Home » How Do You Train Pronation For Arm Wrestling?

How Do You Train Pronation For Arm Wrestling?

Pronation Training For Arm Wrestling

After cupping strength, most athletes agree that pronation is either the second or third most important strength to develop in order to have success in the sport of arm wrestling.

Pronation in arm wrestling is developed by performing exercises characterized by the wrist rotating inwards on the transverse plane which engages the pronator muscles of the forearm.

This article will look at exactly what pronation is, why it’s a key component of any well-rounded puller’s game, and what the best ways to train for pronation in arm wrestling are.

I’ve compiled some expert pronation training advice as well as created a list of the most valuable pronation training equipment you can use to efficiently hit this muscle group.

What Is Pronation In Arm Wrestling?

Pronation is the inward rotation of the forearm. Think of it as internal rotation of the forearm on the transverse plane – basically twisting your forearm inwards.

Pronation In Arm WrestlingImage Source

Above we see coach Ray of Voice Of Armwrestling demonstrating pronation – he’s also posting/curling his arm upwards, but you will notice how he twists his forearm around – that’s pronation.

The pronators are used in a variety of sports, but no sport makes as much of a point about training these muscles as arm wrestling does.

It’s one of the most noticeable differences between an arm wrestler and a complete amateur. Most people won’t train pronation ever in their lives whereas elite arm wrestlers are doing hundreds or thousands of reps targeting these muscles every week.

Why Is Pronation So Important In Arm Wrestling?

It plays a far more significant role in the top roll than it does in a hook, so it’s absolutely imperative that outside pullers are training pronation regularly.

Offensively, having strong pronation allows you to attack your opponent’s fingers in an attempt to crack their wrist with the objective of establishing hand control. Pull that off and the match is going to go your way the vast majority of the time.

Defensively, as soon as your pronation goes, you lose access to a lot of posting strength/back pressure as your brachioradialis is neutralized. Your bicep is exposed, your wrist will probably go with it, and defeat looms near.

Inside arm wrestlers can’t ignore the aspect of pronation entirely as it still plays a role in this style of arm wrestling. It’s of particular value when deep in a hook as it’ll help prevent you from being fully supinated and completely losing hand control.

 

Best Pronation Exercises For Arm Wrestling

I’ve compiled a list of several really effective arm wrestling exercises for training pronation. Some of these are super simple and require very little equipment and others are slightly more elaborate.

By no means do you need to include all of these exercises to adequately train your pronators. Give a few a go and select just one or two that you like the most and start doing them regularly.

There are slight modifications you can make to all of these exercises to alter the training focus slightly, giving you well rounded pronation development with only a few core movements.

Below the list of exercises I’ve included some training tips and advice to get the most out of your pronation training.

Towel & Belt Pronation Exercises For Arm Wrestling

The simplest and easiest way to start training your pronation for arm wrestling is to simply grab a towel or judo belt, attach some weight, wrap it around your wrist and begin pronating!

Towel Pronation Training For Arm WrestlingImage Source

To do this exercise, hang onto something with your other hand for support and be sure to lean forward slightly.

You should start the movement with your forearm parallel to the ground (which is when there will be the most tension on your pronator). In other words, try to avoid leaning backwards too much as this will remove tension from the pronator.

You can experiment with either partial range of motion (shown on the left) or a larger ROM (right).

As a general rule, the further you are away from competition, the more often you should use a full range of motion and the closer you get to competing, the more likely you’ll be to use a shorter ROM with heavier weights.

Anywhere from 6-15 repetitions for this exercise is fine.

Isolation Training For Pronation In Arm Wrestling

The idea of isolation training is to target only the pronators. In the above towel pronation exercise, you can see how posting is being involved which makes that exercise more of a compound movement.

Isolation Pronation Exercise For Arm WrestlingImage Source

To start this exercise, rest your arm flat on a bench with your wrist off the edge. A judo belt works best for these. Wrap it around either your wrist, thumb, or knuckles and practice the pronation motion for 8-20 reps for 3-4 sets.

A judo belt is a must have piece of equipment for anyone serious about arm wrestling. They’re super cheap and versatile and won’t rip like an old towel will! This is the one I use and recommend.

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FUJI Sports Belt

Different Styles = Different Grips

Different styles of pullers will prefer using slightly different grips here. Low hand top rollers like to initiate pronation from the wrist but most people drive pronation through the thumb. If the posting top roll is your thing, wrap the belt around your knuckles.

Isolation Training Is Great For Pronators Specifically

Generally speaking, we want to train pronation in conjunction with other arm wrestling movements such as back pressure, cupping, and posting. This is usually desirable because it has the most carryover to actual arm wrestling.

However there is certainly a time and place for isolation exercises like these. This is a great way to condition the pronators to become accustomed to constant use on the arm wrestling table. It’s also a great way to drive blood flow and help heal any elbow inflammation you may have.

Oftentimes it’s difficult to mix pronation with posting/back pressure because the weight required will be too much for the pronators and too little for the back and biceps. By isolating the pronators, you can use the perfect weight to max out these muscles.

Pad Or Pack Behind Your Hand

When doing these, especially when using a judo belt, it’s a great idea to pad the back side of your hand which will help maintain tension on your pronators throughout the entirety of the movement.

Packed Pronation Exercise For Arm WrestlingImage Source

You can easily do this by just rolling up a cloth or towel or t-shirt and wedging it between your hand and the belt.

This will up the tension on your pronators and keep it there – if you don’t pack, there is no tension on the pronators at the beginning of the movement.

Static Training For Pronation In Arm Wrestling

As you know, isometric holds are one of the best ways to develop strength in the sport of arm wrestling. There’s a couple of really effective ways you can implement this static training into your pronation training.

The first way is really simple. You simply wrap a padded belt around your hand, attach it to a cable/pulley system, and hold the ‘fully pronated’ position for 8-25 seconds.

Static Pronation Training For Arm WrestlingImage Source

The reason this exercise is so effective is because it trains the specific ‘locked out’ pronation angle which is where we’re really strong.

We want to maintain that full pronation throughout a match. Most of these exercises train pronation when you’re in a more compromised position (i.e. not maximally pronated and trying to achieve max pronation).

The next variation of this static hold is to attach a resistance band to a weight, get both hands into the fully pronated position and hold.

Static Resistance Band Pronation Training For Arm WrestlingImage Source

Again you can pack the outside of your hands to make this one more difficult. The bands create some dynamic tension which is more representative of arm wrestling a human than doing plain static holds.

Low Cable Pronation Training For Arm Wrestling

This is one of the best exercises you can do in any gym with a cable machine and a judo belt (you could probably make do with a towel).

Cable Pronation Exercise For Arm WrestlingImage Source

Your body should remain fairly static here and you should lock your elbow into your side. You want the cable angle to be at roughly 45 degrees.

You can experiment with full range of motion or stick with the smaller ROM, both are worthwhile. The smaller the ROM, the heavier the weights you can use.

This exercise is unique in that there’s quite a bit of side pressure going on which adds an extra dimension to your pronation training.

Table Pronation Training For Arm Wrestling

This is one of the best exercises you can do on a half table + pulley system. If you have access to a setup like this, you’ll likely see better progress with your pronation as the angles most closely replicate a real arm wrestling match.

Table Pronation Exercise For Arm WrestlingImage Source

You can do all sorts of variations on this basic movement. Experiment with large and small ranges of motion.

Practice adding back pressure and side pressure so that you’ll get better at deploying pronation in a real life scenario.

 

Pronation Training Tips & Advice For Arm Wrestlers

I’ve compiled a few pointers to help you get the most out of your arm wrestling pronation workouts.

      • Pad or pack behind your hand wherever possible – As we’ve discussed, when your arm is in a neutral position, there’s no pronation stimulus. By wedging a towel or cloth in between the back of your hand and your belt, you’ll keep those pronators switched on throughout the entire range of motion.
      • ‘Initiate’ your pronation from multiple locations – I discussed this a little bit in the isolation training section above. Essentially, you can hit your pronators in slightly different ways by thinking about where you’re initiating the movement from. You can use your wrist, thumb, or knuckles. Play around with where you’ve wrapped your belt around your hand and think about whether you’re driving through the wrist/thumb/knuckles. By positioning the resistance higher on your hand (knuckles), you’ll get better at defending against a top roll where it’s important to keep both the pronator and rise in tact. Similarly, if it’s attached low on your wrist, it’s simulating a high hook defensive position.
      • Focus on the ‘maximally pronated’ position when doing isometrics – In an ideal world, you want to start a match as pronated as possible and maintain this position throughout. When we’re locked into that maximally pronated position, we’re really strong. As soon as we’re actively trying to add/increase pronation during a match, we’re already in a compromised position. By making our fully pronated position super strong (through static holds), we can avoid getting into a bad position to begin with.
      • Pronate in all ranges of motion – It’s important to be strong everywhere, so remember to occasionally do full range of motion movements. For pronation exercises this’ll look like allowing your arm to open up completely into a fully supinated position before completely pronating again. Generally speaking you want to focus more on the narrower ranges of motion as they’ll be more specific to an actual match and will develop more strength.
      • Focus on training your pronator how you’ll use it – If your main weapon is the low hand top roll, you might want to train pronation a little differently to how someone who prefers a posting top roll would. In the former case, you’d benefit from initiating pronation with your wrist, whereas in the latter example, you want to drive pronation through the knuckles. It’s wise to be strong everywhere, but also smart to double down on your strengths and pronate in a way that you’ll actually end up using in a match.

I’ve also addressed a few of the most frequently asked pronation questions down below.

Is it better to isolate pronation (with a stabilized/locked elbow) or should I focus on incorporating pronation into other movements?

As a general rule, it’s always better to train as many arm wrestling forces concurrently as possible. Your objective is to replicate an actual arm wrestling match when training.

Having said that, it’s difficult to maximally stimulate your pronators while adequately training other aspects like back pressure, posting, and side pressure. The weight will often be too heavy for your pronators but too light for your post.

So I think it’s fine to make an exception for pronation training. So yes, go ahead and do all the isolation work you like. But also incorporate the aspect of pronation as much as possible when training other forces.

How often should I train pronation in arm wrestling?

This one’s really up to you. Some top arm wrestlers train pronation in some capacity almost every day whereas others only focus on it a couple times a week.

There’s no right answer here really.

The good news is these muscles don’t tend to get too sore and also respond well to lower loads with higher training volume.

Be sure to read my full article discussing how often arm wrestlers should train to learn more about this subject.

Can I train both pronation and supination in one training session?

Yes, you can absolutely do this. Here’s a pretty sweet exercise you can try which trains both supination and pronation at the same time.

Pronation & Supination Exercise For Arm WrestlingImage Source

Is a sledgehammer a good tool for training pronation in arm wrestling?

Not really. The issue with sledgehammers is that there’s only a very small range of motion where you’re actually getting good pronator stimulus. Once you complete that range of motion, you have to reset and rebalance the hammer.

Because you have to start the movement in a highly supinated position, they train the ‘weakest’ part of pronation. We want to spend most of our time close to the fully pronated position as opposed to the fully supinated position.

 

Best Pronation Training Tools & Equipment

Below are the only two products I use and recommend for pronation training. Just a plain old $7 judo belt as well as a wrist ball.

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Arm Shark Elliptic Wrist Ball

FUJI Sports Belt

The wrist ball is a total luxury for me but it’s one of the most versatile arm wrestling tools that is particularly useful for training pronation.

It allows you to get a much deeper pronation affect, particularly near the top of the movement, so it works similarly to packing behind the hand.

How To Use A Wrist Ball For Pronation Training In Arm Wrestling

You can use a wrist ball to replace any exercises which would otherwise use a judo belt. It’s simply going to do a better overall job at developing the muscles in your forearm.

Wrist Ball For Arm WrestlingImage Source

You can definitely do without these things, however there’s only so long you can use a towel before it’ll rip! Using a belt is a massive upgrade and using a wrist ball has been even nicer.

 

Parting Thoughts On Pronation Training

Pronation is what separates the boys from the men. It’s a strength that non arm wrestlers simply never work on and is one of the primary reasons they will lose to a seasoned puller every time.

You simply must be working on pronation regularly if you want to grow as an arm wrestler.

Finally, I want to give a massive shout out to Ray Liepins of Voice Of Armwrestling as well as Jason Costantini of Table Monkeys for featuring so frequently throughout this article.

These guys run absolutely fantastic YouTube channels which discuss in great detail the concepts I’ve mentioned here today, so be sure to check those guys out!