that amateur arm wrestlers should be aware of is ‘break arm position’ which is where the wrist gets stuck outside the shoulder.

Break Arm Position In Arm WrestlingImage Source

Break arm position is where the wrist/arm is outside the shoulder and quite often the arm wrestler is looking away from their arm.

When the arm is in this position, it’s virtually impossible to contain the force using musculature alone and most of that tension goes onto the humerus (upper arm) bone.

I remember hearing years ago that if only 35lbs of force is applied to the humerus in this position, it’ll cause a spiral fracture.

You can watch arm break compilations on YouTube (if you have a strong enough stomach) and you’ll notice the common theme is spiral fractures of the humerus resulting from break arm position.

Whatever you do with your bodyweight during an arm wrestling match, make sure you avoid getting yourself into this incredibly dangerous position!


Closing Remarks

To summarize, it is perfectly acceptable to use your body in arm wrestling. The best arm wrestlers use their entire bodies in a variety of ways to gain an advantage.

If you’re arm wrestling someone just for fun and you’ve completely annihilated them, and afterward they start complaining that you were cheating because you weren’t just using your arm, send them this article!