Hail to the Dinosaurs!
We just finished the end of the high
school and collegiate wrestling season,
and now I'm getting lots of letters and
emails asking about off-season training
programs for wrestlers.
So as a former wrestler, and long time
lifter, let me address the issue.
First and foremost, to be a good wrestler
you need to wrestle. The more mat time,
the better. So wrestling needs to be
part of your regular routine all year
Second, a wrestler's best hold is being
in great condition. To be a champion,
you need to be able to wrestle several
matches in one day -- all at full speed,
against top competition. And sooner or
later (or maybe often), you'll need to
win the match with an explosive move in
the very final seconds of action. That
takes great conditioning. So make
conditioning work a big part of your
Nothing beats running. Roadwork and
sprints, including hill sprints, are
great. Bodyweight work is also great
for both strength and conditioning.
See Dinosaur Bodyweight Training for
Your strength training should be based
on Olympic lifting and related exercises,
supplemented by some bodyweight work. Do
NOT do "bodybuilding." Muscle pumping is
silly for a wrestler, because the last
thing you want to do is "pump up" during
a hard match. And you don't want to do
isolation exercises. You want to train
like an athlete -- meaning, you want to
do total body exercises that teach you
to move with power, precision and
You'll want to train your neck and traps
extra hard. That means head-strap work
for the neck, along with the bridging
you do as part of your mat drills.
And you'll want to work your grip very,
very hard. A strong grip is one of your
best weapons on the mat.
As a brief aside, stay away from the
machines. They are useless for wrestlers.
I once saw a book that advocated a
wrestling workout where you did nothing
but machine training, and I wanted to
strangle the author. Any athlete who
followed the program would have been
doomed to second or third rate progress,
and that's not good if you're trying to
get into the best shape of your life to
make a serious run at a state or NCAA
But getting back to the exercises --
one of the best things you can do as
a wrestler is to get some one on one
coaching from someone who coaches Olympic
weightlifting. If you live in the USA, go
to the USA Weightlifting website and find
the drop-down that lists the LWC's -- local
weightlifting clubs -- and find a club close
to you and go over and get some coaching.
Olympic lifting is the best thing in the
world for wrestlers, but you need to do it
right. And since you don't have time to
make training mistakes -- not if your goal
is to win a championship before you
finish high school (or college), you
need to get some coaching in the lifts
from someone who really knows them --
and that means a USAW-certified coach.
And on a slightly related note -- wear OL
shoes when you lift. You need the shoes to
support your feet, and you need them to
perform the lifts with proper technique.
Wrestling shoes won't work, and neither
will going barefoot -- and neither will
those Chuck Taylors you own and love.
I'll give a sample wrestling workout
tomorrow, but I wanted to cover some
basic points -- and that's what we
As always, thanks for reading and have
a great day. If you train today, make
it a good one.
Yours in strength,
P.S. For some great ideas on grip training,
grab a copy of Dinosaur Training:
P.S. 2. My other books and courses are
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Wrestling and
weightlifting go hand in hand." -- Brooks