The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Jan. 3, 2023

The World's Greatest Arm Wrestler - "Monster" Michael Todd

The World's Greatest Arm Wrestler - "Monster" Michael Todd

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"Monster" Michael Todd (@monstermichaeltodd) is a professional arm wrestler who has won 21 World titles and 36 National titles. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios at Wynn Las Vegas to talk about how he got started as a professional arm wrestler, the best techniques to win any arm wrestling match, the injuries he has suffered, what his training looks like, why his mindset is so important to him and much more!


Check out "Monster" Michael Todd's website here:


On becoming a professional arm wrestler:

“Okay, so I grew up in Arkansas, so I'm just a country boy, redneck from Arkansas who used to arm wrestle. Now, I wasn't really into team sports, and then my father he had like, college scholarship to go play football and all that and he got injured his senior year, and he always wanted me to be, you know. I played backyard football, you know, like just out in the yard slamming people in the ground, and enjoyed that. But regular, you know, sports in school, I just didn't really do it. I got into martial arts when I saw Karate Kid when I was a kid and I was like, I can take karate. And I got a black belt when I was 14, also in Taekwondo and in boxing and I was pretty proficient. But I always was a redneck who liked arm wrestling. And I used to, always arm wrestling my dad, like, he'd be sitting in a recliner, and I'd be a little kid and I put my arm up in the armrest and I tried to beat him, never could. When I was 15 years old, I finally beat my dad. And so I could beat everybody at school. And my senior year in high school was at Vo Tech. So I was taking auto mechanics, which I didn't really do very well at. But I did a lot of arm wrestling at auto mechanics. I was at the cafeteria table in there like they go that guy there is second the state, like well, let’s arm wrestle. So I beat the guy. He's like you should go to this tournament, and that was the Saline County Fair 1990 and I end up third place. That's how it got started for me right. And that was it. I took third place I was hooked. I came back home I built an arm wrestling table or wrist wrestling table and that's where you lock hands in the middle and you pin your opponent to your forearm. It's not as much technique involved, more upper body strength, but I didn't really build at the right height. I built it for my height so I've been like three inches too tall. And then fast forward and 36 national titles, 23 world titles, and I travel all over the world.”

On what makes Michael Todd great:

“My disgust for losing. I've always told people my disgust for losing. Well your desire to win every time, the thrill of victory, like my wife, she let’s me celebrate a victory for about a week. Walk around the house chest all out, she's like, Yeah, dude, it's just arm wrestling is not that big a deal your weeks up. But that loss eats away at me. And it's really hard too, I hate losing. I try as hard as I can not do. Now, as far as whether strength or technique at an amateur level, technique is very important. So if he had a twin brother and I taught you technique, he didn't know, you're gonna kill him. Once you become a world class arm wrestler, we all know the techniques and it comes down to who's stronger.”

On a winning mindset:

"Actually, I don't know. I've always just been extremely competitive. My family will tell you don't play cards with me. If you now start shooting the basketball, we got to start taking the score even if it's 21. I mean, I can't just do things for fun. We went bowling the other night, my wife's birthday party, there's about five people in the lane. I'm like, alright guys, I'm done, I gotta get my own lane. Because I can't sit around and wait, right? Like, I'm just I'm extremely competitive always been that way. And it's just, I want to fulfil my potential and every year in my life, whether it's being a better Christian, better husband, better athlete, you know, so every day, I just try to be better than I was yesterday."

Michael Todd improving with age:

“Well, that's the one thing about arm wrestling is it's tendon ligament strength. So, I mean, once you get real rigid, you actually become a better arm wrestler. They're stronger and your tendons and ligaments and like my arm, I've lost 19 and a half inches of range of motion of my right arm. The doctor X Rayed 12 years ago and said they found over 70 fractures.”

On Michael Todd’s workout:

“No, there are some people that do that, they just prioritize just training the right arm. I tried to train like an athlete, and then I just incorporate arm wrestling specific exercises inside my circuit. So I'll do like, so years ago, I used to, you know, multiple sets, like say I'm doing chest or lat pull downs, or whatever I do, you know, three sets or whatever, then I was like, that just takes too long. Because it wasn't fun anymore, it wasn't stress relief, it was a job. It's something I had to do. How can I get this job done as quick as possible? So I would just do one set of 30, and then I go to the next exercise, and so I just started doing sets at 30 of everything. And then I started increasing the weight significantly. So like my chest workout years ago would be 225 on the incline, 30 reps. And then I do 30 Pull Ups and 225 on the flat 30 reps, and I do 30 lat pull downs. And it was just I was repping 225 all the way through my workout, you know, 30 reps. Now I do that, but I incorporate wrist rolls. So I have a wrist rolls, that cable pull that mimics arm wrestling and I do battle ropes to blow up your hands.”

On leverage:

“So most people think armwrestling is a pushing sport, like you just try to push your opponent down. Armwrestling is really a pulling sport, it is more of a tug of war. I'm gonna try to pull you as close to me as possible. And then I try to lay over you know, once I get you real close to my body, I try to bend my body over until I pin you.”

On gaining size:

“I was a 19 year old kid at my first national championship. I started arm wrestling in 1990. I was 17 years old, and just a redneck from Arkansas. And then now just you know, kept getting bigger and [bigger]. I mean I can gain weight really easy. Like I have an endomorph body type so I can’t get fat. I'm like a big 300 pound country boy if I just ate what I want. But if I eat clean, I look fit, you know.”

So like what's a day in your normal diet?

“I mean, it's normally one to one protein and carbs about 300 protein, 300 carbs and about 100 grams of fat. Try to keep it clean. The leaner I get, the more freedom I have. So the more cheat meals I eat, it’s about 4,000 calories.

On weight limits in arm wrestling:

“Okay, so I've been the heavyweight and super heavyweight world champion in one league or another for like the last 10 to 15 years. And so I'm actually cutting down, they got a new weight class, it's kind of a change of the weight classes up. What used to be heavyweight is now a light heavyweight, 231 pounds or 105 kg. [Chris - that does not feel like a light heavyweight.] It doesn't but I'm going after that world title. [There] is a young man from Kazakhstan. He’s a bad dude. But yeah, so I gotta pull him on January 21 in Istanbul, Turkey for the world title.”

How much longer can Michael Todd do this:

“I don't think I've peaked yet. Honestly, I swear I tell my wife all the time. We have something really cool planned for this next year. So we did a tour last year. Last year, we jumped into a [RV], raised about $100,000. I got an RV, I wrapped it, and we did a five month tour. We travelled all 48 continental states 20,000 miles and I arm wrestled over 3000 matches, I would just pull out the armwrestling table and take on all comers. Right?”

What is Michael Todd grateful for:

“My amazing wife, my health and a positive support system.”

Featured image: The Sports Room