4 Off-season Lifting Tips for Wrestlers

April 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Wrestling, Coaches Corner

This is a guest post by Steve Preston, Wrestling Performance Specialist and author of Ultimate Wrestling Power. Matside Hawaii is an affiliate for Steve’s program.


1.  Do Closed-Chain Exercises: Closed-Chain exercises are those where the feet or hands are firmly planted or holding on to the ground or something stable, and don’t move throughout the exercise.  This is different from Open-Chain exercises where the hands or feet are moving throughout the exercise.

Closed Chain exercises should make up about 2/3 or more of your Off-season lifting program for wrestlers.  This is because they force you to use more muscle than Open-Chain exercises.  They are generally considered more ‘functional’ too.  This is crucial to developing that ’carry-over’ from your strength training to the wrestling mat!

Some great examples of Closed-Chain exercises are Squats, Deadlifts, Dips, Chinups, Pullups, Pushup variations, Leg Press, etc.

2.  Increase Stability:  Everything you do on the wrestling mat requires strength throughout your entire core area.  That’s why it is important to fully-develop your strength in the core during the Off-season. For wrestling performance you should emphasize core training that involves the Internal Oblique muscles.  This will result in more explosive wrestling next season.  Some great examples of wrestling- specific core training exercises are:  Russian Twists, Woodchoppers, Reverse Woodchoppers, Twisting Crunches, One Arm Medicine Ball Toe Touches etc.

3.  Strengthen Your Posterior Chain:  The Hips, Glutes, Lower Back, Middle Back and Hamstrings all work synergistically to help you develop force and power on the mat… much like a rear-wheel drive muscle-car. By developing them as a unit with multi-joint exercises you will develop more mat speed and strength.  High School wrestlers should spend extra time in the Off-season to develop this area.  Some of my favorites exercises for the Posterior Chain are:  Pull-throughs with Cable, Reverse Hyperextensions, Glute/Ham Raise, Sumo/Regular Deadlifts, Trap Bar Deadlifts, One-Leg Good Mornings etc.

4.  Unilateral Training: This is simply training one side of the body at a time.  When we work with Youth Wrestlers, Unilateral training helps develop stabilizing muscles, which leads to better balance and skills. This helps train them to be better athletes as they mature into High School Wrestlers. Unilateral Training becomes more involved when used properly by the High School Wrestler.

I believe that wrestlers will benefit so much more with their overall strength levels as well as neuromuscular coordination by adding Unilateral Training exercises to their program.  Some great examples of Unilateral Exercises that are great for wrestlers are:  Lunges and Lunge variations, One Leg Squats, One Arm Chest Press, One Arm Pushups, One Arm Rows etc.


About the author – Who is Steve Preston?

Steve began strength training over 25 years ago when he was a Freshman in High School.  He quickly became bitten by the strength training bug and was New York State Powerlifting Champion at 16 years old.  He competed Nationally in Powerlifting won another State Championship, 2nd Place at Nationals and a Junior World Record in the Bench Press.  His best training lifts competition lifts are:  Bench Press – 500 lbs,  Squat – 630,  Deadlift – 630 lbs.
He earned a BS in Physical Education from Canisius College in 1991 and began working with athletes at the High School level.  His keen interest in Anatomy and Physiology, Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology led to years of research and development of training and nutrition tactics to take his athletes to new levels of athletic performance.  This resulted in exclusive training of wrestlers who were seeking gains in their mat performance. He is the creator of Ultimate Wrestling Power.

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