Wrestling Training For In-Season Power Development

An image of Troy Nickerson getting his hand raised by a referee after winning the NCAA wrestling championships.
Remember- ultimately this is what you’re looking to accomplish. Backing off here and there to ensure you’re at your best when the times comes is key.

With the season in full swing wrestling practices have started to increase in intensity and your weight training plan should be changing as well.

While some things should stay fairly similar in an in-season program, there are a couple of changes I think you should make. This is especially true in January.

This next series of posts will detail programming and exercise considerations during the season.

First, I will first go into some of the things to keep in mind when designing an In-Season training program.

Then I’ll introduce a sample week of a program I wrote for a college wrestler that I train via email.

In-Season Wrestling Training Principles

#1 Be Audible Ready

I stole this from Dave Tate of EliteFTS.com a number years ago. He mentioned it at a seminar and I have used this ever since. I have found it extremely applicable when working with In-Season wrestlers.

What does “be audible ready” mean? In a nutshell, it means that you need to be ready to make adjustments to your program based on how you feel.

Maybe the practice you just finished was a lot harder than usual. Obviously this isn’t a good time to be pushing yourself to set new personal records. In fact, this is probably a good way to get hurt.

However, maybe you’re in the weight room on a Sunday and you cruised to an easy tournament victory the day before. Or maybe you had the day off from competition and you feel great. This would be a great time to push yourself a little more, especially if you don’t have any big matches early in the week.

Regardless of what your plan says, you need to be ready to make changes on the fly based on how you feel.

This is primarily why I use percentage ranges in most of the programs I design.

So many things can factor in to your readiness to lift at a high level. These factors include diet, sleep, stress, practice, state of recovery, etc.

For instance, say your program had you set to do 5×5 at 85% (a very hard workload) for squats. However, the night before in practice you had three hard matches and ran sprints and stairs.

I bet that 85% is probably closer to 90% of your max due to a higher level of fatigue.

Ultimately, this could lead to one (or more) of the following:

1. You get through the workout and it’s way tougher than it was supposed to be. This leads to an even higher state of fatigue.

2. You can’t get through the workout and start feeling down on yourself. Your confidence takes a dip and it negatively impacts your performance in an upcoming match.

3. You attempt to get through the workout and end up hurt trying to push through it.

Obviously none of these things are desired outcomes. This is why I am more in support of using percentage ranges.

An image of Dave Tate teaching a woman how to box squat.
Dave Tate teaching the Box Squat.

#2 Focus On Power Development, Strength Maintenance

I’ll be the first to admit, it can be very difficult to increase your strength during the season. The toll practices, matches, and cutting weight takes on your body creates a less than optimal environment for gaining strength.

With as difficult as the season can be, maintaining strength is more than sufficient.

Increasing your focus on maximizing your power during the season will have you shooting faster, moving quicker, and scrambling better.

Ultimately you will win more, and that’s what the end objective is.

To see what developing functional power can do for you on the mat, look at the speed and power of these Division 1 wrestlers at their peak. This is what a calculated and periodized In-Season training program results in:

#3 Decrease The Volume

Decreasing the total training volume (number of sets, reps, and exercises you perform) is a must for In-Season lifting. The purpose is to reduce wear and tear on the body while still getting an adequate training stimulus.

In the program that I detail below, I keep the volume pretty high for this wrestler until after Christmas break.

He expressed interest in trying to maintain and maybe even put on a little bit of muscle during the first part of the season. I thought this wasn’t out of the question. However, once the second half of the season kicked off with double and triple sessions, I knew it’d be time to cut the volume.

So to help him get the most out of training, I included a higher volume program that begins to taper over the last 4 weeks.

Because lowering the volume is individually specific, you’re going to want to start experimenting with your program by cutting 2-3 sets. Ultimately you want to find the right balance that allows you to do the following:

1. Maintain your strength.

2. Increase your power.

3. Get the most positive impact on your performance (get the most “bang for your buck”).

Ultimately, those are the 3 big principles I like to follow when designing in-season wrestling training programs.

Keep your training simple, follow these 3 principles, make adjustments as you need, and you should be primed and ready to win some big matches at the end of the season!

Sample In-Season Training Program

Below is the first week of the 8-week in-season plan I put together 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)

Day 2

a. Kneeling SL Lateral Jump (4×3)
a. Rotational Cable Lift (4×6)
a. Plyo Pull-up (4×3)
b. Hang Clean (4×4)
b. Wtd Spread Eagle Situp (4×8)
c. Pin Press (4×5)
c. Wtd Pullup (4×5)

Day 3

a. Box Squat Horizontal Jump (4×4)
a. MB Slam (4×5)
a. SL Bench Jump (4×4)
b. DB Jerk (4×4)
b. Hanging Leg Raise (4×10)
c. Dr. Mike DB Bench (4×8)
c. Pause DB Row (4×10)
c. DB Step Up (4×8)

Because I’ve detailed all of the power exercises in my new Explosive Power Training For Wrestling eBook, I won’t be covering them in this series of posts.

However, I will go into some of the other exercises that I have in the program that may not be familiar with.

So be sure to check out the next post in this series. I’ll detail the benefits of the Zercher Squat and a couple of the other variations I like to work in.

On another note, as I’ve mentioned above, I have finished my eBook Explosive Power Training For Wrestling in which I detail over 70 exercises that I implement both in my own program and also in the programs of the wrestlers that I train both at my gym and online.

Check it out as part of the Bronze Training Package or Silver Training Package.

This style of training has been the ultimate complement to the strength training that I’ve been using with the wrestlers I’ve trained for more than 10 years. It has produced unbelievably fast and powerful wrestlers.

Anyway, be sure to check out the next post in this series by Zercher Lifts 1.

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.


2 Comments. Leave new

  • Dickie, I really appreciate the paragraphs on the clean and jerk movements in your new explosive training program. Right now, I clean and jerk about 180 with half decent technique. I think better technique and working some of the accessory lifts you mention will really help me out. Good stuff!

  • Thanks Eric, glad this post gave you some helpful ideas. Keep me posted with how your Clean and Jerk comes along.


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