Wrestling is a dynamic sport, which is unique because it is a form of combat. When analyzing the best way to design a specific workout for a combat sport, it must be realized that the athletes are constantly trying to manipulate and stabilize their own body mass as well as their opponents.
Wrestling workouts should be designed to enhance the wrestler’s ability to develop pure bodyweight strength and power. In order to train these athletes in a sport specific manner, their workouts should include dynamic movements using the bodyweight of another person. This article will look at the best ways to accomplish this and design a wrestling specific workout.
The top priority in creating a great wrestling program is to allow the athlete to be able to move his own bodyweight through space. This can be accomplished through pull-ups, towel pull-ups, inverse rows with regular and altered grips, variations of the pushup, bodyweight squats and lunges and core stabilization exercises such as the abdominal wheel, planks and physio ball rollouts.
The second major component to an all around wrestling program includes the wrestler performing dynamic exercises with the use of a partner’s bodyweight. These exercises are specific to a wrestling match because wrestlers are constantly trying to manipulate the bodyweight of their opponent during a match. By training with a person of equal size and moving their body through space, the wrestler will be more ready to handle the shifting and dynamic bodyweight of their opponents. Some great exercises for this phase of training include squats and lunges with a partner on your shoulders, layered pushups where the top partner is leaning on the bottom partner perpendicularly, creating a letter “T”. The bottom partner performs pushups while supporting the weight of the top partner and then after the reps are complete, the bottom partner stabilizes and the top partner performs their reps on the raised body of his partner. Another great bodyweight exercise involves walking with a partner on your back, performing a monkey routine where one partner is standing with arms out to form a “T”. The partner will start on your back, almost like the beginning of a piggy back ride and climb his way around their partner until they are back to the starting position. The number of partner-bodyweight exercises is only limited by the imagination; however it is an important factor to consider.
Lastly, the metabolic demands that are placed on the body during the course of a wrestling match must be taken into consideration. A typical period of wrestling lasts for two minutes. A period of wrestling will tax the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. It should be the goal of the trainer or coach to have the body adapt to a point where it can buffer lactic acid and H+ ions so they do not interfere with muscle contractions or performance. I like to have my wrestlers perform roughly two straight minutes of work before resting. The rest between sets can start at around five minutes and eventually you want to work this down to about a minute while performing multiple sets. It should also be a goal to enable the wrestler to perform more than three sets or periods of this type of metabolic conditioning in a workout. It is ideal that the actual wrestling match feel easy compared to the training program.
Again, the imagination is the limit for the coach or strength and conditioning specialist when designing a wrestling program. Other activities such as tire flips, using a sledgehammer, the farmer’s walk and 400 yard shuttles can and should be added into the mix. The shuttle is great for anaerobic conditioning and these other exercises call for handling uneven weight. Most importantly, these can add a level of fun and excitement that is sometimes hard to capture in the weight room. All the other traditional exercises can also be used in the program. Here is what a sample workout might look like:
TOTAL TIME: 2 minutes is the goal. Rest 4 minutes, then repeat 2 more times.
- 6 PULLUPS
- 10 UNEVEN PUSHUPS
- 10 PARTNER SQUATS
- 8 TIRE FLIPS
- 15 BARBELL SHRUGS
- 6 ALTERED GRIP
Hopefully this is helpful in designing a complete wrestling program. Just make sure the wrestlers don’t begin their program right before the season starts.