W.I.N.: What’s Important Now? — Heavy Lifts or Body Building

Updated: April 19, 2012

By Jon McGovern

Strength training comes from “intensity” in the weight room. You must lift heavy weight with intensity to increase strength. To increase muscle size and volume is more like body building and can involve less intensity and more reps.

There is a time and place for each. Sometimes I let wrestlers use the body-building phase when recovering from injuries or at certain points in the season (for example, two weeks immediately after the post season).

The strength program should be used to decrease injuries and increase performance.

April is a great month to address any injury rehab programs with your athletic trainer and wrestlers, and that everyone is aware of special lifts which be necessary to use around an injury.

Wrestlers who are injured should still be doing something to improve. For example, if their knee is injured, they can work upper body. This is as important physically to continue to improve as it is mentally.

Wrestlers who are training year round often have more confidence when the season comes to attack their goals as opposed to “hoping” things come together.

This mentality also helps them prepare for the mental toughness needed in season to train through adversity and pain.

Some programs use volume training with light weight to allow wrestlers coming off an injury to transition their bodies with body-weight training for a few weeks and then gradually increase more strength training.  That is more individualized to the wrestler and program needs.

For most programs and wrestlers, depending on the freestyle competitions you have on your schedule that you are peaking for (individual state for FS/Greco, team duals and Fargo nationals), your high school and college wrestlers could be lifting three to four times per week between April and August, which is the foundation of your strength training year calendar.

There can be strength-training tests in the calendar to mark improvements as well as to measure later in the season (Feb/March) to see if wrestlers have maintained strength gains.

Make sure your team’s focus is more on strength gains than weight cutting. That is one factor that can have an adverse impact on strength gains. Have each wrestler set goals for their test records in August.

For the month of April — keep the intensity up.

(For additional strength-training plans, check out