You can put 10,000 hours in at the gym working your bi’s and tri’s, but if you want to become a super heavyweight champion arm wrestler like Michael Todd, you’re better off hitting the hand grip.
That’s because, like a Formula 1 driver’s car, if an arm wrestler wants to hoist the trophy, he’s got to take care of his hands.
Bathroom Minutes: What’s more important if you want to win: Hands or arms?
Michael Todd: The general consensus in arm wrestling is that if you can control the hands, you can control the match. Your back is the most used muscle during an arm wrestling match, but if your hands aren’t strong enough to support that strength, you’re screwed.
Bathroom Minutes: So the bigger your hands the better you’ll be at arm wrestling?
MT: Having bigger hands is definitely an advantage. Not only do larger hands give you more leverage, but they also allow you to wrap around the back of your opponent’s hand, giving you more control.
Bathroom Minutes: How do you keep your hands in tip top shape?
MT: I use a rope pulling machine for about 15 minutes every day when my hands are still swollen from my workout. I’ll grab the rope and do the standard arm wrestling motions with it: Crank the wrist down and roll the hand over. That way, you’ll know how to handle it if your hand swells up during a match.
Bathroom Minutes: Have you experience any wear and tear to your hands while arm wrestling?
MT: I pinched an ulnar nerve in my right hand back in 2007, so I don’t have any feeling in my pinky and ring fingers. They’ve basically been asleep for the past nine years. I’ve also had over 70 fractures in my right elbow. My X-ray looks horrible.
Bathroom Minutes: Ouch. Ever give your hands a break?
MT: I take ice baths and use a TENS unit during the few days before and after each match to keep my hand muscles relaxed.
Bathroom Minutes: Have you seen your hands transform since you started arm wrestling professionally?
MT: It’s funny that you ask that. I was actually just watching a video of me from when I was in high school, and my hands were so thin and tiny. Now I’ve got these big, meaty, callused hands from all the training I do. Every time I shake someone’s hand they say, “My god, your hands are massive.”
Bathroom Minutes: How’d you know arm wrestling was for you?
MT: I grew up arm wrestling my dad, and I took it to the picnic tables at school. I was pretty good by my senior year of high school, so I entered an arm wrestling competition at a nearby county fair and placed 3rd. I decided to try my hands at the state tournament, placed 1st, and went an entire year undefeated after that. I was all in from then on.