Being in superior condition to your opponent can be a huge asset. Just like having superior strength, a better conditioned wrestler has a distinct advantage. This becomes even more important in the hard fought matches that produce championships at the end of the year.
All wrestlers, regardless of current ability level, are training to win the close tough match; matches that are usually settled in the 3rd period by a few points or less. Whether you are one of the top wrestlers contending for county, state or even national championships or a less skilled wrestler battling for every win.
As the season wears on, sooner or later, you will find yourself in one of these battles. Every point is a hard fought war of it’s own. You must summon all of your abilities in order to earn a victory. This is what you train for. These are the matches that mean the most.
The chances are that you will lose this type of match without being in TOP PHYSICAL CONDITION. It is the great EQUALIZER that you will see in almost all matches and tournaments; a more skilled technical wrestler losing the lead (and eventually the match) to a tougher better conditioned wrestler as the fight wears on.
The old saying, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all”, comes to mind. As it is well known that when the athlete begins to “GAS”, his performance level begins to fade. Once he reaches that so called “WALL” and becomes totally spent, his abilities are just a fraction of what they where when the match started.
It is here that he starts to make mistakes he would not usually make. The doubts that he can win the match begin to take over. His mental toughness that keeps him fighting is challenged to the extreme as his muscles and lungs are burning.
Suddenly giving up that takedown becomes easier. Fighting the pain of the pinning combination that is cranking your body to it’s back is not as important as it once was. Maybe giving up the 6 points might not be so bad after all?
The good news is that ALL wrestlers regardless of ability level can get into top condition. There is no excuse short of toughness and desire, for losing matches do to poor conditioning. What is interesting also is how it all goes hand in hand.
As your conditioning level begins to rise so does your physical and mental toughness. You begin to see a transition in yourself (or for coaches, parents, fans, in the wrestler) that increases the desire to win. A snowball effect takes place as you push yourself to the limits at each and every practice.
What once was a fun little hobby, turns into an obsession. You start to turn into a true WARRIOR that you must be if you want to be a winning wrestler. Everything revolves around becoming a better wrestler. Basically, THE HARDER YOU PUSH YOURSELF-THE HARDER IT IS TO QUIT!
In this article, I will give you some ideas that may help you become a better conditioned wrestler. We will talk about several different types of CARDIO TRAINING and different ways to incorporate them into your practices.
The first one is known as STEADY – STATE, or SUSTAINED CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE, to be more specific. The goal here is to”attain, maintain and sustain ” an increased heart rate while moving alone at a STEADY pace. For the wrestler, this is usually done when you go out for your runs.
The goal of this type of training is to establish AEROBIC EFFICIENCY. This kind of activity requires oxygen for the muscles to contract. The greater your bodies lung capacity is, the more oxygen you can get to your muscles. Think of marathon runners who seem to be able to run all day and never tire.
Training this way successfully requires you to “motor along” operating just below the point where oxygen demand exceeds oxygen intake. In other words, you are NOT going into oxygen debt.
The second type of cardio is INTERVAL TRAINING. Here you will inject various EXTRA or greater efforts into your sustained training. The idea here is by adding more effort through short bursts, you can SPIKE your heart rate upward.
This is usually seen at the end of practice when you jog around the room and then the coaches yell SPRINT. Here you want to create oxygen debt! You want to force you body and mind to cope with and adapt to this type of effort.
The 3rd way called HYBRID is the one most commonly overlooked. This type of training blends cardio with strength training. The thinking here is that you can actually reconfigure your muscles by adding MITOCHONDRIAL DENSITY.
It is my belief that without this type of training added to your program, you can never reach your full potential as far as conditioning is concerned. This may be the answer if you are “working hard” and doing extra runs and workouts but still feel “tired in the third.”
The demand on the body is greatly increased with this type of training. For anyone who wishes to experience the difference, go to the gym and grab some weights. A couple of fifty pound dumbbells would be fine. Walk around, climb some stairs if you can and you will now know the difference.
There are many different approaches that can be used by various athletes to add this training to their workouts to produce a desired outcome. Bodybuilders, for example, may incorporate extremely high rep sets of 100 or more to create extra density in the muscles.
For the wrestler though, you NEED TO ADD EXTRA RESISTANCE TO YOUR CARDIO TRAINING! Many times you will hear that “the best way to get in shape to wrestle-is to wrestle”. This helps to explain why people may feel that way. Your workout partner provides the ADDED RESISTANCE.
This also may help to explain why an athlete coming from another sport who thought he was in good shape finds out pretty quickly that he is not in wrestling shape.
You see, every move you are trying to hit, your partner is trying to stop. You try and pull his leg in on a single leg shot, and he tries to sprawl back. This is definitely an important part of your training. I also feel that it is important to add other ways to create the same benefits.
Let me give you some ways you can do this. One way is to add “climbing” to your runs. In high school we ran a lot of stairs, college we ran the “rock.” Living on LI you must use what is available. Some on the North Shore may have some decent hills to run. Others can run stairs or bleachers.
Running in sand can be an option if you have access to a beach. The previous mentioned carrying weights is another option. You can use many things for weight. Your partner, for example, can be carried in many different ways. I always picture the IOWA WRESTLERS climbing the stadium stairs with a partner on their back.
One of the things I tell coaches is to “Stop wasting your money on crap and buy some SANDBAGS.” If you make them yourself, they are very inexpensive. You can get a ton of mileage out of them because they have many uses. For this article though you will use them to carry around.
Shoulder it, carry it like a baby, bear hug it etc., and run around while conditioning. Within a few weeks, I think you will see a big difference. Another way to add resistance is to pull or push something. At my gym we have special sleds for this.
You can use many different things though. For instance, when my brother and I were younger we would push or pull each other on our trike. My brother-in-law used to run with an old tire tied around his waste while training in college. You can grab your dad and push the car around a parking lot. Get a few teammates and have some fun with it.
The final piece of the puzzle is ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD TRAINING. By definition, anaerobic means without air. To go into great detail is beyond the scope of this article, but basically the muscles burn glucose in two ways, with (aerobically) or without (anaerobically) air.
This type of training is sometimes called LACTATE THRESHOLD TRAINING. The reason is that lactate blood levels increase faster than they can be cleared. It is most commonly used in Track and Field by sprinters or maybe swimmers who compete in the “short races.”
Where I would incorporate it into a wrestler’s training is when you do SPRINTS. Now I understand that most teams do some type of sprints, but they are usually done in a fashion where ALL OUT can’t be reached.
For example, sprints in the wrestling room are too short because the room is too small. The wrestler sprints and has to slow up before crashing into a wall or to make a turn around the circle.
Another common mistake is NOT allowing enough time to recover. Again, I understand that the wrestler is A MACHINE and doesn’t get tired. In reality, for this type of training, with a TRUE all out effort; time must be given to recover.
So having your team line up at one end of the room and “sprint” to the other, then get set and sprint back and so on and so forth is not what I am talking about here.
Coaches or wrestlers need to find a place to SPRINT. Most likely a long hall way that is clear. In “good” weather, go outside and sprint on the track or football field. I would say you want to sprint beyond 100 yards when in top shape. I would be looking for about 15-20 seconds of ALL OUT effort.
I would set it up to allow the athletes time to recover. This is the ONLY way that they will be able to give another all out effort. Have them walk or slow jog back to the start. Then give them another minute or two to get their heart rate down, then go again!
I would like to finish up with some ideas for coaches or wrestlers when adding these various training methods to your program.
The first point I would like to make here is that Steady State and Interval Training is generally a lot less demanding than Hybrid and Anaerobic. So I would schedule them into practice according to competitions.
For example, you may want to use Steady State the day before a big tournament as it is the least demanding and easiest to recover from. I might use the interval training before dual meets and save the later two for practices where you have a minimum of a day or two to recover.
Another thing to think about is how the conditioning training plays into the practice as a whole. For example, if you do a lot of “live” wrestling during practice, then you most likely would not want to do the Hybrid training at the end.
The reason is the wrestling part of practice should have given the athletes plenty of extra resistance work for that day. So here you could choose another form of conditioning.
Hopefully everyone will have the general idea to mix and match in the appropriate fashion as to give the wrestlers the best workouts you can. As with ALL training build up slowly. Start with short sprints, light weights, shorter duration and work your way up as your condition level increases.
I hope that you all will gain something from this article. I am glad to hear from more and more people who have read and are using the things that I have talked about. I would love to continue to hear from you about my articles.
As always, any questions or comments please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Till next time, GOOD LUCK; Coach Ellinger P.S. Many have requested more info on my gym and training. I will give all the details shortly!