Wrestling: Top 5 Strength Training Mistakes Made By Wrestlers

1. Strictly Training The Mirror Muscles
All too often wrestlers come to me with big chests, shoulders, biceps, and six pack abs. With such an impressive figure you’d expect them to be strong, but I couldn’t tell you how many wrestlers come to me that can’t perform more than a couple chinups. Wrestling is often said to be a sport of pulling, wouldn’t it make sense to develop the pulling muscles? Similarly, almost every wrestler that comes to train with me has weak hamstrings and glutes. These muscles are responsible for hip extension and are therefore hugely important in sprawling, lifting an opponent, finishing shots, throwing your opponent, and shooting on an opponent’s legs. A lot of the underdevelopment of the hamstrings and glutes isn’t always the fault of the wrestler; there aren’t a lot of known options other than the hamstring curl.

2. Lifting The Same Weights
Wrestlers always come to me and tell me they want to get stronger. When I ask them if they’ve been lifting, almost all of them say yes. During our first couple of workouts I’ll usually sit back a little and watch their level of intensity, technique, etc. One of the most common things I find is that when I tell them to do an exercise for say, 4 sets of 8 reps, they’ll lift the same weight for each set. When they start to go for the same weight that they did easily for the first set I go up to them and ask “Are you satisfied with your current strength level?” They will always respond with a no which leads me to follow with “Then why are you lifting the same weights that have given you your current level of strength?!”

3. Performing The Same Exercises
This is one of the biggest problems I find not only with wrestlers, but with most everyone. Your body adapts to exercises!! If you were to perform the same move over and over again with the same setup and the same finish you wouldn’t have much of an arsenal would you? Similarly, your progress of understanding the move would plateau after a while. But when you start adding different setups, finishes, and angles to the same takedown you become a much more dangerous wrestler. The same happens in the weight room, most commonly with the bench press. How many wrestlers do you know that bench almost every time they go into the weight room? The first few weeks, or maybe even months, they make somewhat consistent gains right? But after their body adapts to the stimulus their bench stops going up. This is exactly when you need to introduce different variations, but no one seems to want to, they want to stick with their routine because “it’s worked in the past” or “this bodybuilder wrote in a magazine that this was the way to get full pec development” or something along those lines.

4. Not Recording Your Progress
This is another huge mistake I see far too often. How do you know if you’re getting stronger if you don’t know what you were lifting a month ago??? How do you know what your maxes (both low and high rep) are for your various exercises? How do you know what exercises you were doing a few weeks ago so you don’t continue to do the same things week in and week out? Keeping track of your progress not only lets you know where you were, but also, what exercises and reps you did to get where you are. It also give you goals to shoot for every workout whether it be a 1 rep max, an 8 rep max, or a timed set.

5. Taking Advice From People Who Aren’t Qualified
To Give It Odds are you would take wrestling advice of someone like Dan Gable or Cael Sanderson into far more consideration than you would the advice of someone who has never had a winning record or coached successful wrestlers. Likewise, I would like to suggest you listen with a critical ear to someone preaching on how to become stronger for wrestling when they look like someone who has never touched a weight in their life or has never wrestled either.

About the Author

Dickie White is the founder of Shamrock Strength and Conditioning, the nation’s top systems for training champion wrestlers. Dickie is a 2006 graduate of the Ithaca College Clinical Exercise Science program and holds a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). For more information on how you can improve your performance on the mat visit http://www.wrestlerstrength.com/.