8 Body Parts to Emphasize for Wrestling

April 29, 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.

Wrestling is such a unique sport…

Besides being one of the only sport that requires almost no equipment, it is also one of the few sports where big, strong biceps are an advantage!  (I know a lot of guys like training those “guns” so this should be good news)

But wrestlers also need to train the other “key” areas…

Here they are:

1.  Buttocks/Hips –  Having strong “glutes” helps you with everything from sprawling to standing up from the bottom position, to takedowns.  They are the cornerstone of your wrestling strength.  Some of the best exercises for them are:

  • Barbell Squats with bar held low
  • Reverse Hyperextensions
  • Glute/Ham Machine
  • Leg Press with Feet High and Wide

2. Thighs – Strong Thighs allows you to finish your moves.  They give you stability on the mat.  They allow you to be a fierce “leg-wrestler” too…  Specifically, we want to get the Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Abductors and Adductors strong to make up a complete “Thigh” workout for wrestling.  Some of my favorite “Thigh” exercises are:

  • One Leg Squats
  • Standups on a Bench
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Deadlifts off a 4 inch box

3.  Shoulders – The Shoulders are the machine behind a strong upper body.  The 3 “heads” of that make up the Shoulder region are the Anterior, Posterior and Middle.  The Middle Head is particularly important for wrestling.  This allows you to crank a half on your opponent and is heavily involved when you turn your opponent for a pin.  Some of my favorite Shoulder exercises are:

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Standing Thick Bar Press
  • Clean and Press
  • Manual Resistance Lateral Raises

4.  Chest – With all of the Pushups wrestlers do, it’s unlikely that the Chest will get neglected.  It’s important to keep the Chest area strong because any time you are squeezing your opponent like when you’re pulling in a leg for a takedown you are activating your Chest muscles.  The Pectoralis Major and Minor are the muscles that we call the Chest.  Some of my favorite Chest exercises for wrestlers are:

  • Weighted Dips with forward lean
  • Weighted Pushups with Shoulder Width Hand Placement
  • Close Grip Incline Press
  • Blast Strap Pushups

5.  Arms – It’s not hard to convince a wrestler to work on their arms to improve wrestling.  Who wouldn’t want bigger, stronger arms while improving wrestling at the same time.  I like to tweak traditional bodybuilding arm exercises to make them more sport-specific for wrestling.  Some of them are:

  • Thick Bar Curls
  • Thick Bar Reverse Curls
  • Thick Bar Shoulder Width Pushdowns
  • DB Hammer Curls

6.  Hands – Increased grip strength is absolutely necessary for ultimate wrestling performance.  Having a steel-grip will make you a force on the wrestling mat.  Generally, your grip will improve while the rest of you gets stronger.  Using a Thick Bar as with arm training will also develop your hand strength.  To help the grip along, some of the exercises are like are:

  • Trap Bar Deadlifts with 20 + reps
  • Pullups with a Towel
  • Farmers Walk
  • Plate Grip for time

7.  Waist – Core training for wrestling is not like training your abs for a bodybuilding contest.  Wrestlers need to have a really strong Internal Oblique area.  These are the muscles under the “love handles.”  They really help your mat speed by initiating twist at the core, which in turn acts as a whip for moving your body.  Some of my favorite Core movements for wrestlers are:

  • Glute/Ham Raise Static Hold (in parallel position)
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Planks and varieties of Planks
  • Medicine Ball Slams
  • Tuck Jumps

8.  Neck – The Neck is a must for any wrestler.  You can really increase your performance off the bottom as well as any defensive wrestling with improved neck strength.  You also avoid situations where you could be turned by having improved neck strength.  Some favorites of mine for wrestlers seeking improved neck strength are:

  • Shoulder Shrug with Barbell
  • Bridges for time
  • 4 Way Neck Machine
  • Stability Ball Isometrics against a wall

These are the 8 areas that a wrestler should emphasize in their strength training.  I’ve given you just a few basic exercises that will help you develop strength as it relates to the needs of a wrestling match.  This is just a sample that I pulled off the top of my head.

I hope this helps you kick some @$$ this season!!


About Steve Preston
Steve’s 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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