by Coach Bott
Wrestling Season is just around the corner for high school and college aged varsity athletes.
Thus, the pre-season serves as a great time to turn up the intensity with off mat wrestling workouts. Generally, over the spring and summer months, most wrestlers keep up their conditioning doing general workouts like running and hit the gym to build muscle and increase their maximal strength. It’s during the Pre-Season where wrestling workouts now need to focus on speed and power development.
It’s never too late to start a formal off-mat training program. Structure is never a bad thing for an athlete and usually keeps them on track and accountable to their teammates and coaching staff.
Practices are usually at regularly scheduled times and sparring partners are more abundant once the school year begins; it will benefit athletes to have a strength and conditioning partner to train with.
It’s time to peak for the upcoming wrestling season!
Wrestlers do not need the same type of endurance as a distance runner. Instead, during the pre-season, off mat wrestling workouts should include repeat-sprint intervals to build speed-endurance and plyometrics to build explosive power.
Speed-endurance workouts use something called the ‘serial-method’ – a Russian tactic of training short bursts of maximal sprint work with carefully prescribed rest periods. This will allow the wrestler to maintain a very fast pace and sustain their power outputs over an entire 6-minute match.
An example is a hill sprint workout. Find a steep hill and sprint to the top for 6 seconds. Then jog slowly for 60 seconds, repeating this for 5 rounds. Here is the Russian secret – if you insert a 5-minute recovery jog after the 5 rounds, you will easily be able to do another 5 sets of 6 seconds of maximal work. Try it! Always insert 5 minutes of easy jogging after 5 sets of hills and you will only get faster.
Plyometric workouts are also very important in developing explosive power. Every wrestler wants more horsepower. Even though wrestlers should do some form of plyometrics all year round, during the pre-season it is a good idea to do more. Plyometrics are the total integration of strength, speed, loading and stretch. And plyometric drills, when done properly, allow for faster and more powerful changes of level and direction for the wrestler. It is a myth to think you need to be super-strong to do plyometrics safely. Both strength and power can be developed in tandem.
Here is a video that addresses plyometric training in the Pre-Season wrestling workouts:
Plyometrics should be done twice per week for a 4-week block to prime a wrestler for his or her season. Lower body explosive power development is important so drills that develop the legs and the hips are selected. The quicker the action sequence, the greater the force generated by the athlete and wrestlers will only benefit from the reps they do well. – sets and reps are only guidelines, not rules when it come to plyometrics. Rest is also important between sets otherwise you will be come slower.
Here is a brief technique checklist for Plyometric Workouts:
- Breath should never be released during the ground contact phase or any other phase where
maximal effort is produced
- When landing, DO NOT roll heel to toe. Instead, maintain a locked ankle and strike the
- Jump with as much effort as possible – believe it or not, THIS IS KEY
Now that the Pre-Season is upon you, what are you waiting for? Get on it!
Carmen Bott has been in the sport performance and fitness training industry for over 20 years and is considered a resource in exercise prescription and strength coaching for the combative and collision sport athlete population(s). Carmen holds a bachelor’s in Human Kinetics and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. As a member of the International Network of Wrestling Researchers, Coach Bott’s methods are grounded in science, but it is her 20+ years of experience that allow her to transfer the science into practice.