6-Minute Conditioning for Wrestlers

March 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaches Corner, Training

A long time ago I figured out that wrestlers are still busy students and family members.  You have to go to school, wrestle, eat, sleep, and do it again for months at a time.

That’s why strength and conditioning begins to diminish as the season progresses.

… not good!!

That’s why I came up with the 6 Minute Conditioning Program for Wrestlers a couple of years ago.  It’s a body weight program that helps develop strength, power/speed and conditioning at the same time… with nothing more than a stopwatch and some guts!

The other thing about the program is that the exercises I’ve chosen will work synergistically to give you wrestling-specific functional development.

I like it as a little extra at the end of wrestling practice!  Check it out below:


6 Minute Conditioning for Wrestlers Program

How To Develop Strength
Getting stronger is actually quite simple.  You need to create an environment of Progressive Resistance – that means you want to keep challenging your muscles with continuous, increasing stimulus.

The other thing that is important to getting strong as far as training is concerned is something called Overload.  Overload is when you ask your muscles to do something that they can’t do. In other words, you want to challenge your muscles with a working stimulus that eventually becomes impossible to continue using.

This is sometimes called reaching failure…

I like to refer to strength training as one of the few times in life where you ‘want to fail.’  This ‘good failure’ simply means to train your muscles to the point where another repetition in good form is impossible to complete.

Training a muscle to failure the premise behind getting stronger on this program.  When you begin this program you will get to a point within 6 minutes where you can’t force your muscles to continue with one of the exercises – you will have failed during that exercise.  This sets the initial tone for muscular strength gains.  Over time you may need to add additional stimulus in order to continue Progressive Resistance for your muscles.

Also, because you are accomplishing the point where you reach Overload in your muscles during the short workouts, you ‘might’ allow your body to release powerful hormones (Testosterone and Growth Hormone) naturally to induce more gains in strength and development.  With all things equal, if you can accomplish the same amount of work in less time you will get stronger over the long run.

One of the cool things about the program is the introduction of Lunges and variations of them which really lend themselves to complete ‘wrestling-specific’ exercise selection.  Further, Lunges that are done with static holds start to build that neuromuscular connection throughout the posterior chain area… and this results in faster takedown speed as well as faster defensive wrestling.

How To Develop Power
Power and speed are attributes of an athlete who is strong.  A stronger muscle is a faster muscle… to a certain extent.  Once we make a muscle stronger, we see more power and speed.  At that point we can increase power and speed even more with specialized training.

One of the ways to train for more power is through multiple, low-repetitions sets of particular exercises.  These exercises must be multi-joint exercises that use most of the body at the same time.  These exercises are performed explosively for just a few repetitions, for multiple sets.

We can now use faster repetition speeds.  When you are getting stronger, you never actually move weight (or in this case body weight) fast… due to muscle fibers getting tired.  When training for power we want to explode and move fast in order to incorporate more muscle fibers in an all-out muscular effort that works synergistically to create faster athletic effort.

This program addresses power and speed by incorporating speed, and frequent sets of some of the best body weight exercises in order to address the power and speed needs of a wrestling match.

I’ve chosen ‘fast exercises’ for this program – ones that parallel the competitive spirit as well as the energy output of a growing wrestler.  These exercises are easy to learn too… in fact most of them you’ve probably done in the past in some form.  The difference is how we put them together and the intensity level place on them.

You’ll clearly see in the videos (links are at the end of this manual) how to do the exercises without cutting corners.

How To Condition

Wrestling is an anaerobic sport… bottom line.  Therefore, it is best trained with anaerobic-type conditioning programs.

I never was a fan of traditional Circuit Programs for wrestlers because they wind up being half-assed strength workouts combined with half-assed aerobic workouts.

The issue with traditional Circuit Training, as I watched in one Division I Wrestling Program was a stopwatch being set for 60 seconds and the wrestlers would go from station to station for 60 seconds, grinding out as many reps as they could on each exercise.  But what does this become?  It becomes a guy throwing the weight around as fast as possible with crappy form.  This involves momentum which reduces muscular output.  As a result they get less overall muscle stimulation for increased strength.

In the 6 Minute Conditioning Program we don’t throw weight around.   We don’t need to…  The program is set up so that you fail… in order to get stronger.

When you begin the 6 minute set you are at your strongest, and you will be able to train each exercise fast… with proper form. This means you will be developing speed and power.  As the stopwatch continues, you will get more tired… and this means you will eventually hit momentary muscular failure.  This is the point where you are getting stronger.  Now… do to the fact that we are going to have
alternate periods of hard exercise followed by brief rest for up to 6 minutes, we are training similarly to the needs of a wrestling match.

If it sounds confusing…. don’t worry about it.  I’m going to give you the list of exercises next.

Be sure to give me feedback after you do it too… I want to hear from you:

The Exercises

    Full Body Weight Exercises:

• Burpees
• Jumping Squat
• Burpee Jumping Squat
• Mountain Climbers
• 8 Count Bodybuilders
• Combat Squats
• Pushups

    Static Contraction Exercises:

• Wall Sits
• Lunge with Vertical Contraction
• Lunge with Horizontal Contraction
• Lunge with Twist
• Plank
• 1 – Leg Plank
• Prone Cobra

How To Do The 6 Minute Conditioning Program

• Pick one exercise from the Full Body Exercise list and one exercise from the Static Contraction Exercise list for each workout.  They exercises are arranged in the way that I personally like them but you can mix and match as you see fit.

• Set a stopwatch for 6 minutes and begin.

• Do 5 repetitions of the first exercise (full body exercise)

• Immediately follow with 20 seconds of the second exercise (static contraction exercise)

• If you have a static contraction exercise that uses both sides of the body, then do 10 seconds of one side of the body, followed by 10 seconds of the other side of the body.

• Alternate between 5 repetitions of the Full Body exercise with 20 seconds (or 10 seconds of each side of the body) of the Static Contraction exercise as long as you can.

• If you can do the entire 6 minute program you add another 6 minute combination.

If you’re interested in the complete 6 Minute Conditioning for Wrestlers video program you can get them as a bonus with the Ultimate Wrestling Strength program or by membership at Wrestling Performance.

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 Read more

8 Exercises Wrestlers Should Never Do

April 22, 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.

The top 3 body parts that wrestlers injure are the knee, shoulder and ankle joints.  In order to help prevent injuries in these areas your strength training should help you develop overall strength, power and speed, while addressing the more detailed needs of your knee, shoulder and ankles.

Here are some exercises or style of exercise that you should stay away from as a wrestler…

1.  Don’t do Bench Dips In this exercise you have your feet up on a Bench or Chair and your hands are braced against a Bench behind you.  You lower into a Dip position and push back up.  I’ve found that this exercise tends to put undo pressure on the Rotator Cuff, due to the Scapulae being forced forward and up (like when you apply a Chicken Wing on a fellow wrestler).

2.  Don’t do Bounce Reps on Calf Raises Most guys tend to do Calf Raises way too fast.  When you’re a wrestler, your goal when you train the Calves is to increase the strength of the Gastrocnemius, Soleus and Tibialis Anterior.  When you bounce up and down from start to finish with your Calf exercises, you bring in too much momentum which in turn, minimizes muscle involvement.  Also, you neglect the benefit of increased stability to the ankle joint when you train too fast.

3.  Don’t do Bench Presses if it hurts your Shoulder I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I love the Bench Press.  I used to be pretty good at it too, with a 500 pound Bench at a 189 pound bodyweight (I competed as a “light” 198 lber at that time).   But… for wrestlers, the Bench Press is optional.  If you feel a lot of stress in the Shoulder joint when you Bench Press, just drop ‘em from your training arsenal.  The Bench Press is an ‘Open Chain’ exercise.  This means that when you perform it, you push your hands away from your body.  Open Chain exercises are notorious for causing ‘stress’ and ‘shearing’ on your joints.  In the case of the Bench Press, it isn’t worth it to tweak your Shoulders if you are prone to Shoulder issues.  There are other choices.  I’ll discuss in my next post.

4.  Don’t Do Any Exercise for More Than 4 Weeks Straight Sometimes it’s not the exercise itself that is bad, but the lack of variety that can cause injuries.  Think about Major League Baseball players.  They play a schedule that is close to 200 games, doing the same repetitive actions every time.  They are loaded with little nagging injuries.  The same thing can happen with your wrestling strength training.  You need to train your body through phases of about 4-6 weeks, then switch. (My Ultimate Wrestling Strength and Ultimate Wrestling Power programs utilize 4 week training phases, with amazing results:))

5.  Don’t Do Exercises That Force Your Knees Over Your Toes If you perform Squats, Deadlifts or Lunges and allow your knees to travel forward over your toes, you put yourself in an anatomically compromised position.  This puts stress on the Patellar tendon, leading to knee pain.  The key is to perform these exercises while keeping your tibia (shin) upright throughout the exercise.  In order to do this for Squats and Deadlifts, you will need to use more hips and glutes, which is the result your looking for when strength training for wrestling.

6.  Don’t Do Pullups or Pulldowns Behind Your Neck For ultimate wrestling strength you need to develop your Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), Biceps and Brachialis (forearm).  By performing Pullups or Pulldowns with a Cable and Bar is not a favorite of mine because you are limiting the range of motion required to fully-involve the Lats throughout.  You also put stress on the Rotator Cuff muscles.  This makes them poor choices when developing strength and conditioning programs for wrestling.

7.  Don’t Do Twisting Exercises… Without Clearance First! One of the fastest ways to increase a wrestlers speed and mat performance is to increase the strength in the Internal Obliques.  These muscles are developed with twisting exercises such as Russian Twists.  2 things about this:

  • Start with Bodyweight.  This is more about developing form, range of motion and stability than it is about cranking a lot of weight.
  • Make sure you don’t have an underlying issue with your Intervertebral Discs.  Have a Doctor check you out.

8.  Don’t Do Presses Behind the Neck Shoulder presses should always be performed either to the front or neutral (when you use Dumbbells).  Presses behind the neck are notorious for the stress they put on the Rotator Cuff as well as impingements in the Neck area.  Your range of motion is limited as well, allowing less muscle involvement.


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.

Great Body Weight Exercises for Wrestlers

April 15, 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.


The One-Leg Burpee/Jumping Squat is one of my favorite body weight exercises for wrestlers!  It is a full-body (almost full body… it doesn’t give a complete back workout) exercise that will:

  • Increase your Strength
  • Increase your Power (Speed)
  • Increase your Conditioning
  • Increase your Core involvement

Check out this 18 second video…  I did a few reps for you to give the an idea of how it’s done.

(Ok, I admit it… I was tired and ‘dogging it’ while I did these.  It was at the end of a tough leg workout, and I get a little slack for being 43… right??:))  Just be sure you generate as much speed and explosion as you can with each repetition!




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.

Clarissa Chun Wins 2011 US Open Championship

April 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Wrestling, Coaches Corner

Congratulations to Clarissa Chun (Roosevelt ’99), who captured the 48KG title today at the 2011 ASICS US Open Championships and was named Most Outstanding Wrestler. Chun was not challenged much on her way to the finals, wehre she beat Nicole Wooden (Sunkist Kids) in the finals 6-0, 6-0.

Congratulations Clarissa!

update 4/13/11: Thanks to Anonymous below for posting the video link to the match:

23 Strength and Conditioning Tips for Wrestlers

April 8, 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.

Hard work beats talent, when talent refuses to work hard!”

“Champions are built in the Off-Season”

These 2 quotes are my favorites… especially when referring to wrestlers!

I’ve always been a firm believer that you can transform yourself as a wrestler by attending Off-Season Camps, Clinics and Club… as well as a sound, year-round approach to your Strength and Conditioning.

With that in mind, here are 23 Strength and Conditioning tips that I wanted you to have:

1.  Divide your Year-Round Training Into 3 Seasons – It’s best to have an Off-Season, Pre-season and In-season training approach for the best results.  Each season has a distinct purpose.  The Offseason helps you build more strength and muscle density.  The Preseason helps you turn that increased strength into more speed and power.  The In-season is meant to help you avoid injuries and hold on to your muscle… especially when you cut weight. Read more

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.

Chain Drills

July 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Coaches Corner

I’ve always felt that taking time to hit the road/track during practice sessions was largely a waste of time. Conditioning is clearly important but after all, we’re a wrestling team, not a cross country team. Matt learned a great tip from Gene Mills for increasing physical intensity/conditioning, while still wrestling: Chain Drills.

It’s so simple, I wish we had started doing it earlier. Basically, one wrestler hits  a move, the other wrestler hits a follow up move, and they start over again. For example, the first wrestler hits a high-crotch & finishes to the mat. The pair immediately gets set in referee’s position, with the guy who drilled the takedown in top position. Bottom man hits a stand-up, scores the escape, then hits his own high-crotch. This can be made to work for both takedowns and matwork.

We drill this by time (1 or 2 minute sets), rather than by reps. Besides drilling the moves, it also reinforces chain wrestling and of course, is pretty close to live wrestling from a conditioning standpoint.

Now, the next level (which we haven’t tackled in our practices yet) is to structure the entire practice around this type of activity. Over the years, Coach Gary Mayabb of Staley HS and Team Missouri (and one of the best high school coaches in the country) has been very generous to Team Hawaii and allowed them to practice with Team Missouri ahead of the Cadet/Junior Nationals in July. Coach Mayab bases an entire practice around this concept of constant, constructive activity. It makes for a great workout.

Quick Iterations Keep it Interesting

July 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Coaches Corner

Unless you’ve got the personality (and the skills) of Mean Gene Mills, it can sometimes be hard to keep your wrestlers’ attention when teaching. This is a tip we picked up from Sammy Chagolla when he came to do a clinic for us.

Rather than explain a move (especially a complicated one) from beginning to end and trying to cover all the key points at once, do a quick demo of the move, highlight the most important things, then cut the wrestlers loose for a few reps. Since you didn’t cover everything, they’ll probably make a lot of mistakes or get stuck on one point or another. That’s OK. Let them drill a few reps, then bring the group back in, emphasize just one or two teaching points, then send them back for more reps. You can end up doing this five or six times (or more) but it doesn’t take any more time than teaching the “normal” way and helps keep the wrestlers engaged.

Teaching Takedowns

June 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Coaches Corner

Here are a few random tips for teaching takedowns that we’ve learned over the years and incorporated into our practices:

Face of a Clock
This is a tip we learned from Steve Knight at Excel Wrestling. When teaching takedowns, we teach attacks to zones based on the face of clock. For example, when facing him, your opponent’s left leg is 5 o’clock, his right is 7 o’clock, his left shoulder (for a duck-under, for example) is 1 o’clock, etc. Besides simplifying communication with our wrestlers, the other benefit is that the wrestlers can choose their favorite technique to the particular attack zone.

If one wrestler likes a high-crotch to 5 o’clock, but another prefers a sweep single, it doesn’t matter when we’re drilling or competing. When we practice, we simply drill “5 o’clock attack” and the wrestler chooses the technique they’re most comfortable with. This lets us accommodate different styles while still having the whole team working on (more or less) the same thing.

Left & Right Doesn’t Matter
Back when I was wrestling, we always drilled every technique to both sides. It seems many coaches at the advanced level have abandoned this and we have too. A wrestler certainly needs attacks to all attack zones, but his 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock attacks don’t both need to be the same skill. In fact, there are some good reasons why they shouldn’t be the same skill. This also applies to pinning combinations and escapes. A wrestler should develop the skills that best suits their style and comfort level. It doesn’t matter that that the left side and right side moves are different.

Teach the Finish First
This is something Matt picked up from Terry Steiner at one of his Hawaii clinics. Conventional wisdom has been to teach setup-penetration-finish, in that order. Terry contends that when a takedown is countered (at all levels), the attacker is usually stuck working for the finish. Since this is the phase of the takedown where a wrestler is likely to spend most of his time, we should emphasize it as we develop his skills. At the beginning of the year, when we start reviewing our fundamental takedowns, we first teach what a good finish position looks & feels like, and do all of our drilling starting from that position. Later on, we back up and start drilling setups & penetrations. Our ability to finish takedowns dramatically improved when we adopted this teaching sequence.

I’m sure others have come across some great tips for teaching takedowns. Please comment below and share your ideas!