12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers

12 week Training Program for Wrestlers- An digital image of the Wrestler Strength eBook lifting program offered on wrestler-power.com

The inspiration for this post and attached (free) 12 week training program for wrestlers stems from my die hard readers.  Specifically, I am constantly getting questions about where to find lifting programs on my site.

So, I decided to put together a 12 week training program for wrestlers and make it available to everyone.

Please keep in mind that this program is an entry level program designed for wrestlers who haven’t followed a strength training plan before.

If you have lifting experience, I highly suggest checking out my Programs Page.

But, for those of you who are new to lifting, give this post a read and get started on the program as soon as you can.

12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers

12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers- click here to open.

However, if you’re looking for a slightly more advanced program, be sure to check out my $7 Programs Page:

$7 Programs Page:

Goals Of Program

Goal 1- Technical Proficiency

The first goal of this program is to introduce the wrestler to some of the primary movements I use in my programming. I’ll be honest, these aren’t groundbreaking movements.

If you look at most strength and conditioning plans for wrestlers almost all of them contain a few key components. For instance, I’m sure you’ll find squats, chin-ups, rows, presses, deadlifts, and power movements in any well-designed lifting program for wrestlers.

But, before worrying about more advanced programming, it’s always important to first build the proper foundation. And being that this program is designed to serve as a wrestler’s first lifting program, the focus must be on getting quality reps in.

So please keep this in mind as you work through the program.

Be mindful of your weight selections to ensure the weight doesn’t cause a breakdown in technique. You’ll get better at selecting weights as time goes on. Just keep in mind that I want you to be 100% confident going into each and every set. I want you to know that you’re going to get all of the reps and do so without straining to the point where your technique breaks down.

Consistency is key to success. Long term consistency is what will build the strength you need to be successful on the mat. Rep consistency is what will help you track and measure your progress from week to week.

Here’s what I mean:

In the second video I did 300% more chin-ups! Man I’m getting strong!!

…or am I?

See what I mean about consistency with your technique?

Hold yourself to a high standard.

Ultimately you want to go out and win more matches, right? Not be some half rep chin-up champion.

Goal 2- Determine Working Weights

This is super important to ensuring you’re getting an appropriate training stimulus.

Here’s what I mean.

Say, for instance, you look at Day 1 of Week 9 and see that you’re to do 4 sets of 4 reps Box Squat. So, you do a set of 4 reps with the bar.

Then 4 reps with 95 pounds.

Then 4 reps with 135 pounds.

Then 4 reps with 185 pounds (which you determine to be a fairly challenging set).

The total volume of this 4×4 scheme is 1,840 pounds lifted.

180 (45 pound bar x 4 reps) + 380 (95 pounds x 4 reps) + 540 (135 pounds x 4 reps) + 740 (185 pounds x 4 reps).

While you completed the 4×4 for the Box Squat, you only really got in 1 working set. So, in reality, you got in 4 working reps, not 16.

Compare the above situation to this scenario.

You warm up the same as you did above.

However, when you get to 185 pounds, you perform 4×4.

The total volume for this example produces 4,060 pounds lifted.

180 (45 pound bar x 4 reps) + 380 (95 pounds x 4 reps) + 540 (135 pounds x 4 reps) + 2,960 (185 pounds x 4 reps x 4 sets).

Generally speaking, who has the better opportunity to get stronger- the person lifting 1,840 pounds or the person lifting 4,060 pounds?

Do you see why understanding the importance of determining working weights is a primary goal for this program?

Goal 3- Managing All Training

The final big goal of this program is to start to teach you how to manage all of the training you do (lifting, wrestling, additional conditioning, etc.).

I always tell my clients- anyone can put you through a training session and make you sore for a week. It takes an expert to find the appropriate workload to ensure you make progress toward all of your goals.

Your goal for following a lifting program for wrestling is to make you a better wrestler, right? You want to win more matches.

In order to do that you probably need to be stronger and faster. In addition, you also need to improve your timing, technique, setups, and conditioning, right?

But, when your legs are sore to the point of not being able to walk normally, can you get the most out of practice?

And when you’re not able to get the most out of each practice is your timing getting better?

What about your technique or setups?

And how about your conditioning?

Do you see what I’m getting at?

Being mindful of what you’re doing and how it impacts everything else is of the utmost importance.

Never lose sight of your ultimate goal- becoming a better wrestler.

Is squatting so much that can’t even get up from your couch going to get you there?

But, is half assing it in the weight room going to get you there?

Again, this is why the 3rd goal of the program is to learn how to balance your training.

Personalizing Your Plan

While you probably don’t have a ton of experience with personalizing lifting programs for wrestlers, here are a couple things that may help you as you get started.

First, nothing says you have to follow this program word for word.

What do I mean by that?

For instance, say you complete Week 2 and you still feel as though you’re getting a little too sore. Sore to the point where it’s affecting your ability to practice at the level you would like.

Simply repeat Week 2 again, rather than going on to Week 3 (which has a higher volume).

If after you repeat Week 2 you find that you’re able to wrestle well, then move on to the higher volume in Week 3. Avoid following the program to the letter if it’s grinding you into the ground. Does this make sense?

Speaking Of Personalized Plans…

Exercise Adjustments

You can also make adjustments to the exercises based on your current strength levels.

For example, maybe you’ll find that performing proper Planks for 40 seconds isn’t that difficult for you. If you look ahead in the program you’ll see that Planks progress to Ball Rollouts (as well as the Ab Wheel Progression). Simply perform Ball Rollouts or Ab Wheels instead of Planks during the first 4 week phase of the program.

Additionally, maybe you’re strong enough to perform strict chin-ups for 5 reps. If that’s the case, feel free to replace Pulldowns with a hold during the first 4 weeks of the program.

And, if you find strict chin-ups for 5 reps are easy, start adding weight. Just be sure your reps stay consistent.

Furthermore, if you’re not able to progress to 5 strict chin-ups in Week 5, I suggest one of the following solutions based on these scenarios:

Scenario 1- You have bands but can’t perform any strict chin-ups.

Use band assistance to help you perform 5 reps. Look to decrease the band tension you use from week to week.

Scenario 2- You have bands and can perform 1-4 strict chin-ups.

For example, say you can perform 2 strict chin-ups. Start by performing 2 reps without assistance, and then use the band to complete the other 3 reps.

The next week, try to perform 3 strict reps without any assistance. Obviously if you find your rep consistency starts to suffer, then back off. But, this is what you should be striving to do week to week so long as your technique doesn’t suffer.

Scenario 3- You don’t have bands and can perform 1-4 strict chin-ups.

Perform however many reps you can. Then perform a set of pulldowns with a hold for 5 reps.

This doesn’t need to be turned into a fast paced bodybuilder superset. However, the pulldowns should be performed pretty soon after each set of chin-ups.

Scenario 4- You don’t have bands and can’t perform bodyweight chin-ups.

Keep performing pulldowns with a hold. Continue to strive to progress the weight on a weekly basis as long as your reps remain consistent. As you have noticed, this is a theme with every exercise.

If you’re close to performing chin-ups, try to get some good reps out every other week or so.

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. No one builds incredible strength overnight. It takes many, many years of consistent hard work.

Changes Over The Years

At the time of writing this, I’ve worked with wrestlers for over 10 years. And over the years I’ve learned a ton (through working with clients and the research I’ve done).

Some big things have changed since I worked with NCAA Champions JP O’Connor (Harvard), Troy Nickerson (Cornell), Kyle Dake (Cornell), and All-Americans like Donnie Vinson (3rd), Justin Lister (4th), and Nick Gwizdowski (8th his Freshman year when I worked with him). Here are the biggest changes:

1. Variation

I don’t vary exercises nearly as much as I did in the past. Over the years I’ve slowly whittled away at the exercises I use in programs as I’ve identified ones that I feel have a much better carryover to performance on the mat.

In the past I used to promote switching exercises every 3-6 weeks.

Since then I’ve been able to eliminate exercises that I didn’t think were carrying over to an improved performance on the mat. Cutting back on the variation also makes sense to me for other reasons.

First, I don’t see the point in making changes if you’re making progress with the current exercises. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” would apply here.

Second, as I utilize a percentage scheme more, especially in season, I’ve found that guys are still able to make progress without having to change exercises.

Finally, it just makes more sense to me. Think about it- if you wanted to get good at finishing a single leg, you’d drill it more and use it in practice, right?

The same goes with lifting. If you want to increase your squat, you’d better be ready to put some work in squatting.

2. Maxing Regularly

I used to use more of a Westside/conjugate method of programming. It made sense to me at the time because there are so many factors that could lead to a good day or bad day in the weight room. Just push yourself to the best of your ability on the given day, since you need to do that from match to match anyway.

Since then I’ve learned the difference between constantly “testing” and actually “building strength.” My old system had a lot of testing and not so much building.

Did it work?

Based on the results, I’d say yes.

Do I now think there is a better way?


I can still build lots of strength and power in the wrestlers I work with. I just am able to do it with a lot less work (and therefore wear and tear). Guys now are able to practice harder and become better wrestlers all while getting stronger and more powerful.

My time working with Division 1 wrestlers has greatly influenced this adjustment.

I’ve learned the importance of “walking the fine line.” What this means is that it’s crucial to find the right balance of too much work (and overtraining) and too little work (and no improvements).

In addition, as I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients over many years, I’ve had to learn to develop a more advanced system. Years ago I took weak guys (225-275 deadlift, for example) and made them pretty strong (365-405 deadlift) within a year.

However, what I did to take them from weak to pretty strong wouldn’t work for someone going from pretty strong to very strong. This is what I have to do with long-term clients.

Less is more and adequate rest is a must if you’re looking to super strong. Here’s what I mean by super strong:

This wrestler has been working with me since he was in 4th grade, so over 8 years.

3. Shot Speed/Power Training

This has gone from “I think this may work” to “I know this will work.”

I don’t know how much I need to say here, because I’ve written quite a few posts on the topic- Two Proven Ways To Shoot Faster.

But, in a nutshell, through my work with the Tendo unit, I’ve been able to get a solid understanding of what needs to go on to improve shot speed and power.

Do I have data that proves that shooting faster will make you a better wrestler?


But, I also don’t think you could convince me that if Jordan Burroughs was slower that he’d be the monster he is.

4. Back to the Basics

I don’t write as much about specialized equipment anymore. I still use a lot of the unique bars and equipment I have at my gym. I have just gotten away from writing about using them in programs.


Because a great majority of the people I work with now are clients who I train via email.

Typically, they only have access to a rack, bar, bench, and dumbbells.

Additionally, the college wrestlers (primarily from Binghamton University) I train usually don’t have access to specialized equipment when they go home.

So, I’ve grown more accustomed to programming with fewer options. This kind of goes hand in hand with me cutting back on the variety of exercises I use in a program.

5. Working Sets

For exercises other than jump variations/power movements, those sets and reps are to be done with a working weight.

So, perform warm-up sets as needed until you get to a challenging weight for the listed reps. Then perform your sets.

The sets don’t all need to be at the same weight, but should probably end up within 10-20 pounds of your heaviest weight used.

Sets don’t need to be done to failure, however, for a set to count you should have no more than 2 more reps in the tank when you finish.

You’ll get better at gauging this as your experience increases, so don’t worry if you’re initially unsure what should and should not count.

6. Linear Progression

This is another basic principle that I feel has gotten lost. Linear progression is simply looking to add weight every week.

What ever happened to that?

I mean, that’s how you get stronger, right?

By definition, it’s the ability to apply more force (ie lift heavier shit).

Here’s a copy and paste I used to include in all of my programs:

Additionally, you should strive for, what’s called “linear progression.” All that means is that, for the most part, every session and every week you should be able to add at least a little weight to each exercise, or perform it with greater control or at a more difficult progression or range of motion (as in the case of the Ab Wheel).

If you’re not confident with adding weight, or you feel your technique will breakdown with the addition of more weight, try to hit more sets at the heaviest weight you did the week before.

For instance, say you did 100 pounds in the Squat in week 1, but only did 1 set. The other sets you did were at 90 pounds.

In week 2 you don’t feel like you’ll be able to move up to 105 and get X reps. Or if you do get X reps it would be to failure and your form would potentially breakdown.

If either of those are the case, simply try to get 2 or more sets at 100. That is still considered to be progress- you did more sets with your peak weight.

As a result, the total amount of weight lifted (total volume) in the Squat variation will be more than the previous week.

Is this going to happen every week?


If it did, we’d all be 1,000-pound squatters in no time. But it’s something to strive to do. That’s what getting stronger is all about.

With that said, here’s a template to give you an example of what my current training system looks like.

Basic Training Template

Day 1

Superset 1- Explosive movement and Core movement.
Superset 2- Squat variation and Row variation.
Superset 3- Hinge movement and Upper Body pressing variation.

Day 2

Superset 1- Explosive movement and Core movement.
Superset 2- Weighted Chinup variation and Single Leg movement.
Superset 3- DB Overhead variation (if shoulders are ok with it) and Leg Curl/Knee Flexion movement.

Day 3

Superset 1- Explosive movement and Core movement.
Superset 2- Deadlift variation and Bodyweight Row Progression (or Row variation).
Superset 3- Anterior Loaded Squat or Single Leg Exercise and Bench Press variation.

Obviously, depending on the time of the year, the sets and reps will change. Your specific goals will also influence this. The exercises are determined by the equipment you have access to. Finally, this is (obviously) an example of a 3 day a week template. I would adjust things for a 2 or 4 day a week program and make other adjustments based on the wrestler’s goals.

12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers

12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers- click here to open.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below or email me at dickie@wrestler-power.com.

And when you’re ready to start working on maximizing your potential be sure to visit my Program Store.

Program Store:

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


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