…To the right is a picture of Kyle Dake lifting and carrying a 225-pound keg. This photo was taken back when he was a senior in high school.
Anyway, last week I was challenged more than I have been in a long time. This happened during the design process of a program for Kyle Dake for the World Team Trials.
One of the reasons I found this challenging was simply because of who it was for. I’ve always heard from top strength coaches that working with high level athletes can be very work-intensive and somewhat stressful at times.
It turns out, they weren’t lying!
What makes it so stressful?
When you get to such a high level, success and failure is often determined by very small percentages. In the case of a wrestling match it can oftentimes come down to a takedown. And at the International level, the takedown is scored by the wrestler who happened to be half a step faster.
I am always selective and precise with my exercise, set, and rep scheme progressions with the programs I write. However, this particular program was obviously more of a hair pulling situation.
Additionally, I found it to involve a lot more thinking on my part. This was primarily due to some of the situations that he was looking to improve. Some were strength related, which I’m very confident in developing and programming for. However, a lot were power/speed related which I found to be more challenging.
Don’t get me wrong- developing power and speed in wrestlers isn’t an issue. I’ve done a lot of research on the topic. However, I have a lot more experience improving these qualities in wrestlers who aren’t already super strong.
Due to a lack of lower body strength, weaker wrestlers are unable to produce a lot of force. Regardless of how fast they can produce force, they don’t produce much of it.
Therefore, when looking to develop and maximize speed/power, I first look to develop a wrestler’s ability to produce force.
For instance, in my last post, Maximizing Your Power Output (Without Power Cleans), I detailed Jump Deadlifts and the percentages that have been demonstrated by research to maximize power output.
Based on that post here are examples of two wrestlers:
Wrestler 1 who can Trap Bar Deadlift 100 pounds.
Therefore, the training weight is 40 pounds (based on the 40% found in one of the studies). This is actually 10 pounds less than a standard Trap Bar. But regardless, this wrestler is maximizing their power output at 40 pounds.
Now let’s look at Wrestler 2 who can Trap Bar Deadlift 400 pounds.
This wrestler’s training weight is 160 pounds. This means that this wrestler is explosively moving 160 pounds on a regular basis.
Who do you think has the greater potential to produce more power on the mat?
That’s why I focus on developing force before looking to increase the speed at which it’s executed.
However, in the case of Kyle, who gets commentators to regularly comment about how strong he is, how muscular he looks, etc., special considerations must be made.
…Between seeing the muscularity in his legs and the force he can generate when finishing a takedown and/or mat return, it’s easy to tell that from a strength standpoint, he’s good to go.
So what does that mean in terms of exercise prescription? Specifically, when some of his goals of the program are to improve:
1. “Forward leaning chopping steps (driving through a double leg or a single leg).”
2. “Low to high exploding through and forward (double legs from the knees and low stance).”
Well, let me tell you…