“The final aim of sport training is the improvement of sport result, which is expressed by the power output of competition exercise.” -Yuri Verkhoshansky, PhD
To summarize- improving your power output of specific wrestling moves, like shooting a takedown, will help you perform better on the mat.
Alright, so if you’ve read the last 4 posts I’ve written, then you will be all caught up as far as what I’ll be referencing in this post.
If you didn’t, shame on you!
Don’t worry, I’ll link to the posts in certain spots. If you’re interested in the thinking and research behind the ideas covered below, then definitely read them.
And for those of you who aren’t interested in researched-based lifting program for wrestlers, I have great news- I’ve found a helpful video for you:
…I hope that video made you smile. I certainly enjoyed it.
Now, on to 2 of the major exercises I’ve been using with the wrestlers I train for the last year that actually improve your shot speed and power.
Developing Leg Strength
The first thing you should look to do if you want to increase your speed on the mat is to get stronger legs.
Stronger legs will produce more force against the ground (ground reaction force).
A higher ground reaction force has been positively correlated with faster sprinting times.
Read these posts for more info:
Relationship Between Squat Strength and Leg Power
It’s also important to keep in mind that in order to get the best carryover, your training should be “direction specific.”
In the case of shooting a takedown- think of how much force you need to produce horizontally…
So, while the squat is a great exercise for building leg strength, it’s not going to have the carryover of my favorite way for wrestlers to build leg strength:
The above video features a wrestler going into 11th grade. He’s worked with me since he was in 4th grade.
Here’s a video of a linebacker for the New England Patriots.
To say the wrestler pushing 1205 is a freak is an understatement. However, keep in mind that he’s been consistently training with me for over 6 years now.
He’s far from an overnight success. He’s been extremely dedicated and he has worked super hard.
He even came in on crutches after knee surgery a couple years ago and did whatever he could to get stronger.
Needless to say- he knows The Secret to Success.
Developing Leg Power
The next part of the equation is training your legs to produce force quickly.
After all, it does you no good if you can push 1200-pound sled, but you can’t move quickly enough to get in on a deep shot.
According to research I reviewed (Jumps Will Help You Shoot Faster?), concentric power is correlated to acceleration in short distances.
Another name for concentric power is starting strength.
Below are a few quotes on starting strength from Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky’s groundbreaking book, Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches:
Starting strength is defined as “the athlete’s capability to produce rapid increases in force-effort at the start of muscular tension.”
“In explosive movements executed with low resistance (my note- a good way to summarize a leg attack, right?), the Starting Strength is of primary importance.”
So, according to the research in the Jumps post, the quotes above from Dr. Verkhoshansky’s book, and the results I reveal below, explosive concentric exercises will train, and improve your starting strength.
Again, keep in mind that when looking to develop functional strength and speed, it’s best to make your training direction specific.
Therefore, prioritizing horizontal movements should be the focus of your training.
With that, here’s one of the primary jumps I have the wrestlers who follow my programs perform on a regular basis:
Putting It All Together:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s to not over complicate training.
Do I think my training is well thought out?
Is it backed by a lot of research?
You be the judge, but I think I do a pretty good job.
And because there wasn’t research out there looking into shot speed and power, I wanted to start by introducing the exercises I thought would have the best carryover and develop the program from there.
With that said, below are some bits of info on how I’ve programmed the exercises above over the past year.
To see how my research can improve your performance on the mat check out my Program Packages…
The horizontal jump is done for 5-10 sets of 3-5 reps.
The Prowler is done for about 5 sets. I usually have the wrestler work up to 1-2 heavy sets.
Once a plateau starts to occur I usually implement a percentage based system.
The focus during the percentage based weeks is on moving the Prowler as fast as possible.
One important thing to note- we have varying levels of humidity here in Central NY. On very humid/sticky days, expect to take about 100-pounds off of your regular weight.
You’re not getting weaker; it’s just the humidity.
I did some quick testing today with a few guys who’ve been training with me.
They have all trained, on average, 3 times a week for a year.
The first round of testing that I did I only recorded the highest Peak Power and Peak Velocity of the 10 shots.
The first 2 numbers compare the highest peak numbers from today to the numbers from a year ago.
The second 2 numbers compare the averages from today to the peak numbers from about a year ago.
Here is how they’ve adapted to the program.
Comparison of highest Peak Power- +45%
Comparison of highest Peak Velocity- +45%
Comparison of average PP- +28.1%
Comparison of average PV- +32.2%
Comparison of highest Peak Power- +32.3%
Comparison of highest Peak Velocity- +24.4%
Comparison of average PP- +26.1%
Comparison of average PV- +18.6%
Comparison of highest Peak Power- +65%
Comparison of highest Peak Velocity- +51.7%
Comparison of average PP- +47.1%
Comparison of average PV- +35.2%
Here are some quick results from 2 other wrestlers I’ve worked with recently on a short term basis.
The first wrestler has trained under my supervision for about 8 months. He trained with me twice a week.
The second wrestler did one start up session with me. He then lifted on his own following a 6-week personalized program. The program had him training 3 times a week.
After he completed the program he came back for more Tendo testing.
Wrestler 1- Improvements in 8 Months
Comparison of average PP- +24.8%
Comparison of average PV- +23.3%
Wrestler 2- Just 41 Days!
Comparison of average PP- +14.7%
Comparison of average PV- +14.7%
Some Final Quotes About Why Improving Your Shot Speed Is So Important:
“It is generally accepted that for optimum transfer to dynamic movement the characteristics of the resistance training stimulus should be specific to the activity in terms of muscles used, muscle action type, loading characteristics and range of movement.”
“…the increase in an athlete’s sports mastery is strictly correlated to the increase in maximal magnitude of force-effort of key movements, and to the decrease of the time in which the force-effort employed overcomes the external resistance.”
In other words, in order to improve your performance as a wrestler it is paramount that you train your body to produce higher levels of force in key movements (like a leg attack), as well as decrease the amount of time your body needs to produce the force.
Verkhoshansky, Y. Verkhoshansky, N. (2011) Special Strength Training Manual For Coaches. Rome, Italy: Verkhoshansky SSTM.
Sleivert, G., M. Taingahue. The relationship between maximal jump squat power and sprint acceleration in athletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 91, 46-52. 2004.
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GREAT article. The box squat horizontal jump is brilliant, I have something similar that I use but I really like that. I’m glad to see that there are people out there using solid training principles to put a little more science behind the training of wrestlers. If you are open to it I would love to collaborate with to throw ideas back and forth.
Thanks Ross. Yeah, I’m totally interested, let me know what you’re thinking and we can go from there. Thanks for commenting man, talk to you soon,
Sorry Im new to the site. What test did you use to measure peak velocity and peak power?
Hey Adam, I used a Tendo Unit for the testing.
Thank you for the response. I love the content
Awesome article Dickie,
For those that dont have regular access to a prowler would the hip thrust be a good primary exercise to build horizontal leg strengtn? Thanks!
Hey Sean, the Hip Thrust is a great exercise for horizontal hip strength. As far as being a good alternative to a Prowler, I don’t know I’d go that far simply because there’s a lot more total leg drive going on with the Prowler compared to the more “isolated” hip action of the Hip Thrust. If you don’t have access to a Prowler, one great alternative would be to make some kind of dragging sled. Or, have a welder make one for you. Another idea would be to hook bands up and sprint against them. I detail that more in this post- Using Bands To Increase Shot Power. But, if none of those options are available, Hip Thrusts coupled with a Squat variation are a great combination for overall leg and hip strength. Although they’re not as “functional” as training your legs/hips to produce horizontal force, the fact of the matter is a wrestler who Squats and/or Hip Thrusts 400 is going to be able to push a much heavier Prowler than a wrestler who Squats and/or Hip Thrusts 200. Does this make sense?
Yeah that definitely makes sense, I appreciate the response! I actually own a prowler it is just inconvenient to use at times because I have to load it up in the car and drive to a field in order to use it. Also living in Nebraska we get a lot of rain and snow depending on the time of year which further complicates things. Considering you dont think hip thrusts are up to par compared to the prowler in developing functional leg strength for wrestling though I think I will try to incorporate them when I can in my program. Thanks again for your time!
You bet man. Yeah, I totally understand about the convenience factor. Do you have a driveway or a sidewalk you may be able to push it? I’m not a huge believer in having to push it far to get carryover to wrestling simply because the distance you need to cover to finish a shot, even in a worst case scenario, isn’t that far. I’ve never looked it up, but I can’t imagine the diameter of the circle on a wrestling mat is much more than 6-8 yards.
I initially was planning to use it on my driveway, but it was scraping it up so I had to take it elsewhere to use it .