Wrestlers in the Off-Season
As the wrestling season comes to a close for many, I thought I would put together a list of ten considerations for strength and conditioning programming for wrestlers in the off-season.
1. Fundamental exercises such as cleans, squats, deadlifts, presses, pull ups and rows should form the basis for any good strength development program regardless of the sport.
2. Don’t get carried away with turning all of your training into a conditioning stimulus. Long, complete rest periods of 2-3 minutes between heavy sets of lifting are necessary.
3. Wrestling is the most specific form of conditioning for wrestling. This is called specificity. Most good wrestlers are participating in off-season wrestling clubs, travelling to tournaments, etc. It is unlikely that a wrestler will get out of “wrestling shape”. Sprinkle appropriate amounts of conditioning into your strength and conditioning program but don’t over do it. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
4. Wrestling is a sport that requires athletes to perform in a fatigued state. This is where strength endurance circuits would be an appropriate training application.
5. Performance enhancement is second only to decreasing the likelihood of injury. According to Grindstaff et al, the most common injuries for wrestlers include ankle sprains, rotator cuff strains, knee collateral ligament sprains, neck strains and contusions. In addition, they suggest that “individuals with decreased strength, balance, proprioception and neuromuscular control at a greater risk for injury”. Fairly obvious stuff, but it is good reinforcement. Basically what this suggests is that weaker wrestlers are at greater risk of injury than their stronger counterparts. Really? Go figure.
6. In addition to the aforementioned exercises, some great injury prevention measures when it comes to exercise selection for wrestlers may also include the development of single leg strength, direct rotator cuff strengthening exercises, direct neck strengthening exercises as well as the development of strong torso musculature.
7. While the basic exercises form the foundation for the program, implementing strongman variations such as farmers walks, sled dragging, keg carrying and tire flipping are great exercises that will have tremendous carry over to sport.
8. Nutrition and recovery is part of the training process. Eating garbage and sleeping four hours per night is hardly optimal for recovery and the fact of the matter is performance will suffer in the gym and on the mat.
9. A successful strength and conditioning program must be designed with all of the athletes other activities taken into account
10. If you placed 5th in the state tournament this year and are hoping for a state championship season next year, preparation does not begin next week, next month or in the summer, it begins now.