Blog Archives

Ten More Random Thoughts

  1. Strength training should be progressive.  It should be based on quality over quantity.  The goal should not be to cram as many reps, rounds or whatever as possible into ten or twelve minutes.  I’m just saying.


  1. In general, the methods used for cardiovascular conditioning should have a relatively low learning curve.  Think sled pushing/dragging, bike sprints, and bodyweight calisthenics NOT Olympic lifts.


  1. For regular people trying to get (and stay) lean and muscular, please google Dr. John Berardi’s 7 Rules of Good Nutrition.  It is pretty simple.


  1. While it is true that there is no perfect program for everybody, it is true that some programs are closer to perfect than others.


  1. Do not treat clients like patients.  You can always train around injuries.


  1. Training is a process and should be viewed as such. 


  1. Contrary to what some will have you think, not everybody is ready to do the same exact program with different external loads.  Sometimes it’s just not that simple.  See number 6.


  1. Someone else said it first but it certainly bears repeating, “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”  Fact.


  1. Before focusing on recovery, there needs to be some training to recover from.


  1. For those parents who are nervous about their kids strength training, please google  Dr. Avery Faigenbaum.  He has published tons of peer reviewed research on youth strength training.











Ten Lessons that Wrestling Taught Me

Ten Lessons that Wrestling Taught Me by Dave Coffin, CSCS


We all have life experiences that help to shape the person we eventually become.  I would like to share some lessons I learned through my experience as a middle school and high school wrestler.  While it is true that I was not the greatest technician in the world, what I lacked in techniques I feel I made up for with heart, guts and tons of hard work.  I think it is safe to say that if you have never wrestled, your threshold for physical exertion is just a bit lower than those of us that have had the pleasure.  Here are the ten lessons that wrestling taught me.

1.  Wrestling taught me discipline…the discipline to eat, train and live a certain way in order to succeed, even if it wasn’t always enjoyable.

 2.  It taught me the importance of sacrifice…sacrificing eating foods I like and going out with friends on Friday night in exchange for running an additional hour or two after a two hour wrestling practice in order to make weight the next day.

 3.  It taught me perseverance…the perseverance to push through extreme physical discomfort and exhaustion.

 4.  Wrestling taught me the importance of commitment…commitment to a team and to myself.

 5.  It taught me that hard work does in fact pay off.

 6.  It taught me that some battles in life can be won with guts and heart.

 7.  Wrestling taught me what the body and mind is truly capable of enduring.

 8.  It taught me how stand up on my own two feet after a personal defeat.

 9.  It taught me that sometimes life is not fair… and I will have to pick up the pieces, suck it up and move on.

 10.  Wrestling taught me that anything worth having in life is worth the fight.

 Dave Coffin is a strength and conditioning specialist in the Greater Boston area.  He develops comprehensive athletic development programs for wrestlers, lacrosse players, hockey players and football players.  He can be contacted at .

Conditioning Considerations for Combat Sports Such as Wrestling


A wrestler since the eighth grade, I can still remember the feeling I had walking off of the mat after my first match in high school.  I felt like I had gotten run over by a truck (which was ironic because I think I actually won by decision) and someone had set my lungs on fire.  That burning in my lungs that I remember is very specific to the sport of wrestling.  That burning is the standard I use to rate the difficulty of conditioning sessions to this day.  I will admit that dragging a sled or pushing a prowler can get the lungs burning a bit and it does make me feel a bit of nostalgia bringing me back to my wrestling days but it is certainly not the same animal.

In this article, I would like to discuss the physiological demands of different bouts of wrestling and why the more traditional methods of cardiovascular training are not optimal for wrestling-specific conditioning.  In the past I have joked that wrestling should be a requirement for one year in high school.  Simply stated, once you have wrestled, every thing else in life seems really easy in comparison. 


Intense activities lasting 1-3 minutes have been shown to stress the lactate system, which is crucial to develop in any type of combat sport.  In research done by Dr. William Kraemer at the University of Wyoming, collegiate wrestlers participated in three two minute periods of wrestling.  “Significant increases in blood lactate levels were observed from rest, between periods and up to five minutes post workout.”

In addition, in his article The Physiological Basis for Wrestling:  Implications for Conditioning Programs, Dr. William Kraemer, et al states that “as a combative sport, wrestling imposes unique stresses on the body (8, 9). From a metabolic perspective, the acid-base balance is severely disrupted. For example, a college or freestyle match lasts between 6 and 8 minutes (including overtime) and can elevate blood lactate concentrations in excess of 15 mmol/L and sometimes reach nearly 20 mmol/L (5, 6)(Figure 1). In comparison, maximal treadmill tests may raise lactate levels to around 10 mmol/L (1)”. 

Practical Application

It is clear from the above findings that long bouts of low intensity exercise are not optimal for developing the appropriate metabolic pathways for wrestling.  An understanding of exercise physiology and the physiological demands of different bouts of activity are crucial in order to develop effective programs.  Marathon runners do not require the same qualities as combat athletes and the old school idea of jogging does not make sense for wrestlers.  I am astonished at the amount of wrestlers who will run cross country in the fall to “get in shape” for the winter.  Think about it.  Why would you perform hours of long, slow running for a sport that requires repeated, short, explosive bouts of activity followed by incomplete rest periods for typically no more than 6-8 minutes at a time?  The hours spent jogging are a waste of precious training time that could be utilized much more effectively.  These athletes would be much better off performing some type of interval training.  Conditioning tools such as pushing/dragging sleds, Airdyne bikes, and battling ropes are great tools to make conditioning more appealing while developing sport-specific conditioning.  Sport-specific is one of the biggest buzzwords in strength and conditioning right now and there is nothing less specific to wrestling than endless amounts of low intensity cardiovascular training.