How to Win at Arm Wrestling

A picture of an arm wrestling match.


Arm wrestling is often used as a trial of strength. However, while physical strength does matter, most people have no idea how to utilize it effectively, especially in this context. Improving your technique by adhering to the following guidelines can give you an advantage in arm wrestling, and allow you to beat significantly stronger opponents.

Note: the more of these tips your follow, the bigger your advantage will be. However, even following a few of them can be highly beneficial.


Body position

  • If you’re competing with your right arm, stand with the right foot forward (and vice versa).
  • Stand close to the table, so that your arm is near your body.
  • Keep your core muscles tight.


Hand position

  • Try to rotate your hand over your opponent’s, so that your forearm is in prone position.
  • Twist your wrist towards your body. (Together with the previous tip, this is known as a toproll)
  • Curl your thumb and get it underneath your own fingers for a better grip.
  • Climb “up” with your hand over the opponent’s hand by moving your fingers forward and re-gripping.
  • Keep a tight grip throughout.


Overall technique

  • Start tensing your muscles before the contest starts (but don’t cheat by starting to apply pressure on your opponent early).
  • Arm wrestling is about pulling, not pushing. Make a pulling motion with your hand, and move the opponent’s hand away from them and towards you.
  • Apply force with your back and shoulders, not just your arm muscles (again, using a pulling motion).
  • Rotate your shoulder and body in the direction you want your opponent’s arm to go.


The mental aspect

If the two of you are closely matched, the winner could be the one who hangs on longer, and who doesn’t give up. So, if you feel you’re getting tired, keep in mind that your opponent is likely feeling the same. Appear confident for as long as possible, and try to look like you can keep going all day.


The dangers of arm wrestling (the ‘break arm’ position)

Arm wrestling can lead to all sorts of injuries, the most common being a humeral fracture, which essentially means that the bone in your upper arm snaps in half.[1,2,3,4]


An x-ray of a humerus that broke during an arm-wrestling match.


However, you can reduce the risk of injury by avoiding the ‘break arm’ position. To do so, keep your arm perpendicular to your chest, and your shoulder in line with your arm. You should be able to look directly at your hand as it moves.

In the following picture, the person on the left is in the dangerous break arm position. Conversely, the person on the right is at the appropriate position, which protects his arm and minimizes the risk of injury. In fact, in some professional matches, the referees might stop the match if one of the contestants is too far from the appropriate position, and too close to the break arm position.


A picture showing the dangerous break arm position in an arm-wrestling match.


Summary and conclusions

  • Using proper technique can give you an advantage in arm wrestling.
  • Try to keep your hand near your body, and pull your opponent’s hand away from him.
  • Get your hand above your opponent’s hand, and curl it towards yourself.
  • Pull not only with your hand, but also using your back muscles.
  • To reduce the risk of injury while arm wrestling, avoid the break arm position by keeping you arm perpendicular to your body and in line with your shoulder.


How to Easily Improve Your Handwriting Speed

Handwriting is one of those skills that you generally learn as a kid, and then never try to actively improve it as you grow up. However, being able to write faster has some significant benefits, which are especially important for people who often need to write things by hand, such as university students:

  • Increased automaticity, which lessens the burden on working memory (i.e. you don’t have to actively concentrate on the act of writing, and you can focus on thinking what you want to write).[1,2]
  • Improved academic performance on exams.[2,3]
  • Better overlap between mental generation of output and text production (i.e. you can write immediately as you form your thoughts without a delay).[4,5]

Below is a collection of tips and strategies, which can help you improve your writing speed. Some of these can be implemented immediately with no effort, while others require a bit of practice. You don’t have to do everything that’s listed here. It’s fine to pick out even a single aspect that you want to focus on; you’ll still see a significant improvement in a small amount of time, and for only a minimal amount of effort.


Picture of a pen resting on a notebook.


Fix your technique

Good technique: Use your fingers as guides, and move the pen using the forearm and shoulder muscles. This allows you to write quickly without tiring out or getting cramps.

Bad technique: “Drawing” the letters using your fingers. Moving your wrist constantly. Repeatedly picking up your hand from the paper in order to move it across as you write. These issues slow down your writing, and cause your hands to cramp and tire out.

How to get it right: In order to get a sense of which muscles you should use, try holding your arm in front of you, while writing large letters in the air. Remember these movements, and try to implement them when you write on paper.


Don’t grip too tightly

People tend to this this subconsciously, especially when they try to write fast. However, this slows you down and tires your hand. Make sure to consciously remind yourself not do this, until it becomes natural.


Hold it whichever way is convenient

Surprisingly, your grasp (the way you hold the pen in your hand) doesn’t have much of an effect on writing performance.[5,6] As long as you’re comfortable, you can just stick with whatever works for you. Also note that when writing for extended periods of time, it’s natural to sometimes vary the way you hold the pen, so this is not necessarily indicative of a problem. If you decide that you still want to focus on this, it’s generally advisable to go with the “dynamic tripod grasp”.[6]


Maintain a Good Posture

Don’t slouch over the paper as you write. It puts unnecessary strain on your arm, and it’s bad for you anyway.


Use The Right Pen / Pencil

This one is easy to do without making any effort to change your writing technique. Things to pay attention to:

  • Use a good pen that doesn’t require you to press hard on the paper. This alone can make a huge difference, and a good pen doesn’t cost more than a few dollars, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t just buy one.
  • Pen thickness: Use a pen that isn’t so small that you end up having to squeeze it tightly. If necessary, put a small rubber grip on it. The right size obviously depends on how big your hand is, so experiment and find out what works for you.
  • Line thickness: there are advantages and disadvantages to different thicknesses (e.g. 0.5mm versus 0.9mm). Again, this is personal, so experiment and find what’s right for you.


Improve Your Writing Style

The best thing to do is to simplify the way you write the letters. This means that you should try to get rid of excessive marks and styling, as long as you can maintain legibility.

Regarding letter size: In theory, if you decrease the size of your letters, you need to move your arm less when you write, which should enable you to write faster. However, this is not necessarily true in practice, and reducing the letter size might end up slowing you down by making it more difficult for you to write. Since this is also something that varies from person to person, try to experiment and see what works for you.


Hardcore Mode: Use a Shorthand Writing System


A sample text written in Gregg shorthand


Shorthand systems use simplified symbols and rules which take less time to write than regular orthography. The symbols can replace letters, common letter combinations, sounds, or frequently-used words. You can either learn an existing system, or develop your own. Commonly-used shorthand variants include Gregg, Pitman, and Teeline.

One of the ways to benefit from the use of shorthand without having to put a lot of effort into learning it, is to focus only on a small number of words which appear frequently in the language.


Examples of frequently-used words written in Pitman shorthand


Keep in mind that the more you rely on shorthand, the more difficult it is for others to decipher your notes. This can be either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your perspective.


Summary and Conclusions

  • Improving your handwriting speed can have significant benefits.
  • There are a lot of things you can do in order to write faster, such as loosening your grip, writing with your arm, and maintaining a good posture.
  • It’s not necessary to put a lot of effort into this. Even focusing on a single, minor adjustment can make a big difference.