Exercises To Finish Single Legs Part 1

A picture of a wrestler on a high single leg on another.

Have you ever been in a match and found yourself in the same (or similar) position in the picture to your right?

If so, did you finish the takedown, or was your opponent able to effectively defend and not give up the 2 points?

Well, if you’ve ever been in a single leg situation and have failed to score, I have great news!

I have a couple of weight room solutions that will help increase your odds of success.

Exercise Solution 1- Horizontal Back Extension with MR

The first exercise I’d suggest is a new one I’ve been experimenting with- the Horizontal Back Extension with Manual Resistance.

I’ve already written about how different back extension exercises may benefit you in different situations on the mat, so I won’t get into that today.

I’ve also written about Manual Resistance before.

But for whatever reason, the combination of the two never occurred to me until recently.

Here’s a quick video of the exercise:

You can add/subtract the resistance you’re providing based on partner feedback. I just wanted to show you how the exercise is executed.

Anyway, I like this exercise for 2 reasons.

1. The resistance being applied is placed on the shoulders and neck. These are two common places for an opponent to put pressure when defending a single leg.

Additionally, the fact that the resistance is actually coming from someone’s hands increases the specificity. Therefore, there’s a higher likelihood of a positive carryover to an improved performance.

2. The peak torque occurs at the hips during the top portion of the exercise.

A picture of a wrestler on a high single leg on another.

It’s better to use a 45-degree Back Extension to develop strength in the position above.

But, the Horizontal Back Extension will have a better carryover when looking to finish like Mr. Dake is below.

Developing strength here will decrease the likelihood of you losing your control (and points) once you get your opponent into the air.

Kyle Dake lifting an opponent from Iran in a single leg.

…By the way, Kyle lifted me like this, only with a body lock, this weekend at the NYS Championships. My goodness did he feel strong.

As far as how to apply the manual resistance, I suggest that if you’re in season, you only apply it during the concentric portion (as I show in the video).

This will develop the strength necessary to succeed in this situation without overloading the eccentric (which will lead to increased soreness).

Exercise Solution 2- Cable Lift

The second exercise you should consider working in to your strength training program is a cable lift.

Sorry, I just don’t have the brain power today to come up with a super flashy name.

Here’s a video to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

As you can see there is a pretty direct transfer from this exercise to the single leg situation introduced above.

While you can grab on to a cable handle, I prefer to use something that you can wrap your arms around to better simulate the single leg.

I’m using a Hanging Ab strap.

The Final Piece Of The Puzzle

One of the things I’m starting to realize more and more in my research on shot speed and power is the importance of movement speed.

Throughout college and in a lot of the books I have read since then, I have been exposed to a number of “rules” on how to increase the transfer of exercise to a sporting movement.

More and more, movement speed is becoming an important key to success based on what I’ve learned so far in my research.

With that being said, I always consider this: who has the greater potential to lift a 150 pound opponent in a single leg- someone who can deadlift 500 pounds or someone who can deadlift 200 pounds?

Obviously you have to be strong. That has been and will always be a key component to any of my programs.

However, like I mentioned above, the speed at which you execute your lifts should also be a focus. This is especially important at the end of the year when you’re looking to maximize your transfer of training.

So, here’s what I’d do as a performance coach for wrestlers.

Look at the time needed to finish the takedown and try to select weights that allow you to move at that speed. For example…

…sorry, but that never gets old.

Obviously this is a unique situation due to the clinch. However, I’m sure that you’ll discover that once you initiate the lift to finish the takedown, the time is minimal. This would lead me to favor using weights that are challenging, but still allow the lifter to execute them with speed.


I hope this breakdown gives you a better idea on what you could be doing to improve your chances of scoring in a single leg situation. I also hope it provides you with some examples as to how I think and evaluate specific positions in wrestling.

If you have any questions on this position, or other strength training questions, please leave me a comment below.

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.


3 Comments. Leave new

  • For the horizontal back extensions, can we use a resistance band tied to floor(like a weight) and wrapped around the top of shoulders to create the same effect as manual resistance

    • Hey Oliver,

      Yeah that totally works. In fact, that’s exactly what I was having the guys I work with do throughout the season. I just started playing around the addition of MR in the last week or two.

      How’s training going and what’s next competition-wise for you?

      • Training going well, I partially tore my mcl last week, so giving that some time to heal. Depending on knee I will head up to Mohawk vally for their tournament, in preparation for nationals in Vegas. I did a Muay Thai smoker back in late January. Was awesome and a different kinda of stage.


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