I recently put together a wrestling workout program for a client that I train via email and wanted to share it with you.
However, this time I had something my wife, Laura, mentioned to me while I was showing her some Jiu-Jitsu techniques the other day.
She said, “You’re a better learner than you are a teacher.”
What she means is that I oftentimes learn how to do things very easily. Unfortunately, as a result I’m unable to effectively communicate exactly what I learned.
Needless to say, it made me stop and think about other places in my life where this may occur.
And of course, the first thing that came to mind was when I design a wrestling workout program.
So today I’m going to take you step-by-step through my wrestling workout program design process. Specifically I’m going to reference a program for a long-time client who just recently moved to college.
For questions on any of the exercises, start by clicking here.
The first thing I do when designing a wrestling workout program is look at the answers to a bunch of questions. The answers will help me to get good idea of how to design the personalized program.
Wrestling Workout Program Questionnaire
1. What does your current wrestling workout program look like (exercises, sets, reps, etc.)?
I ask this so I don’t have the person doing the same type of workouts and exercises they’ve been doing.
2. Do you have any past injuries that may prevent you from doing certain movements?
I ask this so I know what exercises to include and exclude. For instance, I once wrote a wrestling workout program for a college wrestler with fused ankles. This obviously affected what he was able to do from a lower body standpoint.
3. Any likes/dislikes in regards to certain exercises?
I don’t want to put together a program full of exercises they’re not going to want to do.
4. How many days per week do you want to lift (I usually recommend 3)?
Pretty self explanatory here. I just want to be sure I’m working with their schedule.
5. What are the goals/focuses of the wrestling workout program?
This clues me in on types of exercises to use and what total volumes to use.
6. Equipment you have access to?
So I know what exercises are options.
7. Anything else you want to add?
This is a general question for them to add anything that may be helpful in the design process that they may not have mentioned in the other questions.
Anyway, once those questions have been answered I have a good idea of how I want to structure the wrestling workout program.
Once this process starts it’s always individually specific. So, from this point on, I’ll be referring to the experience I had this past weekend designing this particular wrestling workout program.
Designing The Wrestling Workout Program
Because I knew what he had been doing, the only things that really factored in to the program design were the following- equipment, what his other workouts were going to be, days he wanted to lift, and goals.
From email exchanges I learned he had access to pretty standard gym equipment. He didn’t have access to all of the stuff he did at my gym. Fortunately, he still had more than enough to get in an effective lift.
He also told me that the team had running workouts scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The runs were followed by high rep upper body circuits in the weight room.
So we decided on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday wrestling workout program. The program was built around the goal of maintaining strength and increasing power while he got his weight down for certifications.
I decided to make Day 1 a heavy upper day. This would get the strength work for his upper body out of the way before he had to do the high rep conditioning work.
Doing this fresh on a Monday would help him to maintain, and maybe even increase his strength over the next month.
If you’d rather I just design a custom program for you, check out my Personalized Programs page:
Wrestling Workout Program
Superset 1- Pin or Floor Press (5×3) and Weighted Chinup (5×3)
Superset 2- Pause DB Bench (3×6) and Cable Row (3×8)
Triset 1- BB Curl (3×8) and BB Overhead Press (3×8) and DB Shrug (3×10)
Superset 1- Hang Clean (5×2) and Standing Ab Wheel (5×8)
Superset 2- BB Free Squat (5×3) and DB Side Bend (5×10)
Superset 3- Back Extension (3×12) and Decline Situp (3×12)
Superset 1- DB Push Press (5×3) and Hanging Leg Raise (5×8)
Superset 2- Pin Pull (5×3) and Weighted Russian Twist (5×12)
Superset 3- DB Rack Lunge (3×6) and Ball Leg Curl (3×12)
The core bench movement for his program was a choice between a Pin Press or Floor Press working up to heavy triples.
He’s successfully built his bench with the Floor Press before so that’s always a good option. Based on that, I’m going to have him experimenting with low Pin Presses. Both are great to improve low end bench weaknesses (struggle when the bar near the chest). His weak point is very close to his chest, so that’s why these 2 variations are in his wrestling workout program.
The core chinup movement was the standard weighted chinup working up to triples. From what I gathered, he doesn’t currently have access to a lot of the different handles. As a result, he’ll be doing lots of standard weighted chinups, pullups, and alternate grip chinups in the program.
The accessory movements after are designed to help build the core lifts and improve his wrestling performance.
The Pause DB Bench will be a good supplement to attack his low end weakness.
The Cable Row, or any row variation, is a must in any wrestling workout program because the majority of the pulling you do in wrestling is horizontal.
The additional 3 exercises will help him strengthen his secondary movers in the core lifts (ie BB Curls will strengthen the biceps which aid in the chinup).
As you can see by Day 1, everything has a purpose and is all tied in to building the 2 upper body core lifts which are used to measure the overall effectiveness of his program.
By the way, you can download the program if you’d like.
The Day 2 workout is to be performed on a Wednesday. It’s designed taking into account that it would be performed between the two running and high rep upper body lifting workouts.
A Couple Quick Focuses
1. Keeping the total volume on his legs low (15 working reps in the Squat). This would account for any fatigue from the running the day before. Considering he was in pretty good shape when he left, I felt he’d be able to handle this.
2. Staying away from upper body exercises for the time being. Between the heavy work on Monday and the high rep work on Tuesday and Thursday I figured that’s more than enough.
For the first Superset of the day I have him performing Hang Cleans and Standing Ab Wheels. I started him working with Hang Cleans a little before he left for school because his team used them and I wanted him to have the basics mastered before he started.
I prioritized the Hang Cleans over the Squats because of the shift in focus from strength to power as the season grows near.
Additionally, this wrestler is the strongest high school wrestler I’ve ever trained. His strength is close to that of Cody Reed, a 3x D1 NCAA qualifier that I trained for years. Based on that, I figured he’d be strong enough for now and we should focus on his power and speed instead of getting stronger.
The Standing Ab Wheels are a great overall core strengthener. With the increase in core strength he’ll be able to support heavier weights when he squats and deadlifts. Ultimately, this will increase the overall strength and power in his lower body/hips.
With stronger legs and hips he’ll be able to apply more force on the mat.
See what I mean when I say it’s important that everything must have a place in your wrestling workout program?!
The next Superset is Barbell Free Squats and DB Side Bends. We traditionally use a Safety Squat Bar for squats at my gym. However I had him working with a straight bar for a month before he left to get used to it.
The Side Bends work to increase core strength for the same reasons as I mentioned with the Standing Ab Wheel.
The workout for Day 2 finishes up with some additional core work. I let him know that he was to determine the difficulty based on how he felt that day. If he was feeling good, he could add weight to the Back Extensions and Decline Situps. If he wasn’t feeling good, or the other exercises took a lot out of him, then he can just do a few bodyweight sets.
I opted for a few extra sets for the core as opposed to Lunges, DB RDLs, or other lower body exercises that may affect his recovery and/or running performance the next day.
So there you have it, Day 2 of the wrestling workout program and the breakdown of how and why I decided to structure things.
The Day 3 workout is to be performed on a Friday and would be after a weeks worth of training sessions.
As a result, I designed this day to be a low volume day.
Day 3 Focuses:
1. Overall low volume. I know there are 5 working sets listed for the first 2 supersets. But, the DB Push Press is an explosive exercise which I’ve found produces a lot less overall wear and tear compared to a heavy squat or deadlift. Additionally, I told him to keep the Pin Pull light and pull for speed using between 60-70%.
2. Keep the poundages lower.
The first superset on the third day of his wrestling workout program has him performing DB Push Presses working to challenging triples and Hanging Leg Raises.
Again, I prioritized the Push Press at the start of the workout so he would be able to perform them with his best effort. This goes back to the big focus of this block of training- increase his power since his strength is already very high.
The Hanging Leg Raise, while challenging, is a little less demanding because I don’t have him adding any additional resistance. Again, it’s in the program to strengthen his core which will ultimately allow him to improve his Squats, Deadlifts, Cleans, and other power exercises.
Next, I have him perform Pin Pulls and Weighted Russian Twists. I decided to put the deadlift movement at the end of the week because over the summer he deadlifted 510lbs.
Needless to say, I think this is pretty good for a freshman wrestling at 184lbs. So I didn’t think he needed to spend a lot of time on that lift.
I picked Pin Pulls for two reasons. First, the last couple weeks he lifted with me at my gym, he performed deadlifts off the floor, so I wanted to change it up.
Second, he was experiencing lockout issues with the deadlift and the Pin Pulls have helped him in the past.
The same reasoning for the Hanging Leg Raise was applied to the selection of the Weighted Russian Twist.
Finally, this wrestling workout program finishes with 2 lower body exercises. I chose the DB Rack Lunge over a standard Lunge to help cut down on the amount of weight he’d be lifting during each set.
While I think it’s very important for wrestlers to be performing single leg exercises, I wanted him to avoid loading his body too much at the end of a week of intense training sessions.
Carrying the DBs in the rack position will put more of an emphasis on core stability, and will also greatly reduce the weight that he’ll be using to perform each set.
Additionally, the Ball Leg Curl is used for the same reason. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have access to a Glute Ham Raise, which is my first choice for a wrestling workout program.
But I’ve found these to be a decent alternative.
So there you have it- the step-by-step breakdown of how and why I chose to assemble this wrestling workout program the way that I did.
If a Personalized Program isn’t in your current budget, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered…