Wrestling Training- Day 1 Lifts

An image of a woman performing a Kettlebell windmill. She's at the bottom of the exercise with her left hand touching the ground.

This is the next post in the Wrestling Training series.

For the original post check out Wrestling Training- In-Season Power Development.

Below is Day 1 from an early In-Season program I recently designed for one of the college wrestlers I train via email.

Day 1:

a. Kneeling Jump (4×4)
a. Speed Russian Twist (4×12)
a. Plyo Pushup (4×4)
b. Zercher Squat (4×6)
b. DB Windmill (4×8)
c. DB RDL (4×8)
c. Feet Elevated DB Pushup (3x AMAP)
c. Pullup (3x AMAP)

Today I will detail the Windmill. While this was first introduced to me as a Kettlebell exercise, a lot of wrestlers that I train do not have access to KBs. Unlike some Kettlebell exercises that should only be performed with Kettlebells (the Swing), a dumbbell works just fine here.

Below is a video of me performing a Windmill with a Kettlebell. I hold the DB the same way I do the KB.

The Windmill is a great exercise for a lot of reasons.

First, it builds flexibility through the hips and hamstrings. These are two important areas to keep as flexible and mobile as possible.

Second, it develops great core stability. Training your core to brace and stabilize in less than optimal positions will help keep your back protected.

Finally, the Windmill also improves your shoulder mobility and stability. This will help keep your shoulders as healthy as possible throughout the season.

All-in-all you get a lot of bang for your buck with the Windmill.

An image of a man performing a DB windmill on the grass in front of a brick building.

The above picture is a nice shot of a Windmill performed with a dumbbell.

Windmill Technique

As far as technique goes, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First- always keep your eye on the Kettlebell or Dumbbell.

This will help to optimize your stability and minimize any mishaps from occurring. It seems ridiculous, but it really works.

Next, keep your legs as straight as possible. Optimally, you’ll want to keep them locked and work within the range of motion that your flexibility will allow.

Some people may have trouble keeping their legs locked. If this is the case, a slight bend is alright. Just make sure you don’t turn it into a squat.

Instead focus on driving your hips back like you would for a Romanian Deadlift.

Additionally, always perform this exercise with a controlled eccentric (the lowering portion of an exercise).

This will help to get a good stretch on your hamstrings. It will also help to minimize the risk of something going wrong with the weight over your head/body. I always err on the side of caution when a weight is over my head.

Finally, you can control the level of difficulty of the Windmill by increasing/decreasing your range of motion (ROM). If you notice your flexibility is preventing you from achieving a full ROM, use something as a target.

This could be another dumbbell, Medicine Ball, or whatever. Place it on the inside of your lead leg and use that as a target to touch your fingers to.

Once you can reach that object comfortably, start using something that is closer to the ground. Keep working like this until you can touch your fingertips to the ground.

On the opposite side of the coin, if you’re able to easily touch your fingers to the ground, try making a fist and touching your knuckles. Once you’re able to do that consistently start working on touching your palm or the back of your hand.

If you can do that comfortably start putting a 25lb plate under each foot.

You can also reach for your back leg.

As you can see there are a lot of small tweaks you can use to adjust to your level of flexibility.

To read the next post in this series- Day 1 Lifts Continued.

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.


4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Dickie! I’m a long time fan. I’ve been training my brother for wrestling ( 2 time D1 section 4 champion) and would love to your input on some exercises that are a must for a wrestler trying to break through at states. Hope to hear from you!

    • Hey Sam,

      I think the biggest thing to consider here is what he’s looking to improve. You can’t go wrong with building a better strength base. For that I’m a big proponent of box squats, deadlifts, sled pushes/drags, presses (I like db and bb floor presses primarily), weighted chinups, and rows. The biggest thing I’ve really gotten away from is a lot of variety. Instead, I just hammer a few basic movements and have guys get more volume in with those. It’s not sexy or flashy, but it works, and it’s a lot more predictable than my past programming. Once a solid strength base is built, work to transfer that to power and speed can be done. This would be a big focus during the season. But for now, being the off-season, I would hammer the basics with 15-25 reps with a working weight.

      Does this help? Is there something more specific you’re looking for? If so, let me know and I can direct you to some posts on certain exercises, or if you want, try the search function and let me know what you think of it.

      Thanks for the comment man. Talk to you soon.

      • Dickie,
        Thank you for the response. That helps me so much. I’m an avid reader and love learning new ideas, but that coming from you (being such an expert) really puts training in perspective. I have them on all those excercises now, changing the rep scheme and secondary movements (one-two basic after we hit primary just to add a little volume) and I’ve seen great strength growth and muscle. You are working with some wrestling buddy’s of mine now and they have nothing but great words about your program! Great to see you contributing to the sport and really reaching out and helping us. Hope to hear from you soon, I would love to brush up on some rep ranges that are beneficial to power/speed for wrestling. Thanks again,

        • Hey Sam,

          As far as rep ranges, I typically keep things in the 3-5 range. But the biggest thing you have to consider is the purpose of the exercise. In this case, you’re looking to develop/maximize power and speed. So, the exercise must be inherently fast and powerful. Once a decrease in performance is identified (through feedback of the lifter, what is noticed by coaches/training partners, or a digital readout from a Tendo Unit or other device), it’s time to pull the plug. So, if that means the set calls for a set of 5, but on rep 4 there is feedback of some kind that would indicate there is a loss in speed/power, stop the set.

          While rep ranges and being focused on quality are important, an often overlooked component is rest time. Various jumps and other explosive movements aren’t as muscularly demanding as say, a balls to the wall set of 20 in a squat, and because they’re not as demanding from a cardiovascular standpoint as say a bunch of Prowler sprints. Couple that with in shape, work hungry wrestlers, and a problem may develop. The “problem” is a desire to get to your next set very shortly after your last (because there isn’t nearly the fatigue factor as the 2 earlier examples). So, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the rest time and track and compare that to the quality of effort in the jumps and other explosive exercises. If there is a sharp decrease in performance between sets, rest time is more than likely the cause of it.

          Hope this helps man. Talk to you soon.


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