If you are a free style, collegiate or club wrestler, you will benefit from this wrestling-conditioning program designed by a top wrestler and strength and conditioning coach.
Wrestling is broken down into 3-minute periods that include both short bursts of maximal intensity that requires a very high level of strength and power along with a need for anaerobic capacity. Because there are very short periods of rest between each period, a good wrestling conditioning program will also include the development of aerobic endurance. What this means to the strength and conditioning coach is what is called concurrent development of strength and aerobic endurance. This raises an issue of incompatibility of training modes. The answer to this problem is careful planning by a qualified strength and conditioning specialist.
When designing a wrestling-conditioning program, you must consider the primary muscles used, the muscle actions and the energy system. Of course, you can alter the variables such as exercise selection and order, volume, intensity and length of the rest intervals.
Wrestlers should be careful not to gain weight. One of the simplest methods of not gaining weight is to improve maximal force and power by performing body weight exercises. Push up, pull-ups, dips, and partner exercises along with the balance ball are suggested.
Some of the Olympic style weight lifts actually mimic wrestling moves. They allow for recruitment patterns and muscle actions to maximize the transfer of power. The overhead squat and drop squat are good. Single leg exercises will improve the ability to maintain and regain balance. The dead lift and bent over row, which mimics the lifts and throws from the parterre position should also be performed. Wrist curls help develop the forearm which is used to grab the opponent. They should be performed in an isometric position; similar to what occurs when the wrestlers are locked up.
Injury prevention should be a consideration when designing a complete wrestling program. The primary body parts that can get injured easily are the shoulders, neck and elbows. Also the knees are likely to get injured during a match if not strengthened properly. Some of the exercises to strengthen these areas are shoulder shrugs, shoulder press, triceps extension and single legwork targeting the quads and hamstring. In addition, wrestlers need extended range of motion along with muscular strength. Therefore, flexibility is very important.
As in many sports, core strength is critical. We consider core for wrestlers to be the abdominals, gluteal muscles and the lower back. The kinetic chain is a component that allows transferring forces from the lower extremities to the upper body. Wrestlers must be aware of the ability to exert and withstand rotational forces is the key to success on the mat. Movement using unilateral resistance, cable exercises and abdominal twists such as the Russian twist are excellent exercises for this need. Spindel Sports Academy uses the stability ball combined with the bungee cords to fit these requirements. Some traditional exercises to perform that will improve your overall wrestling performance are the back and front squat, lunge, side lunge, 1 leg squat, bent over row, pull ups, dips, upright row, bench press, incline bench press and wrist curls and wrist extensions.
A few of the core stability exercises for wrestlers are unilateral shoulder press, unilateral bent over row, back extensions, medicine ball lateral bend, giant circles, lateral throw, diagonal throw, backward throw from a squat and underhand throw.
Unlike other sports such as boxing or martial arts, wresting relies heavily on the adenosine triphosphate phosphocreatine and lactic acid energy systems (ATP). What this means is the wrestling conditioning program should address the specific metabolic demands. Blood lactate acid concentrations can reach high levels with reduced levels pH levels during a match. So, the ability for the wrestler to handle metabolic acidosis is key. Normally, the wrestling-conditioning program would focus primarily on anaerobic conditioning; resistance training should also be implemented which will achieve an optimal metabolic state. The ability to maintain force and power output while in the anaerobic state is achievable by manipulating the order of exercises. As an example, by performing weight lifts at the end of the workout, the wrestlers body is challenged to exert higher levels of power when he/she is already burned out. Also, by performing plyometrics after the resistance workout, usually 30-60 seconds, this helps to develop power endurance. Circuit training is one of the suggested modalities for this type of wrestling conditioning. What circuit training does is increase capillarization, thereby increasing the potential to clear metabolic by-products, which can allow the muscles to better deal with metabolic acidosis during the workout. Combination lifts fit the bill very well. Some examples of combination lifts are power clean, push press and front squat. Another group of combination lifts are bent over row, upright row, overhead squat and good mornings.
As we mentioned before, isometrics should be part of the wresting conditioning program because at times, the wrestler may be locked up for several seconds planning the next move. Pulling and pushing moves during competition are considered static actions. You can perform isometrics with or without a partner using a rope or towel. You can also perform isometrics using a stability ball, which further enhances the core at the same time.
The most important thing to remember when training for wrestling conditioning is periodization, or planning out your off season-pre season and in season workouts. Here is a general periodization model for wrestlers. In the off-season, perform aerobic conditioning activities with low intensity and long durations known as LSD. In the off season, but getting closer to pre season, maintain the LSD and add some interval training with a 1:1 work/rest ratio. Begin some resistance training for injury prevention along with core stability. Once you hit the pre season officially, change to anaerobic conditioning activities and interval training along with maximal strength training. When in season, work on power and power endurance, muscular endurance that are combination lifts, circuit training and body weight exercises. Lastly, don’t forget to maintain anaerobic capacity and interval training.
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