This post is part 2 of a series in which I cover some of the most pertinent ideas that I found while reading a journal paper.
Here are some of the most relevant power training suggestions:
The authors begin by stating that each wrestler may have a different match plan, and that match plans may oftentimes change depending on the opponent. Regardless though, whole body strength and power are important physical characteristics for all wrestlers to have.
They cite specific situations including when a wrestler is unable to mat return his opponent or finish a takedown due to a lack of explosive hip/leg power.
These two situations require a wrestler to drive their hips horizontally to finish the mat return or takedown (in this case, a leg attack that a wrestler stands up with).
As a result, the authors suggest Olympic-style lifting as well as lower body strength exercises to improve performance in these situations.
Here are a few exercises they recommend for these two situations:
2- Split Squats.
3- Side Squats.
5- Squat jumps.
6- Power cleans.
7- Hang cleans from the knees.
8- Hang cleans from the thighs.
9- One-handed dumbbell cleans.
10- One-legged dumbbell cleans.
The authors suggest following a periodization model for progression.
The focus, as with anything, should be centered on compound, multi-joint exercises. However, the focus for power training is on moving the resistance as quickly and explosively as possible.
Reps per set should range between 1 and 6 (typically 3-4 reps/set). If you’re using strength training movements use loads between 30 and 40%. For inherently explosive lifts use between 60-85% the authors say. For info on why they suggest this read Maximizing Your Power Output (Without Power Cleans).
To ensure recovery, rest should be 3 or more minutes. This will allow for a quality effort on each set.
Another way to develop and maximize power in wrestlers is the implementation of plyometric drills. Keep in mind that with any exercise aimed at increasing power, quality of effort is the most important aspect. If you feel your speed and power output decrease, then simply cut back on the reps and/or add rest time between sets.
The authors recommend to carefully plan higher rep work (with plyometrics and other explosive exercises) for only when power endurance is the focus of training.
The authors also mention the management of volume to control hypertrophy (muscle growth). Obviously, gaining weight, especially during the season is low on the “things to do” list for wrestlers.
The authors suggest that wrestlers in their freshman and sophomore years may “adversely affect their growth patterns at a time when puberty is just beginning.” By the way, a study I highlight in this post shows this isn’t the case.
This could be further affected with a restricted/low calorie diet couple with strength training. Ultimately this combination could lead to muscle breakdown rather than muscle synthesis.
Because of these reasons, it is suggested by the authors that the coaching staff determine an ideal wrestling weight for the individual rather than having the wrestler make the lowest possible weight he/she is able to get to.
While I think it’s a good idea for a team of individuals to determine a weight class for a wrestler, in many ways, the certification process is what ultimately decides that.
Kraemer, W., J. Vescovi, P. Dixon. The physiological basis of wrestling: implications for conditioning programs. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 26(2), 10-15. April 2004.
Implications for Conditioning Programs Part 1– detailing circuit training to increase a wrestler’s ability to handle lactic-acid buildup.
Implications for Conditioning Programs Part 3– detailing the authors’ suggestions on how to implement strength training for wrestling.