Biggest Factors In Female Wrestler Success

A picture of 2 female wrestlers, probably in high school, wrestling. One is on top of the other and is working a tilt in an effort to get back points.

This post, in a way, is an offshoot from my last post (What Sets Top Wrestlers Apart From Everyone Else?).

The study I’ll be reviewing today was performed by many of the same researchers the year after publishing their findings on the 92 male wrestlers.

This time, the researchers elected to put 35 female wrestlers through the same testing to see what similarities and differences existed between elite and amateur level wrestlers.

Study Intro:

The subject pool consisted of 35 female wrestlers (all freestyle, since that’s only style contested by females at the International level).

The wrestlers were divided into 2 weight groups.

Light weights were between 49 and 58 kilograms (107.8 and 127.6 pounds).

There were 18 total light weights. 6 were elite and 12 were amateur.

Middle weights were between 58 and 67 kilograms (127.6 and 147.4 pounds).

There were 17 total middle weights. 7 were elite and 10 were amateur.

They were also divided into elite and amateur categories.

Elite females either had at least one experience in an international FILA tournament such as the European and World Championships or, they had at least 4 years of regular training experience.

8 of the 13 elite females had won at least 1 medal during an International tournament.

Amateur females had not yet taken part in an International competition. However, they had been a finalist at their respective national championship the previous season.

Again, just like in the last study, the difference between “amateur” and “elite” level wrestlers isn’t that much, in my opinion.

Other Relevant Info:

This study was also conducted during an International training camp during the pre-competition cycle. Basically, while the wrestlers were training, it was more in a base building style, rather than an intense phase that’s usually toward the end of a training camp.

The wrestlers averaged 6.8 training sessions a week. 68% of sessions were wrestling-specific training. 16% of workouts were endurance focused. 16% of workouts focused on strength training.

None of the wrestlers were involved in any kind of weight cutting at the time.

All of the wrestlers followed the same eating plan during the 3 days of testing.

None of the wrestlers increased or decreased their body weight by more than 1% during the testing period.

The Results:

Power

Elite women had higher average and peak power ranging from 17.3% to 23.0%.

When data was normalized for to account for differences in body mass, muscle, etc. there were no significant differences detected between elite groups.

However, the elite groups still were between 17.8% and 22.3% better than the amateurs.

Blood Lactate

Peak lactate was between 13-19% higher in elite females, however, this was found to not be significantly different.

Fatigue Index

No significant differences were measured.

10 Meter Sprint

No significant differences were found in this test.

In fact, both the light weight elites and middle weight elites were, on average 1.5% to 2.5% slower when compared to amateurs.

Jumping

There was an insignificant difference between elites and amateurs in the light weight class (2.2%).

In the middle weight class, there was a significant difference (9.4%) between the elites and amateurs.

Additionally, middle weight elites were significantly more powerful than light weight elites.

Strength

Both absolute and adjusted 1 rep max strength in the squat and bench press were both significantly greater in the elite groups. The range was between 13.4% and 33.1%.

No significant difference was observed in the elite groups when the data was adjusted to account for differences in body mass.

Additionally, power output in both strength tests ranged from 15.9% to 34.4% higher in elite wrestlers.

Grip

The differences were significant across the board.

The light weight elites were 12.9% better with their dominant hand and 12.6% better with their non-dominant hand.

The middle weight elites were 5.2% stronger with their dominant hand and 10.3% better with their non-dominant hand.

Back Strength

This test also produced significant differences.

The elite light weights were 13.2% stronger than amateurs.

The elite middle weights were 10.3% stronger.

When the data was normalized for body mass, there were no significant differences between the elite groups.

Unfortunately, no statements were made regarding elite vs. amateur performance after the data was normalized.

Flexibility

In the sit and reach test, the elite light weights were 10.9% more flexible, however, the elite middle weights scored 15.8% lower than their amateur counterparts.

The straight leg raise of the dominant leg was as follows:

Elite light weights scored .8% better than amateurs.

Elite middle weights scored -11.7% than the amateurs.

The straight leg raise of the non-dominant leg results were:

Elite light weights scored 4.1% better.

Elite middle weights scored -2.7% worse.

Training Experience

Both elite groups were significantly older, had more training experience.

Elite light weights were 8% older and had 29% more experience.

Elite middle weights were 10% older and had 27% more experience.

Fat Free Mass

Both elite groups had significantly more fat free mass. However, no significant differences were found between groups for height, weight, and body fat.

This suggests that the elite wrestlers carried around more muscle.

**By the way, the various tests for conclusions above were all the same as in this post.

Conclusions:

According to the researchers, the results suggest the most important qualities to develop in female wrestlers are power and anaerobic capacity.

Additionally, training experience was identified as one of the most critical success factors.

The least important qualities in female wrestling are hamstring flexibility and sprinting ability.

“Elite female wrestlers are characterized as older, with more training background, fat free mass, absolute and normalized maximum muscle strength and power output, Wingate peak and mean power, and lower percent body fat values compared with amateur wrestlers.”

Differences Between Males and Females:

Power- Elite women 42.5% lower for average power and 45% lower for peak power.

Blood Lactate- Elite women were 29.1% lower.

Fatigue Index- Elite women were 17.3% lower.

10 Meter Sprint- Elite women were 14% slower.

Jumping- Elite women jumped 29.8% lower.

Strength- Elite women squatted 35.6% less and benched 34.8% less.

Grip- Elite women scored 35.3% lower.

Back Strength- Elite women scored 16.4% lower.

Flexibility- Elite women were 13.2% higher in the sit and reach. They were also 7.6% more flexible in both single leg raise tests.

Fat Free Mass- Elite women were 2.5% lower. They also had, on average 14.9% more body fat.

All data was normalized for body mass, etc. before the researchers arrived at these numbers.

My quick conclusion- based on this info, to all you ladies out there who wrestle against guys, you’re my new heroes!

Study Referenced

Garcia-Pallares, J., J. Lopez-Gullon, M. Torres-Bonete, M. Izquierdo. Physical fitness factors to predict female Olympic wrestling performance and sex differences. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 26(3), 794-803. 2012.

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

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

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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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