Special Strength Training for Wrestlers – The KEY to Building Dominant Wrestlers



Many THINK they know what wrestlers need when it comes to "strength & conditioning" but I assure you, it is more than strength and more than conditioning. I still see training that is actually too "perfect" for wrestlers. I still see training that is too boring and common for wrestlers.

Wrestlers are often "crazy" and eccentric, especially at the higher levels. So, as they get more advanced in wrestling, the training must challenge them mentally and physically. I've been around wrestling and lifting weights since 1989. That gives me a LONG history of experience.

The Art of Coaching and The Coach's Eye is what's missing - training wrestlers needs to be a blend of science and a blend of hell.

That's right, training must be TOUGH. It must break the rules of what traditional sports science says to do. Many wrestlers actually perform and feel better when some crazy training is incorporated.

Below are some quick recommendations from Louie Simmons and Tom Barry at Westside Barbell.

The tricky thing here is what can be done with a small group of wrestlers compare to how I might train a large team of wrestlers is different. Equipment availability also changes things, so if you don't make your own equipment like tire sleds, you'll be at a loss.

TOUGH training is NOT supposed to dangerous or to be performed with incorrect technique. TOUGH training is still technically proficient but also pushes the wrestler to new heights.

When I watch a wrestler compete, I can identify where he / she struggles, not just physically / technically, but also emotionally and mentally.

Look at the wrestlers of Dagestan, they train in the mountains and without perfect equipment or some cozy environment.

And now, the BIG ticket: The Dagestan wrestlers train ALL Year Round and don't have "too many chefs in the kitchen". The Wrestling Coach IS the Performance Coach. In Russia, Coaches get their masters degree and PhD in a specific sport or a specific aspect of their sport.

Alexander Karelin for example, has a PhD is titled: "Methods of execution of suplex throw counters." He also has a degree in law. As you can see, Russia takes the study of sport to the highest degree of detail. Other Coaches might have a PhD in the long jump, in the 100 mtr sprint, etc.

In America, we have all of this under one roof and often at the same time, in turn creating many champion athletes but often times athletes who are NOT coachable because they often feel they need something "special", something different than anything they have in front of them:

  • a high school wrestling coach
  • a club wrestling coach
  • a mindset coach
  • a father trying to coach and tell his son / daughter what to do
  • a strength coach
  • a "speed coach" who tells the parents and athletes "Your son needs foot work"

In Russia, the focus is on the athlete and helping the country win. In America, the fads and gimmicks are endless and uneducated people are viewed as a "coach". These are the unfortunate truths.

Often times, parents pull kids from one school to the next, from one coach to the next, adding even more chefs to the kitchen.

The best wrestlers I've worked with were always consistent and stayed at one club. In America, our Olympic Wrestlers are beginning to rival the best countries in the world. A big reasons is because we now have world class coaches at the younger ages, just like Russia always did from many decades ago.

This blend of sport and performance coach being one of the same inspired me to dig deeper with training and to create The SSPC Certification. I wanted to teach Coaches how to dig deeper, to analyze sports performance and create training programs that truly developed athletes rather than athletes who can lift heavy and not much else.

Wrestlers need to build many of the Special Strengths as outlined by Zatsiorsky & Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell.  I discuss special strength training often in my podcast during the QnA episodes so use that search bar and get your learn on. Research anything right here.

Wrestlers particularly need to focus on strength endurance, power endurance and muscular endurance - these 2 special strengths are of crucial importance to the wrestler.

This style of training will improve wrestling performance and also boost their grit / toughness.

Conditioning is best developed through fast paced wrestling and drilling. TOO much conditioning off of the mat will backfire and detrain the wrestler. GPP is a must for wrestlers.

The best wrestlers have ATHLETICISM. Hence you must jump, crawl, climb, carry, sprint & include "complex" lifts. This is why we implement Cleans from various positions as well as implementation of gymnastics and various training tools / methods.

Treat each wrestler individually as they advance. Some of my wrestlers train 1 x week in season for 25 minutes, others felt best training 2 - 3 x week for 45-60 minutes.

The training must match their mindset as they advance. On the flip side, a wrestler (any other athletes for that matter) need to be careful of getting too fancy or too "sepcialized" in their training. Especially if they begin acquiring the attitude of "I can't squat or deadlift".

This is like going to practice and saying I can't drill takedowns. The Basics and Fundamentals will always work. ALWAYS.

The wrestler you can NEVER help, like all athletes, is the one who is NOT coachable & always thinks he needs "something special".

In Wrestling, word champions win from double leg takedowns aka BASICS.

Whether it's the NFL or athletes in high school and everyone in between, there is a common mistake made amongst these athletes......

Think about this:

  • How does one become great at anything, whether it's a sport, an art form, a creative medium, etc?

The Answer:

They become GREAT at the fundamentals / basics.

Simple Things Done Savagely Well Brilliance with the Basics

In the recent Olympics, the 2 men who won Gold in Wrestling, they won in the final seconds with the 2 moves you learn as a first year wrestler.

It's the 2 moves I would teach to a 5 year old.

A double leg takedown.

A go behind.

Even at the most elite levels, the basics win, BOTH in Sports and in the Weight Room.

Yet you have AMATEURS who say they can't Squat. "I have a bad back"

They can't pick up heavy objects. "I have a herniated disc."

They need a special this and special that.

In the weight room, movements are controlled. If an athlete can wrestle, play Football, basketball, etc then they CAN train in the weight room. 

Before you know it, they need everything so special that everyone is tap dancing around this "sepcial athlete".

Let me tell you, there is always a way to Squat.

There are endless variations of Squats.

The REAL issue is people get so arrogant and have such poor knowledge, they think they are too good for the basics.

Yet here we are, Gold Medals being won from the BASICS.

So a little wake up call for the excuse makers.....

Get Your Head out of your a-- and SQUAT.

Do the Basics.

Pour your heart and soul into the basics.

I've coached from youth to D1.

I worked with the world's elite military.

Wanna know who was wide eyed and ready to learn how to Squat and Deadlift?

The world's elite Military. The Navy SEALs.

That's right. The best of the best know how and what it takes and they are hungry to learn.

The amateurs, they seek the fads and gimmicks.

Train your wrestlers / athletes to WIN. Do NOT worry about more likes / views.

Those who follow through will WIN.

Live The Code 365,



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