Getting Started in Armlifting

So you want to get started with Armlifting?

Armlifting is a great sport that can be done anywhere, so it’s perfect for home gym athletes!  It all starts with a loading pin, a carabiner and some attachments.  For a more detailed look at armlifting including the history of the sport check out this article on Armlifting USA. If you’re ready to get started, here are five tips to help you get ready for training and possibly a competition.

Get some implements

Loading Pin

There are several companies that make loading pins: Ironmind, Country Crush, Arm Assassin Strength Shop, FBBC, Sorinex, Barrel Strength Systems, David Horne’s World of Grip, and Rogue.  All you have to do is pick where you want to order one from and they’ll do the rest.  Standard height is a 15 inch loading pin so I recommend you get one of those because that is what you will use in an Armlifting USA contest.  Then you need to get a carabiner; it’s very important to buy a quality carabiner so that you do not get hurt when lifting the weight on the loading pin.  Ironmind sells a very nice carabiner. You can also go into your hardware store and buy one there as well.


Now that you have your loading pin (most of them are for 2-inch Olympic weights, although IronMind does sell one for old school standard plates), you need some attachments.

Julia Williams Gets an Armlifting World Record with a 2inch Country Crush Lift of 174.8lbs

Product Type of Grip Strength Where to Get It
Country Crush Thick bar grip strength
Rolling Thunder Thick bar grip strength IronMind
Adjustable Thick Bar Thick Bar Grip Strength David Horne
Blockbuster Pinch Block Pinch Grip IronMind
Flask Pinch Grip Barrel Strength Systems
Hub Pinch Grip IronMind
Bull Ring Pinch Grip Jedd Johnson
Finnish Ball
Dube Cube
Coin Attachment
Apollon’s Axle (50mm/2 inch) Axle Deadlift IronMind
Rogue Axle Axle Deadlift Rogue
60mm/2 ⅜ inch

All of these devices clip to the loading pin with a carabiner.  It’s simple and very convenient to change weights.  You simply unclip the carabiner and pile on more weights.

One note about the Axle. Like anything else in armlifting, it is possible to make an axle on your own or buy one. Whether you make or buy it, it will also be useful if you decide to also compete in the sport of strongman down the line.  Another alternative would be to purchase a pair of Fat Gripz; you could use them at a home or any commercial gym.  The blue Fat Gripz are 60 mm on a typical bar.

Get AdviceClay Edgin Armlifting an American Record 309lbs with David Horne's Adjustable Thick Bar

Another tip would be about the lifting itself: you might want to go online and look at some people who are doing the lifting and possibly even ask other people for coaching or for technique advice.  For example, as we mentioned in our article on Armlifting USA, The Axle Deadlift is a frequently contested event and since many of you are used to doing the deadlift, it’s an easy transition to doing deadlift on a thick bar. The key for this deadlift is that it’s in the double overhand grip style: in other words, both of your hands are facing the same way with the palms facing you.  As a result, this makes the lift much more difficult because the bar wants to rotate and you cannot have a mixed grip to counteract that.  The weights used in this event are much, much less than a typical deadlift and it seems silly that the weights would be that much less until you try it.  For example, my best deadlift in a powerlifting meet is 672 lb and my best deadlift on a double overhand axle is 385 lb.

As you can see, some of these lifts are one-hand lifts and some of them require two hands.  I highly recommend that even in the one hand lifts you train your weak hand at some level otherwise you will develop a large discrepancy between your strong hand and your weak hand.

Be Patient

You do not want to injure your hands as hand injuries can take a very long time to heal. One good source of information is the Armlifting USA website.  Another good source of information is the   They have informational podcasts that may spark some interest or give you tips on how to lift certain implements.

Get Some Goals

Goals can be really helpful in making progress because once you have a mark to shoot for, you are more motivated to get after it.  One way to set a goal is to pick a contest that interests you either because it’s nearby, or because it gives you an opportunity to travel. Then obviously, you need to practice for those events!

About the author

I am a hardcore garage gym athlete. I love training at home. I compete in Armlifting and am the Secretary General of Armlifting USA.