Special Considerations for Designing Programs

A picture of Dickie White and Nate Schiedel posing for a picture. It was taken to show off just how crazy their hair is.

…4x NCAA Qualifier, Nate Schiedel, and I consider our hair to be rather special.

Anyway, I’ve found quite a few papers recently regarding training for wrestling.

The way the papers work are similar to the way I structure my blog posts. The papers reference relevant research and suggest how to apply the findings to wrestling.

As a result, I’ll simply be adding links to relevant blog posts and contributing my own thoughts where I see fit.

Other than that though, I want to quote as much as possible. I hope this gives you some other ideas/opinions on ways to improve your training.

It’s important to remember that I’m not the only source out there. I’m super appreciative of you regularly reading my blog. However, I want to offer you as much as I possibly can on effective ways to improve your performance.


“The sport of wrestling presents several challenge to the strength and conditioning professional, such as bodyweight restriction, concurrent strength and endurance training, specific injury patterns, and unique metabolic demands which can be resolved by designing the resistance-training program to match these requirements. This article offers recommendations for the implementation of an effective resistance-training program for wrestling.”

On Bodyweight

Because of weight-classes, wrestlers typically want to minimize muscle hypertrophy and would rather focus on getting stronger without gaining weight.

However, heavyweights may benefit from putting on muscle. This will help to improve overall body composition. Because of this, increasing in muscle mass coupled with fat loss should be a primary goal of the program.

According to the authors, the best way to make improvements in body composition is through various types of resistance training and metabolic conditioning. Combine this with an appropriate nutritional program. They specifically state that high volume, low intensity (aka long duration) cardio is the best way to go when looking to burn fat.

The authors believe that one of the underlying goals of any wrestler should be to improve force, power, and overall athleticism while maintaining their body weight.

The authors suggest prioritizing body weight exercises like pull-ups, dips, and rope climbing. In addition, they also believe that incorporating partner resisted exercises (various lifts or carries) will also help in increasing relative (body weight) strength.

Additionally, they suggest implementing Olympic style lifts and their variations to improve power output.

On Performance

The authors begin this section by stating that selecting exercises for a sport-specific program should be focused on first matching the recruitment patterns and muscle actions of the sport.

They add that grip strength should be performed in an isometric manner. This will best match how you will be using your hands in a match setting. Exercise specificity will increase the transfer from training to performance.

They go on to suggest that towel, rope work, and manually resisted movements are all great options to help achieve increased grip/hand strength.

On Injury Prevention

The authors also detail the importance of exercise selection when it comes to injury prevention.

The primary areas that are injured in wrestlers include the shoulder, neck, elbow, and knee.

Developing programs aimed at increasing strength and stability around these joints will decrease the likelihood of sustaining an injury.

The authors suggest exercises like the 4-way neck machine, shrug, and shoulder press as top choices for preventing injury to the neck and shoulder.

“Wrestlers should focus on this area during the off-season preparation (anatomical adaptation) phase and may include injury-prevention exercises as assistant movements during the preseason and in-season periods.”

On Core Stability

Core stability is another important aspect when it comes to both performance and injury prevention.

In wrestling, the core (which according to most performance coaches consists of the gluteal muscles, the abdominals, and the low back) is paramount in the proper transfer of forces from the lower extremities to the upper body.

Additionally, like any other part of the body, adequate strength/stability of the core has been shown to reduce the risk of injury, especially to the low back.

“The ability to exert and withstand rotational forces is a key aspect of wrestling success; thus, a resistance-training program should prepare the athlete for this component of the sport.”

Although the core development of a wrestler would not show this, this is an important point worth noting.

On The Training Mode

“Wrestling relies heavily on the ATP and lactic-acid energy systems; therefore, an effective training program should address this specific metabolic demand.”

For ways to improve this be sure to check out my Conditioning Page.

Specific anaerobic conditioning is most commonly used to achieve this. However, resistance training can also help when looking to maximize anaerobic conditioning for wrestling.

The authors suggest implementing explosive weightlifting movements at the end of a practice.

I don’t necessarily agree with this due to an increased risk of injury. But, again, that’s not the objective of this post. I’m simply trying to introduce other information.

They also suggest implementing plyometric exercises for longer durations (30-60 seconds) at the end of a lifting session to help develop power endurance.

The authors also discuss circuit training and how it can improve your performance as a wrestler. For more on how to implement circuit training read- this post.

It’s stated that a circuit training program may increase capillary density. Ultimately, this will enhance your body’s ability to remove metabolic by-products (most notably lactate) from the blood.

Like other researchers and sports scientists, the authors suggest proper work-to-rest ratios that are adjusted and progressed throughout the season. They state that this will help to ensure a peak in conditioning for a specific time(s) of the year.

The authors also suggest combination lifts, or complexes.

According to Javorek, “Combination lifts consist of two or more free weight exercises that are combined in a nonstop, continuous movement.”

On Concurrent Training

A developed and effective aerobic system is equally important. It’s crucial in maximizing oxygen uptake and utilization during breaks (between periods or during injury/blood time).

“The need for concurrent development of strength and aerobic endurance raises the issue of incompatibility of these training modes. It is well established that simultaneous training does not affect the improvement in aerobic endurance whereas strength and power performances are adversely affected by high-intensity aerobic training.”

Therefore, when looking to improve aerobic performance, especially during the season, it’s best to invest your time performing anaerobic-focused circuits. This is shown to be better than long duration aerobic training, which will hinder your ability to simultaneously peak your strength and power.

Paper Referenced

Z. Murlasits. Special considerations for designing wrestling-specific resistance-training programs. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 26(3), 46-50. June 2004.


This paper was pretty self-explanatory and not overly “sciency” so I didn’t think it was necessary to explain a lot of the quotes.

However, if you have any thoughts or questions on some of the various components to successful program design for wrestlers please leave a comment below. Thanks.

Related Posts:

Implications For Conditioning Programs

Wrestling Workout Program Design Tips

The Most Difficult Program I’ve Ever Designed

Wrestling Workout Routine Design Process

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.


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