Meet Garrett Stepsis

Hi Garrett - how long have you been armwrestling? 

I have been arm wrestling on and off (far more off than on) for almost 14 years.  I am 30 years old, 6' and 265 pounds, have an MBA and work as an Account Executive for Telecom solutions provider, Network Plus (

 When did you get started?

My first arm wrestling competition was in Feb. of 1988 at the age of 16. I saw an ad at the local gym for the New England Armwrestling Championships.  I had always been very strong in the arms (cheat bar curling 185 at age 14) and desired to compete. I lost both my matches but kept with it. 

 What happened next?

In November of 1988 and at the age of 17, I entered the novice division of the Cape Cod Arm Wrestling Championships.  I won all seven matches taking the first place for the novice division and won the overall novice.  It was there that I met Connecticut State Director Al Virelli. Al Virelli taught me that arm wrestling was far more than simply being strong and that it was a coordination of a number of variables including speed,
strength, technique and getting a good, quick start. From March of 1989 to August of 1991 (when I moved from MA to DE), I trained with Al Virelli. After initially meeting Al Virelli, I won first or second place in a number of other competitions -- New
York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and so forth.  My pro debut was in November 1989 at the age of 18 where I won first place in the Northeastern United States Championship in the 200-221 weight class.

 What have you done since then?

Since then, I was a four time runner-up in the New England Championships in the SHW class, 1991, 1995, 1996 and 1997, placing second only to Bob Caron, Jerry Cadorette, Reggie Ward and Jason Vale respectively. In July of 1999, I met New Jersey State Director Mike Mignogna who I train with today.  Mike has been indispensable so far as improving my speed, technique and table coordination.  From this point on, any significant strides I make in armwrestling will be attributable in no small part to being able to train with Mike and his team.

 Any injuries?

In October of 1999, I tore my left pec after a 16-week cycle of Creatine.  I have since not trained chest heavy but have done some very heavy arm work including one-armed preacher curls with a 240-pound dumbbell and closing the number #3 gripper.

What about your personal feats of strength?

 Although there's not a terribly strong correlation between what one lifts in the gym and how he performs on the table, I thought some might be interested in hearing a few past feats of strength:

Closed grip bench press: 225 x 154, 315 x 65 and 405 x

* Hammer Strength bench press: 745 x 1, 495 x 30

* One-armed row:  275 x 30, 385 x 2.

* Standing behind the neck press: 405 x 5.

* Side lateral raise:  120 x 4

* Standing one armed dumbbell curl: 145 x 9

* E-Z bar curl: 255 x 16

* Dumbbell wrist curl: 210 x 10, 120 x 100.

* Fly Machine: 100 reps with full stack of 200

* One-armed dumbbell preacher curl (half reps): 240 x 6

* One armed dumbbell preacher curl (partials): 210 x 80

* Hammer Strength shoulder press negatives: six 100 pound plates plus 260-pound spotter pulling down with all his weight.

* Pull-up negatives: (broke dipping belt and got kicked out of the university weight room after attempting 400 pounds).

Since my injury, I no longer train in that sort of way and specialize in mostly hand, wrist, and arm training now -- often a mix including lighter weight and improved form and a wider variety of exercises.

Some of your toughest matches?

  Dana Gaines at the 1992 Nationals (lost).  Duke Sarkasian at the 1996 New Englands
(won).  Travis Bagent and Frank Travisano at the 2001 Strong Arm Challenge (won).  Marcio Barboza at the 2001 Mid Atlantic Championships (lost).  Jason Vale at
the 1997 New Englands (lost in straps).

What would you consider your career highlights?

 Winning first place this past August 24th in the Maryland Strong Arm Challenge over nationally ranked pullers Travis Bagent, Dave Marraco,
Kevin Sneider and Frank Travisano.

And your career goal?

 To be the SWH National and World Champion in the not-too-distant future.

Tell us about your armwrestling workouts?

I train with Team New Jersey a few times a month.  We do thick bar dumbbell wrist curls with heavy weight (110 to 240 pounds), the plate gripper, hammer raises, thick-bar cable curls on arm wrestling table and –most importantly- arm wrestling.

When we do not meet, on my own I do heavy one-armed dumbbell preacher curls and work out with the #1, #2 and #3 grippers.  As of lately, I've been doing very heavy negatives in the one-armed cable curl – holding back a 220-pounder standing on a 150-pound stack for one-arm negatives.  However, I do not do that that often as it obviously increases the chance of future injuries.

What do you recommend to new armwrestlers?

* Find someone in your area who knows about arm wrestling and would have the patience and willingness to train new arm wrestlers.  Train with that person and his group of pullers regularly.

* Be patient.  Accept the fact that will not win every match.  Like anything else, it takes time to get good at it.

* Always warm up adequately.

* Stay away from Creatine as I am convinced that Creatine causes muscle tears.

*  Understand that to become a great arm wrestler, the most important thing is getting "table time."  While I may have built up a lot of power in the weight room, in retrospect, much of that time would have been much better spent on an arm wrestling table.

Thanks Garrett for the great information.



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