Top 10 Off-Mat Wrestling Workout Tips for Strength, Speed and Stamina
by Carmen Bott
Whether you are full swing into your wrestling off-season, or simply don't have a partner to train with on the mats day in and day out, it’s always good to have some off-mat alternatives that actually HELP you increase your strength, speed and stamina for your sport.
First, let's talk about what NOT to do as a wrestler.
Stay away from long, slow jogging sessions -- your sport is about power-endurance and jogging puts the same amount of force into the ground as walking! So, you might as well join your grandma during her workouts.
Avoid training one body part at time. Your body doesn't operate that way. "Leg day" is for physique beauties, not for people who like to Suplex their friends.
Wrestlers should focus on Strength, Speed and Stamina!
3 STRENGTH SOLUTIONS
- First, you need to learn to Olympic lift -- well that's not completely true. Learn the "power" versions of the clean and snatch.
- These lifts are literally the pinnacle of all things power for a wrestler. Wrestlers are unique. They don’t just jump or kick, they move other humans.
- This type of power requires load and the ability to push into the earth, keep the trunk stable and thrust the hips into extension.
- Think about how those raw motor skills transfer to your takedowns.
Second, train more pulling than pushing.
- You might wonder why a wrestler needs pulling strength. It's not exactly specific to the sport, is it? No, but shoulder injuries are a thing aren't they?
- So, to protect those shoulders, wrestlers should be doing 3x the volume of pull drills like rows and pull-ups versus bench press and push-ups.
- Think 9 sets of back, and 3 sets of chest.
Third, complete a full-body lift twice a week. Yes, twice!
- Wrestling itself is a strength sport, so why do extra lifting sessions? Rest is key to actually getting stronger.
- A well-designed strength plan, performed at a high intensity twice a week is as good as 3. So why not spend the third session working your craft.
2 SPEED SOLUTIONS
First and last, sprint!
Although wrestlers won't likely win the 40yard dash, there is a strong correlation between sprint times and top finishes, especially in the non-heavy-weight categories.
- Sprinting can be performed twice per week before a practice or a strength session. And as little as 10 sets of 10-20 yards per session is plenty.
- Here is a tip: For every 10 yards you sprint, rest 1minute. So, if you run a 20-yard sprint, rest 2 minutes between each one.
- For the heavyweights, instead of sprinting, swing HEAVY kettlebells for sets of 10 reps. Rest 2 minutes, repeat for 10 sets and you have speed as the result.
2 STAMINA SOLUTIONS
So, how should a wrestler build their endurance? Ideally through practicing their craft, but it's not a good idea to go hard every day, especially with sparring. This can quickly lead to overuse injuries and chronic fatigue.
Instead, it's important to use an "undulating" approach to endurance development. What does this look like?
- Well let's say you have two sparring sessions per week with an equally competitive and tenacious partner. Great! However, take 2 days between those sessions.
- The day after a hard sparring session, do a recovery movement circuit using bodyweight calisthenics such as push-ups, jumping jacks, battling ropes, surfer burpees, bodyweight lunges and other mobility drills that get blood flowing to all areas.
- It is considered recovery if you can chat during the circuit. If you are out of breath, the pace is too fast to be actual recovery.
- Try 30 minutes of continuous movements just taking short break for water. Try this once or twice per week for recovery.
- The day after that you will feel much better and ready for a killer Aerobic Power session.
- In this session you can either ride the bike or run for 3-minute intervals. Each interval, your goal is to get your heart rate up to 95% of its maximum. You must hold your pace for the full 3 minutes, then you can enjoy 3 minutes of recovery. Recovery can be spinning or walking but keep moving. Repeat this for 4 rounds.
- Your goal is to hit the heart rate zone for each round while keeping your pace. It is not at all comfortable but there is not better method to improve your stamina. Try this 2x/week.
- You can easily alternate these workouts between sparring sessions and do your sprints on your strength days.