I’m sometimes critical of various journal articles and the programming suggestions they make.
For an example, read this post.
Anyway, this journal paper was well thought out and substantiated. It makes some great, proven “in the trenches” suggestions on how to condition for wrestling.
It begins by stating that video analysis of matches was used to identify and calculate that, on average, an explosive effort/attack in a match occurred every 6 to 10 seconds.
Because of the frequency, the authors state that both the phosphocreatine and lactic acid systems were primarily responsible for fueling these bursts.
According to the authors (and it makes plenty of sense to me), logic would dictate that a wrestler who is able to meet these explosive demands over the course of a match would have an advantage over one who was unable to do so.
Makes sense, right?
A wrestler who’s in significantly better shape will usually have an advantage.
Anyway, because explosive efforts are what should be reproduced in training, timed Olympic lifts were suggested.
The devised plan had the wrestlers performing one explosive lift every 5 to 10 seconds over the course of 2 to 3 minutes. This would constitute one set.
The sets would be followed by a rest period designed to match the average time between periods in a match.
The weight being used was of high importance during the program design process.
Some things taken into consideration were the complexity of the compound movements being used, the total time under tension, the fact that fatigue would set in over the course of the sets, etc.
Obviously, the last thing on the minds of the coaches was to put too much weight on the bar and have one or more of their wrestlers get injured trying to strain through a highly technical lift. By the way, this is why I tend to favor easier-to-implement exercises like I detail in Maximizing Your Power Output (Without Power Cleans).
The coaches were striving for a cumulative effect from the training, and therefore didn’t want the wrestlers to reach failure too early (or probably at any point, for that matter). They also realized that past research has demonstrated that emphasizing speed over strength development will bring about significant improvements in power development.
Keep in mind that the equation for power is strength / speed.
With all of that considered, the authors agreed on loading between 30-40% for the wrestlers.
By using lower percentages, high levels of speed could be used and greater rates of force development could be achieved. Both of which are important when looking to shoot a successful takedown.
The lower weight also allowed wrestlers to maintain power output throughout without causing a breakdown in technique.
As with any other training program, the authors knew it had to be progressive. This means that you just can’t start a wrestler at the identified peak workload, you have to build up to it.
By following a progressive and periodized workload you minimize the risk of injury and increase adherence (the wrestler doesn’t get discouraged after barely surviving the first workout). As a result, the wrestler becomes capable of higher performances.
The program was used twice per week leading up until the regional tournament. After that, it was dropped to once per week.
The once per week schedule was used during the 3 weeks at the end of the season consisting of the regional, district, and state tournaments.
In regards to decreasing the workload during this 3-week period, the coaches stated- “Our primary goal was to maintain power and anaerobic endurance at this critical stage of the competition season.”
Before starting the power-endurance training program, the coaches had their team warm-up with Javorek Complex 1.
The wrestlers used a 30- or 45-pound bar and performed 3 to 5 reps of each exercise in the complex.
This warm-up fit the principle of specificity. It therefore optimally prepared the wrestlers for the complex, full-body explosive lifting sequence that followed.
Conclusions of Coaches
“Since implementing this in-season program, we have enjoyed considerable success in maintaining our athletes’ power production capabilities and anaerobic endurance throughout the entirety of the competitive season.”
“While the timed lifts are very taxing they can be an effective way to accomplish your in-season conditioning needs.”
“With proper progression, hands-on instruction and monitoring of the athlete’s performance and responses, the program can be safe as well as successful.”
Lensky, R. Wrestling and olympic-style lifts: in-season maintenance of power and anaerobic endurance. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 21(3), 21-27. June 1999.