It’s no surprise that if you want to build a dominant wrestling program you need a feeder system. You need a youth program and clubs that start them early and prep them for Middle School, then High School.
The same holds true for wrestling strength and conditioning. It’s important to not only start them early, but also give them what they need at the right time.
Let me explain…
Just as your youth wrestlers aren’t ready for advanced wrestling moves and technique, they aren’t ready for advanced strength and conditioning. That’s not to say that every once in a while you have a kid who is advanced at their young age and could probably handle the workloads of the older guys. But that’s rare… and still doesn’t necessitate training them as older wrestlers.
So, here’s what I’ve always believed…
Youth wrestlers in elementary school or high school should train in a wrestling-specific manner with attention to form on basic strength exercises. As they get stronger and stronger you then move them up to a more intense training program… but still age-specific.
Here is a sample youth workout from my Wrestling Strength X – Training Camp Program
Sample Youth Wrestling Workout (Elementary School and Middle School)
- Pullups or Chinups – 3 x max reps
2A. Jump Squats – 4 x 15
2B. Wall Sits – 4 x 60 seconds
(The Jump Squats and Wall Sits are done back to back with no rest in between. Rest only as long as necessary between sets.)
3. Pushups x 85 total reps. (Strive to finish the 85 reps in as few sets as possible)
4. Inverted Rows – 3 x max reps
5. Jump Rope. (warm up for 2 minutes, then 10 rounds of 40 seconds fast followed by 20 seconds slow)
High School wrestling strength training is fun:). As a Sports Performance Specialist, I’ve spent a lot of time working with High School wrestlers over the years. Training a High School wrestler is completely different than training youth wrestlers. Here are some tips for training your High School grapplers:
- Training can be separated into multiple types of workouts. For example, in the Wrestling Strength X Training Camp Program it’s split 4 ways: Upper Body, Lower Body, Total Body and Mixed Bag (Mixed Bag is an anything goes type of workout)
- Although High School wrestlers can benefit from superseding (performing 2 exercises back to back with no rest in between) they need to build a base of strength and muscle with straight sets. This means do a. heavy set, rest, then repeat. We want to maximize muscle and strength development in the early stages.
- High School wrestlers need to learn to listen to their body. If you’re doing a lot of wrestling in the offseason, train 2 times per week. If you wrestling in lower volumes, training 3 times per week is optimal for strength development.
- Never perform workouts on consecutive days. Even if you are motivated, the key is to stimulate, not annihilate.
Here’s a sample High School Total Body workout from the Wrestling Strength X – Training Camp Program.
High School Total Body
- Turkish Getups 4 x 5-6 reps (2 sets on each side of body)
- DB Hang Clean 4 x 6-8 reps
- Inverted Rows 3 x max reps
- Cheek to Ground Pushups 3 x max reps
- Front Squat 4 x 6-8 reps
- Wall Walks 3 x max time
College wrestlers are not only advanced in their wrestling technique, but generally more advanced in their strength and conditioning training. College wrestlers can still benefit from High School level wrestling workouts if desired. There are a number of ways that I like to program workouts for the college age wrestlers.
- More challenging exercise progressions. In other words, more difficult versions of traditional exercises. One example is having them perform Zercher Squats with a barbell or sandbag. A Zercher Squat is when the weight is held in the bend of your arms out in front of you while squatting.
- A mix of straight sets and supersets. This variety in training tempo is another way of increasing intensity and improving overall conditioning.
- Full Body workouts. At the college level every workout is a full body workout. This keeps the overall volume and intensity higher.
- More unilateral training. This means that the college wrestler will use more exercises that train one side of the body at a time.
Here’s a sample college workout from my Wrestling Strength X – Training Camp Program:
1A) Barbell Zercher Squats 4 x 5-6 reps
1B) Jump Rope x 250 reps
2A) 1 Arm Kettlebell Snatch 3 x 6-8 each side
2B). 1 Arm Kettlebell Row 3 x 6-8 each side
3) Sled Pull 4 x 150’
4) Weighted Pushups 5 x 6-10 reps