How to Win at Arm Wrestling and Avoid Injury

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 that 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.


The Stages of Learning: How You Slowly Become More Competent at New Skills

The four stages of skill learning (based on level of competence).


When you learn a new skill, the beginning tends to be the most frustrating part. Often, you’re not sure what you should be doing exactly, or how you should be doing it. This applies to everything from starting a new sport, to trying to speak a foreign language.

Luckily, the process of becoming better at new skills is relatively predictable, and can be broken down into different stages. Once you understand how it works, you will understand why the beginning is hard, and you will be able to identify your ‘position’ in the learning process. Overall, this will make you more aware of your abilities and more conscious of your learning, which will help you learn new skills better and with more motivation.


The levels of competence

  • Unconscious incompetence- in the beginning, you don’t know what you don’t know. You’re not entirely aware of what the new skill entails or what your goals should be. You make mistakes without realizing that you’re making them.
  • Conscious incompetence- at this stage, you know you’re still making a lot of mistakes, but you’re now at least aware that you’re making them. You still don’t know a lot, but you can recognize what you need to learn in order to improve.
  • Conscious competence- if you’re at this level, it means that you’re relatively proficient in the skill, so that you have a good understanding of it, and you make only a small amount of mistakes. However, performing at a high level still requires a significant effort on your part.
  • Unconscious competence- at this point, you are so well-practiced in the skill that you can perform at a high level with relatively little effort. For you, the necessary actions are now mostly instinctual and automatic.

These stages are often mentioned in discussions of learning theorySome researchers also propose a fifth stage, called “unconscious supercompetence”, which is similar to “unconscious competence”, but at a higher and more effortless level. However, because this stage is less clearly defined, it is less commonly referenced in literature. In reality, whether or not this distinction exists isn’t truly crucial, since it only matters if you’re at the highest level of proficiency anyway.

Historical note: this theory is often attributed to Abraham Maslow, who also developed the hierarchy of needs. However, it’s not clear whether the theory actually originated with him, and there are disputes regarding who came up with it first. It’s entirely possible that this is because several people came up with similar conceptualizations of the model independently from one another. In any case, this doesn’t matter too much, as it doesn’t have any effect on how the theory is applied today.


Applying this in your learning

This framework is not intended as an absolute, 100% accurate psychological model. Instead,  it’s meant to give you a rough idea of the stages of competence that you will go through as you learn new skills. Use it to recognize where you are in the learning process, and how you’re advancing.

Keep in mind that you are likely going to fluctuate between the different levels, or have certain subsets of the skill at one level, while other subsets will be at different level. For example, if you’re learning a new language, it’s possible that your reading will be at a higher level than your writing, or that you’ll be better at understanding what other people say than at speaking yourself.

The main takeaway is this: feeling that you have no idea what you’re doing in the beginning is perfectly fine. When you eventually start realizing that you’re making tons of mistakes, that’s not a bad thing either. Instead, these are both predictable and necessary stages of learning, that you go through as you slowly improve.


Summary and conclusions

  • When learning a new skill, you advance through several stages of competence.
  • You will start at unconscious incompetence, advance to conscious incompetence, followed by conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence.
  • Your abilities might fluctuate a bit as you learn, and it’s natural for different subskills to be at different levels.
  • If you’re feeling helpless when you start learning a new skills, don’t worry; it’s a natural part of the learning process.


Fall Asleep Faster and Sleep Better by Reducing Blue-Light Exposure Before Bedtime

Picture of a laptop, laying on a bed in a dark room, and emitting tons of blue light.


In today’s world, late-night exposure to bright lights is one of the most common issues affecting sleep quality; this is often attributed to the widespread use of light-emitting screens. Basically, when you check your phone, tablet, or laptop while lying bed, you’re making it more difficult for yourself to fall asleep, while also reducing your sleep quality.


Why blue light is the main problem

Your devices emit light from all across the visible spectrum, which is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. The image below shows the wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum, as well as the wavelengths of ultra-violet light, which falls directly below the spectrum, and infra-red light, which falls directly above it.


The spectrum of visible light (colors and their wavelengths).


Light around the 450-470 nm range (i.e. blue light), has been found to be a strong signal for melatonin suppression. Essentially, blue light gives your body circadian input, which tells it that it’s not yet time to go to sleep. Overall, light at a shorter wavelength tends to lead to a greater suppression of melatonin production, which is why blue light, which has a relatively short wavelength, is so disruptive. Conversely, red light, which has the longest wavelength (of visible light), is the least disruptive to your ability to sleep.


Reducing blue-light exposure from screens

Reducing the amount of blue light that screens emit is generally easy, and doesn’t require much effort on your part. You can usually do it by either tweaking the settings on your device (if there is a built-in function), or by using an app. Search online for instructions to find out how to do this, or to find a relevant app if this setting isn’t available.

An added bonus of doing this is that you will experience less eye strain if you tend to look at screens in a dark environment. That is, using your laptop with the lights off will be much more comfortable now, and you won’t have to feel like someone is aiming a projector in your eyes you when you look at your phone late at night.


Other sources of blue light

In addition to screens, blue light is emitted by other appliances, most notably fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights. Unfortunately, the light coming from these sources can’t be easily filtered via an app. There are, however, some methods for reducing blue light exposure from them:

  • Replace these lights where possible.
  • Cover them with something that dims them, or only allows reddish light through (e.g. red cellophane).
  • Avoid exposure to such lights as much as possible before bedtime.

The last two points are applicable in general, even if the light source isn’t blue (e.g. incandescent light bulbs). Remember: the closer you are to going to sleep, the less light you want to be exposed to.


Summary and Conclusions

  • Exposure to light before bedtime makes it more difficult to fall asleep, and reduces sleep quality.
  • Blue light, which is emitted by screens and fluorescence bulbs, has the worst impact on your sleep.
  • Avoiding such light can help you fall asleep more easily, and sleep better.
  • Apps which filter out blue light from screens can help you do that without much effort.
  • You can also replace or cover blue/bright lights where possible, and avoid them before going to bed.