Arm Wrestling Workout

arm wrestling workout

Here’s an arm wrestling workout that will give you the upper body strength to pull the arms off of anyone in the bar. That is, if you actually know how to arm wrestle. It will definitely help you at your next tournament.

This routine is designed with arm wrestling in mind, but it’s great for anyone who wants more upper body strength. After all, arm wrestlers have some of the best upper body strength when compared to other strength athletes.

If you don’t believe me, just search YouTube for Devon Larratt vs The Mountain. Yes, The Effin Mountain, or “The Mountain That Rides” for you book readers. If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, The Mountain was played most recently by Hafthor Bjornsson. Hafthor is a world class, record holding Strongman.

Schedule for the Arm Wrestling Workout

If you want to follow a traditional workout schedule, you’ll do up to 8 sets of each exercise in 1 workout. You’ll repeat the workout about every 3-5 days depending on your ability to recover.

However, I recommend following my own method of low volume sets and high training frequency. In this case, you would do this arm wrestling workout up to 5 times a week, only doing 2-3 sets per exercise in each workout.

Following this method will minimize the soreness so that you can still pull your training partners. The goal for this arm wrestling workout is neurological adaptations, not hypertrophy. Therefore, we’re not looking for a lot of muscle damage and soreness.

How To Read the Arm Wrestling Workout

Supersets will be denoted with a capital letter followed by a number such as “A1” and “A2.”

Tempo will be expressed as a 4 digit number/letter, i.e. 40X0.

  • The first digit is the number of seconds you should take to lower the weight.
  • Digit two is the number of seconds you should pause at the bottom.
  • The third digit is the number of seconds you should raise the weight. An “X” means you should move explosively.
  • Finally, the last digit is the number of seconds you should pause at the top.

The “X” does mean EXPLOSIVE. Don’t just put forth the minimum effort. Lift that weight with the same intensity you use on the table. When the weight heavy, it might take a few seconds to get the weight all the way up. Don’t sweat it. That’s what you want when you want to build speed.

I know it seems a little over the top (excuse the pun), but you’ll see where the tempo plays a critical role in this arm wrestling workout.

Some Basic Guidelines for the Arm Wrestling Workout

  • Never take any set to complete failure unless otherwise noted. Always leave at leas 1 rep in the tank.
  • Follow the tempo and rest exactly as instructed.
  • Don’t take more than 2 days off in a row.
  • All reps must be completed with perfect form in order to consider the set successful.

If you follow this workout exactly as I’ve written it, you will see your strength and your arm wrestling improve.

Intensity In the Arm Wrestling Workout

When following my method of training frequency, you will alternate the volume and intensity very slightly in every workout. The first workout will have you doing 2 sets of 2 reps with a 3RM load (always leave 1 rep in the tank). In the next workout, you will do sets of 3 with the same load.

If you do these workouts on back to back days (which you should), then the 3RM load you used in the first workout will become a 4RM load in workout 2. Since you didn’t overdo the volume in workout 1, you will see a potentiation effect on your strength in workout 2. That’s how the 3RM becomes a 4RM in 1 day. It’s beautiful.

It also means you could do this arm wrestling workout right before your arm wrestling practice, and you should actually pull a little better due to the potentiation effect.

If all goes well in workouts 1 and 2, then you will increase the weight by 4-5% (but not more than 10 lbs) in workout 3. You will go back to 2 sets of 3 with this new, heavier weight. Continue this pattern throughout the program.


If you take too many days off, you will start to lose this effect, and you’ll get set back. So try not to miss workouts. You can make the schedule however you want, but don’t take off more than two days in a row.

Exercises In the Arm Wrestling Workout

A1. Rack Pulls From Just Above the Knees

Arm Wrestling Workout

We’re starting the arm wrestling workout with what is partly a lower body exercise. This will work both the upper and lower back, as well as the glutes. Training these muscles tends to make the whole body stronger. Not to mention, this movement is used in serious arm wrestling matches. If nothing else, it will help you with your post. Keep the lower back flexed tight the whole time.

Try to use a double overhand grip with no straps. I recommend a false grip (thumb on the same side as your fingers) because it will better mimic the finger position of arm wrestling.

You can use a mixed grip if you need it, but we want to keep the grip strength in the lift since this is for arm wrestling. However, don’t get carried away and use fat grips. We are trying to train the back and glutes with this exercise.

  • 2×2 with a 3RM load on day 1. 2×3 with the same load on day 2.
  • 32X1 tempo.
  • Rest 3 minutes, then move to A2.

A2. Close Grip Bench Press With Chains

Arm Wrestling Workout

The next exercise in our arm wrestling workout is for your triceps and chest. Hands should be about shoulder width apart. We want this to be mostly a triceps workout for those finishing presses on the table. Go with a hand spacing that’s most comfortable for you.

For more info on using chains, read my post about how to use chains and bands.

  • 2×2 with a 3RM load on day 1. 2×3 with the same load on day 2.
  • 42X2 tempo.
  • Rest 3 minutes, then go back to A1.

When you successfully complete all the reps for the second workout (2×3 without going to failure) increase the weight by 4-5% (but not more than 10 lbs) and go back to 2×2.

B1. Supinated Grip (palms facing you) Chin-Ups with Fat Grips

Arm Wrestling Workout

This may be the most important exercise in our arm wrestling workout. The fat grips are essential here. They will work the forearm and wrist muscles to help you with your hook. NO KIPPING. If you don’t know what kipping is, then you’re probably good to go. Just keep the form strict. This is an upper body exercise.

  • 2×2 with a 3RM load on day 1. 2×3 with the same load on day 2.
  • *Special eccentric tempo. See below.
  • Rest 3 minutes, then go to B2.

*Your tempo here will be very special. We’re going to train those positions on the table where your arm is being stretched away from you and you’re fighting to keep from being pinned. Here’s how it will work:

For your sets of 2, you will pause for 5 seconds when you get half way down the lowering  (eccentric) portion of your reps for set 1. For the second set, you will pause when you get 3/4’s of the way down on your last rep and hold for as long as you can. This will take some testicular fortitude.

For your sets of 3 on the next day, you will do the same. The only difference being you will wait until the 3rd rep of the last set to do your 3/4 pause for as long as possible.

Keep these pauses in mind when deciding how much weight to hang from your waist. Remember you don’t want to go to complete failure until you do that last pause. On that note, remember to add your body weight to the load when you calculate your 4-5% increases.

B2. Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Arm Wrestling Workout

I recommend doing these with fat grips as well, but you can choose not to.

  • 2×2 with a 3RM load on day 1. 2×3 with the same load on day 2.
  • 50X0 tempo.
  • Rest 3 minutes, then go back to B1.

This will hit the elbow flexor muscles from the opposite end of their range. Use a nice, far-back incline to get a good stretch on the arms. Try to go more than 45 degrees.

You may also have notice by now, that I use a lot of very slow eccentric (lowering) tempo speeds in my arm wrestling workout. These are very good for increasing strength in most cases. With this exercise, we’re mostly working the brachialis muscle. It’s a round muscle on the outside of the arm. It is the primary elbow flexor muscle and it likes (or dislikes depending on how you look at it) a very slow eccentric.

The pauses in the tempo of the arm wrestling workout are important as well. I put them in there to give the muscles a tiny bit of rest within each rep. This is good for training the nervous system for strength gains. The rest gives your CNS (central nervous system) just a little bit of time to recoup itself for the next rep.

C1. Forearm Pronations

Arm Wrestling Workout

This one was inspired by Devon Larratt. You can do these with a triceps rope on a cable machine, or you can do it like Devon and tie a sheet or a towel or use a strap around a weight. Grab the cloth in your fist with your palm up. Rotate your hand towards the center line of your body. This will work on your top rolling abilities.

The reps will be much higher for these next two exercises. That’s just the only good way to train the forearms (and calves). You will take these to failure. The forearm muscles can handle it.

I’ve read from Charles Poliquin that he’s found mechanics to have the strongest grips. He believes it’s due to the daily wrench turning. I found that very interesting given that John Brzenk is an airplane mechanic. Not that I think that’s the sole reason for his success, but it is very intriguing.

  • 2×20 on day 1. 2×25 on day two with the same weight. (Still using the 4-5% method)
  • 1020 tempo
  • Rest 90 seconds, then move to C2

You can do these one arm at a time or both. Whichever you prefer.

C2. Hub Grip Holds

Arm Wrestling Worbout

The last exercise will focus specifically on the fingers, which we call a precision grip. If you don’t have a hub grip attachment and loading pin, I recommend a loadable, Olympic size dumbbell. Check out my post on grip strength training for more info. If you prefer to buy the hub grip, just click on the picture just above this. Search for “hub grip.” You may also want to search for a “loading pin” to go with it.

  • Hold in each hand for 2 sets of 30 seconds. If you can go over 30 seconds, the weight is too light.
  • No Tempo.
  • Rest 90 seconds, then go back to C1.

Additional Exercises for the Arm Wrestling Workout

You may also try two other exercises if you have the time. Farmers walks a rope climbing are both great for arm wrestling strength.

Rope climbing is great for upper body and hand strength, as well as endurance. Farmers walks also work the grip, but they also work some of the torso muscles you might use in a pull. You can learn more about farmers walks in my post on Strongman Training, and I do strongly recommend using actual farmers walk handles. You don’t get all the benefits with other implements.


I know this arm wrestling workout will improve your game on the table.

Follow this arm wrestling workout program for 6 weeks and please tell me in the comments how it went. If you have any questions, email me at

As always, thanks for reading,



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