Q&A with Professional Canadian Armwrestler: Justin Hancock (2016)
Here at Fitworld Exposed we talk a lot about how the key to getting bigger arms all lies in the forearms and arm-wrestlers exemplify this because a lot of them don’t have the biggest biceps/triceps yet their arms still look massive. On the other hand you have a lot of people who train at commercial gyms who are blasting their biceps and triceps like no tomorrow but yet their arms still look small as a whole and thats because they haven’t developed the outer extremities of their arms.
I always say that whenever you want to get good at anything you always want to take advice from the best and arm-wrestlers have some of the biggest and strongest forearms and hands on the planet because their sport revolves around that (along with technique and a bunch of other factors).
Not only could we learn about getting bigger forearms from arm-wrestlers, but we could also learn tips on arm-wrestling techniques and other interesting stuff relating to the sport because lets face it, arm wrestling is one of the most alpha sports out there. I personally feel like its an underrated sport for the most part and doesn’t get all of the love that it deserves and that’s why its part of my duty to spread the word on these amazing athletes because they deserve the attention!
For the readers who don’t already know, how long did your arm-wrestling career last and when did you start making a career out of it?
I’ve been arm wrestling for about 4 years now but for the first 3 years I only trained once every 4- 6 weeks on the table. It’s only been the last year that I’ve been much more focused on arm wrestling.
Do you look up to anybody in the arm wrestling community or do you just motivate yourself?
Locally, guys from my club: Dave Hicks, Marlon Hicks, Anthony Dall’Antonia, and Dante Dall’Antonia. Elsewhere in Canada: Devon Larratt. In the USA: John Brzenk.
What is your biggest goal for this year?
To properly figure out my hit, so that I’m not catching anymore.
A lot of bodybuilders will have programs that look something like:
Monday: Chest + Triceps
Thursday: Back + Biceps + Forearms
Friday: Shoulders + Traps
This is a common example of what is known as a bodybuilding split routine.
What does your weekly training routine look like for arm wrestling on average?
My routine changes slightly from week to week, but typically it goes like this:
Every other Sunday – Arm wrestling on the table
Day 1 – Chest and wrist/forearms
Day 2: Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders, and wrists/forearms
Day 3: Back and wrist/forearms
Day 4: Legs and grip, wrist/forearms
How long do your sessions usually last on average and how long does it take for you to get warmed up?
Usually I will workout for 1-2 hours and my warm-ups are done with lighter weights on my first sets.
Do you ever incorporate 3 inch+ handle work in your training? In other words how fat are the handles that you train with?
Lately I’ve been using a 4 inch handle that I attach weights to for wrist curls. Most of my exercises are done with regular handles.
Do you find that Captain Crush Grippers help your performance in arm wrestling and do you find that they are good for forearm hypertrophy?
I have the #1,#2,#2.5 and #3. I can rep the #2.5 on a good day, but I haven’t closed my #3 yet. I incorporate them into my routine along with other finger exercises. I think they help a bit to make the fingers stronger. Using them will help with forearm hypertrophy as well.
Do you ever incorporate any Farmers walks into your training?
No not yet, but its something that I’d like to start doing eventually. Its a great exercise for general physical preparedness and will improve your support grip.
Do you incorporate any sledgehammer levering work into your programming and if so then how heavy is your hammer that you use?
I have used a sledgehammer in my training but lately I’ve been doing different exercises instead. I have an 8 pound sledge hammer that I taped an extra 10 pounds to (18 pounds or 8kg total).
What is the most weight that have ever strict curled and what rep range do you usually work in?
I haven’t tested my strict curl for a while, but I’ve done an 80lb full strict 1 arm curl. I’ve also done partial reps with an 100lb dumbell and static (or fulcrum) curls with 115 pounds for reps.
A lot of arm wrestlers talk a lot about the importance of doing hammer curls along with pinwheel curls and how they take these exercises very seriously, would you mind elaborating on why exactly?
Its something that I haven’t focused on enough but plan on changing. Arm wrestlers like this exercise is focuses on the brachioradialis. This is one of the prime muscles in the arm that helps with rotation and back pressure.
I’ve never played any serious arm-wrestling matches against anybody in my life, what are a couple of basic and critical tips that you could give me to start off if ever anybody challenges me?
Always look at your hand, the reason guys break their arm is because they push their shoulder forward while letting their hand rotate the opposite way. Keep your knuckles pointed up and your arm as close to your body as close as the judges will allow. Since most people don’t know how to armwrestle, if you pull them towards you and behind their wrist back before pinning them then you’ll take away most of their power.
How do you use leg drive and core strength during an arm wrestling match? Also what is your take on foot placement and lower body stance as far as getting a mechanical advantage is concerned?
If you get into a hook match then wrapping your leg around the table will help you with leverage. Some guys also like to push off against the opposite side of the table when top-rolling.
Typically you want to put your right leg forward if you’re arm wrestling right-hand and left leg forward for left hand. Get your body right against the table too.
Are there any “cheats” or “hacks” per say that aren’t really cheats, but they give you a huge advantage in winning an arm wrestling match? (ex: squeezing a particular one of your opponents fingers..etc)
One huge advantage is hitting before the other guy. Guys will time the “GO” to the start before their opponent.
A few things that are against the rules but guys try to get away with are:
Having a bit of a bend in their wrist when covering their opponents thumb. When they hit they’ll also pop their elbow off the pad a bit to gain leverage. A good ref will catch most of these, but even at the highest level guys get away with it sometimes. How do you use the strength of your shoulders and lats to aid you in an arm wrestling match? Also how important are these muscles for arm wrestling and do you experience soreness in these areas the day after a serious match?
The shoulders can be helpful for pressing and the lats help with back pressure. I’ll notice a bit of muscle soreness in my lats and my bicep tendon will be sore where it connects to the shoulder.
What are some breathing and bracing techniques that you could give novice arm wrestlers?
Breathing out of yelling when you do your hit can help release your aggression and energy (similar to what fighters do when they strike). If you get into a longer match, always breathe but maintain your position while you do. I’ve seen guys turn red and even pass out on the table, don’t do this.
What are some of the ways that you can tell that someone has good genetics for the sport of arm wrestling? (ex: thick wrists…etc)
Guys that have the following: long forearms, thick wrists, long+thick fingers. You can still get good without these things but you’ll find a lot of the guys that are at the top of their class will have these things relative to their weight.
How often do you practice arm wrestling matches per week and do you contribute some of your forearm size to arm wrestling? Also tell me where can I find affordable arm-wrestling competition tables online?
Currently I practice arm wrestling once every two weeks and I’d say that it has contributed to my forearm size. Armwrestling table dimensions could be found online if you can or know someone who can build it. Most good table will cost you $500 or more USD. I haven’t bought one online so I can’t say who has the best deal.
One of my biggest goals is to have 16 inch upper arms with 16 inch forearms. I currently have 15.5 inch upper arms and about 14.25 inch forearms and I know that getting to 16 inches will take long, but what do you recommend? (ex: weight gain, special exercises…etc)
If you don’t genetically have proportionality large forearms then gaining size everywhere will help. Doing heavy rows, deadlifts, shrugs, and farmers walks all without straps will help. Finally, adding grippers, wrist curls and rotational exercises will also help contribute to forearm growth.
What is the funniest moment that you have had during arm-wrestling up to date?
I tore my jeans during an arm wrestling practice once. Wear something stretchy or loose when you pull!