I have arm wrestled people with less strength than me who win simply because they have thicker wrists, or larger hands. It has nary to do with having better technique either, because their wrist size alone seems to be a big advantage.

I want to know why, as explained by physics, why the torque they produce is so much larger, even with less muscular force by the axis than with me having greater strength, but smaller wrists & hands?

For example, I have 7-inch wrists, and 7.2-inch hands.

My opponent has 8-inch wrists, and 8.2-inch hands.

They have been tested to have less physical power in every muscle group used in arm wrestling compared to me, yet, they win, and they have no technical advantage over me in the sport either.

I have noticed that this advantage goes beyond arm wrestling, but to ANY angular/torque-like position of some grasping another's hand/wrist outwards in front of their bodies: enter image description here enter image description here

Please tell me why this is.

EXTRA: This question, or a question of this nature, has never been asked on this site, so please cut me some slack here! I know the question is poor at best, but some insight would be nice!

  • $\begingroup$ I can't see how the diameter of someone's wrist or the width of one's hand would have any mechanical impact on how much of an advantage they have at armwrestling, although I won't go so far as to say that there isn't something interesting behind this observation. You're saying that their measured strength is less than yours, but they still win? How is the strength measured? $\endgroup$ – DumpsterDoofus Nov 18 '13 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe a bigger hand implies a bigger torque relative to the wrist which decreases the force that your arm can generate. $\endgroup$ – user5402 Jan 18 '14 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ Could you supply more information on the muscle group tests? $\endgroup$ – user12029 Jan 19 '14 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ Their hands have more moment of inertia? $\endgroup$ – evil999man Apr 19 '14 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ Two words "Lever Ratio". See where the muscle is attached relative to the fulcrum. $\endgroup$ – ja72 Jul 22 '14 at 20:45

There are many variables that come into play in an armwrestling match, but one answer as to why a person with a larger hand and wrist has an advantage in armwrestling has less to do with strength, and more to do with leverage. In armwrestling, you and your opponent lock hands and attempt to pin each other to a pad on either side of the table. To pin your opponent, you must pull his arm/hand down. Doing so requires not only enough strength to move his arm, but also a secure grip of his hand and wrist. The simple fact that a thick hand and wrist are more difficult to maintain a secure grip on give a person with a thick hand an advantage, and the fact that a long hand can cover more of an opponent's hand gives the person with a longer hand an advantage. Imagine palming a basketball vs palming a shot put. Why is it more difficult to maintain control of a 22 ounce basketball with one hand than it is to maintain control of a 16 pound shot put? You can get a more secure grip on the shotput, that's why.


One way to argue about the so called observations is the sequence of logical implications:

Bigger hands$\rightarrow$Bigger bones$\rightarrow$Bigger muscles$\rightarrow$More strength

and therefore we can say to some extent say that the people with bigger hands may have an advantage.

  • $\begingroup$ The OP already pointed out that they have less strength based on other (I presume, non-torque related) tests $\endgroup$ – Michal Jan 18 '14 at 23:15

Overall arm length and positioning can make a huge difference. A shorter arm will be closer to being under the wrist, which changes the components of force applied.

It might also be more related to the actual muscle attachment points. A few small changes to the position of a muscle can create significant gains in the actual effect the muscle has.

Tying both together, some people also twist their bodies, repositioning these attachment points further still (probably for optimal leverage).

A larger hand may also not allow for the oppositions hand muscles to fully tighten, and this also prevents full recruitment of muscle fibers further down the arm.


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