Conditioning for wrestlers- a necessary evil that we have to talk about.
It’s no secret, in order to maximize your potential as a wrestler, you HAVE to be in shape.
And while I’ve written blog posts before on conditioning for wrestlers (Wrestling Conditioning and How To Maximize Your Conditioning), I understand that these methods are not the easiest to implement. This is especially true in a traditional practice setting.
Additionally, I’m also aware that not everyone has access to Prowlers, Battling Ropes, and a lot of the other specialized equipment.
So in this post I’d like to present some research that I recently came across. The study examined the effects of a sprint conditioning protocol in wrestlers.
…I know, just want you want- more sprints!
About The Conditioning For Wrestlers Study
“The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 4 weeks of a sprint interval training (SIT) program on selected aerobic and anaerobic performance indices, and hormonal and hematological adaptations, when added to the traditional Iranian training of wrestlers in their preseason phase.”
15 male freestyle wrestlers with 6-7 years of experience were selected. 8 of the wrestlers had national ranking and 7 had provincial ranking. They were randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group.
The experimental group who performed the SIT program maximally sprinted for 35 meters. They were then given a 10-second break. 6 total sprints were completed in each set. After each set, they had a 3-minute break. Two SIT workouts were completed each week. The progression of sets were as follows:
Week 1- 3 sets for both SIT sessions were completed.
Week 2- 4 sets each workout was completed.
Week 3- 5 sets completed
Week 4- 6 sets completed
Statistically significant increases in the SIT group were observed in a few areas. First, in VO2 Max (max capacity of a person’s body to transport and utilize oxygen). Second, in peak oxygen pulse (amount of oxygen “consumed” per heart beat). And finally, in time to exhaustion.
“The most important finding of our study was that by adding the SIT protocol over 8 sessions (with a maximum of 4 minutes per session of total exercise) during the preseason conditioning phase was an effective way of enhancing both aerobic and anaerobic performances in trained wrestlers.”
“Considering that such training protocols have a very low volume, wrestlers and their coaches can use this type of training program in the preseason conditioning phase and when wrestlers have to reach several peaks over an annual cycle, particularly when the aim is to increase performance in a limited time period.”
“However, it must be considered that anaerobic types of training are very intensive; thus, the volume of the training should be monitored and increased with caution; otherwise the performance may be reduced. Therefore, the use of a higher number of sprints should be investigated further.”
Implementing This Conditioning For Wrestlers Program
The thing I found best about this study was how easy this type of conditioning is to implement. No special equipment needed, not a long duration, and no having to coordinate between stations with lots of wrestlers.
Just sprint hard, recover quickly, and sprint hard again.
Even if you don’t have a hallway at your school wide enough to accommodate everyone on your team, the total time to do 6 sprints is not very much. So, just run a couple of groups at the end of practice. For example, one group can rest for the 3 minutes while the other sprints.
Additionally, to produce such great results in 8 total sessions over the course of 4-weeks is incredible.
One thing to keep in mind is that this study started 6-weeks and finished 2-weeks before a national level match that all participants were preparing for. So the intensity in the room was obviously picking up and there was a much greater need to work hard. So for the results to be so different is really worth noting.
Regardless though, for a little extra time at the end of practice a couple times a week, isn’t it worth a shot?
Another thing to keep in mind about the format of this sprint training is the total duration (4 weeks).
What’s great about a short duration program is that it can be used a couple times during the year to help peak conditioning for various matches. This may prove better compared to simply building up over the course of a season. This would be especially helpful if there’s a major tournament in the middle of the season.
Why Does This Type Of Conditioning Work?
The findings in another study (A Technical-Tactical Analysis of Freestyle Wrestling) best explain why this style of training develops noticeable improvements in conditioning for wrestlers.
Basically what when down in this study was that all of the matches at the 1987 World Championships and 1988 Olympic Games were videotaped (234 total matches). The matches were contested with two 3-minute periods with a 30-second break between.
Additionally, all of the matches at the 1989 World Championships, European Championships, and World Cup were videotaped (238 matches). These matches followed a one 5-minute period format.
The researcher then did a breakdown of techniques that were scored, when they were scored, etc. And while all that stuff is interesting, the part that really caught my eye was this:
The average number of “high-intensity action sequences” (which I assume means going for a takedown, gut wrench, etc.) for all of the matches was 16.
Additionally, it was determined that the average time of each flurry lasted 3.1 seconds. The flurry was then followed by a less intense period of time averaging 23.6 seconds.
It’s important to note that this study was performed before the push out rule, which I would bet would cut down on the “less intense” period of time.
Regardless, as you can see (and as you may have known) wrestling matches resemble a “burst/rest” pattern. This is why training that resembles this sequence (like the sprint training protocol above) is proven to be so effective at developing specific wrestling conditioning.
Farzad, B., R. Gharakhanlou, H. Agha-Alinejad, D. Curby, M. Bayati, M. Bahraminejad, J. Maestu. Physiological and performance changes from the addition of a sprint interval program to wrestling training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(9), 2392-2399. 2011.
Cipriano, N. A technical-tactical analysis of freestyle wrestling. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 7(3), 133-140. 1993.