Strength Training Considerations for the Sport of Wrestling
The sport of wrestling blends some unique demands with regards to strength development. The development of power, maximal strength, strength endurance, grip strength and of course injury prevention measures for common injuries seen in the sport are essential for success. In this article, I will provide an overview of each of these five components as well as a practical training application to develop each one.
Strength Training Consideration #1
The first strength training consideration for wrestling is the development of power. It is certainly useful to be powerful when you are attempting to use your hips explosively to complete a throw in a match. Power is simply an expression of work divided by time. The Olympic lifts (and their variations) are a great way to develop power for the sport of wrestling. These lifts help to increase power output, timing and coordination. Obviously, having a coach that is competent in coaching the lifts is essential to ensure proper technique and more importantly trainee safety. Other methods of developing power that will have carry over to the mat are appropriate jump progressions as well as medicine ball throws for the development of upper body explosiveness.
Strength Training Consideration #2
The second strength training consideration for wrestling is the development of maximal strength. Maximal strength development is essentially training of the nervous system, meaning the athlete will recruit a greater number of motor units per effort and get stronger rather than increasing the muscle cross sectional area. In addition, for wrestlers who are attempting to get stronger without adding a significant amount of body weight, this type of training is appropriate.
Strength Training Consideration #3
The third strength training consideration for wrestling is Personal Strength Training the development of strength endurance. Strength endurance is simply the ability to express ones strength again and again and again with little to no rest periods. Please notice I did not say to lift light weights for high repetitions. Lift heavy weights with little to no rest and then lift them again. Wrestling is typically not a sport that has time outs and long rest periods. Quite the contrary, the rest periods are brutally short and matches consist of repeated bouts of intense activity.
Strength Training Consideration #4
The fourth strength training consideration for wrestling is the development of grip strength. While it is true that conventional exercises such as deadlifts and rows can work the grip to some extent, it is wise to program some direct grip work in to a wrestlers training. Thick handled implements used on exercises such as pull ups, rows and presses are can have tremendous carry over to the sport of wrestling simply because when you grab an opponents wrist, it is not the diameter of a traditional barbell. Other useful exercises such as farmers walks and towel pull ups provide a good amount of bang for your training buck and can also be great for developing wrestling specific strength.
Strength Training Consideration #5
The fifth and final strength training consideration for wrestling is injury prevention measures. Like any other sport, there are injuries that are more common to the sport of wrestling. These include injuries to the shoulder, back, neck and knees. Programming exercises to develop the musculature around these areas will make a wrestler more resilient to injury. I will typically prescribe shoulder stability exercises, direct rotator cuff strengthening exercises as well as a variety of exercises for the musculature of the core.