The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
Goodpaster: Bodyweight training is very practical and combats fatigue
By Scott Goodpaster
Since 2007, Cincinnati Functional Fitness has developed many effective and popular exercises that we use to train our team of wrestlers on the mat during pre and in-season. Most of the exercises were introduced to me by my mentor JC Santana while obtaining my internship back in 2002.
Our philosophy is designed for the wrestling coach or strength coach who has to train an entire wrestling team with limited space, time, resources and equipment and has intense training needs. Most high school coaches are in this position.
In 2007, I was in a position where I had to train 80 wrestlers. I had nothing but bodies and space. I developed a 17-week program involving bodyweight exercises using each other as implements and as an external mode of resistance.
When you think of bodyweight exercises you think of push-ups, crunches and lunges. This program goes way beyond that. The power and diversity of this program makes it fun but very demanding. Former Moeller head wrestling coach Jeff Gaier gave me 30-40 minutes, two days per week to get the team strong and ready to wrestle. I was excited to make an impact.
Because of administration concerns, I had to condition the Moeller wrestling team before practice. This goes against what we do now days where we try and teach technique when our wrestlers are neuromuscular fresh. What we found is the wrestlers were then able to listen and pay attention in a tired state at practice much like their entire season.
They are tired when they’re learning and they’re tired when they’re executing. If you are tired, you will not muscle technique. When you’re tired, you can only use technique because you don’t have any strength left.
None of our wrestlers were defeated in the third period due to conditioning. Some of our wrestlers lost to better wrestlers with more experience or they had a bad day but none lost because of conditioning. Training the team before practice actually helped us. Their work capacity went through the roof.
Using partner applications cut the group in half. For an example: if you have 80 wrestlers and you partner them up and start focusing on partner concepts and bodyweight training now you’re really only coaching 40 groups. This allows the coach to cut his attention in half. Also, you never have to worry about what one wrestler is doing while they’re resting because there is no rest. Both wrestlers are engaged at all times.
As with any kind of training, safety comes first with a conservative approach. First, when performing partner lifts, it is extremely important to follow proper progression. Some of the advanced exercises look really cool and fun to perform. Don’t try them unless you have plenty of strength. This is true of some of the heavy partner lifting exercises.
Bodyweight exercises usually favor the lighter individual. Do not expect the heavier wrestlers to perform some of the exercises as easily as their lighter counterparts. It’s imperative to partner up two wrestlers that weigh about the same.
Wrestlers need gorilla strength not weightlifting strength. Wrestler’s need to drop weight not gain. Wrestlers need to go like heck for six to seven minutes depending on high school or college, not at sub-maximal effort over longer periods.
Wrestlers need to be proficient with isometric as well as explosive muscle contractions, not just controlled, full range of motion contractions. Wrestlers need muscular contraction cardio, not running miles. Knowing these simple facts allowed me to develop a 17-week program incorporating many bodyweight exercises and partner lifts.
This program progressed over four months. We started with simple bodyweight exercises and progressed to partner exercises. We started with one-to-two sets for five reps and ended with three-to-four sets of five-to-ten reps, depending on the exercise and the weight class of the wrestler.
The added benefits of this bodyweight training system is that wrestlers don’t have to leave the wrestling room to train and this workout becomes part of regular practice with no interruptions (like when teams have to go to the weight room).
The bodyweight program consist of agility/power, biomotor skills, metabolic conditioning, neck exercises, total-body power, lower-body power, upper-body power, total-body strength, lower-body strength, upper-body pulling strength, upper-body pushing strength and core exercises.
The bodyweight training system was so unique and effective that coach Gaier said his team was one of the strongest and most conditioned teams he’s ever coached in his 29 years. That year, Moeller wrestling had the highest ranking ever by making it into the top six in the nation.
The results were nothing short of phenomenal. I highly recommend that wrestling coaches of all ages and levels invest in this revolutionary bodyweight system created at CFF. I have produced a Bodyweight Training for Wrestlers DVD and private and team consultations are available. Please contact me at Scott@cincyfit.com.
(Scott Goodpaster, who founded Cincinnati Functional Fitness in 2005, graduated in 2002 from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Health Promotion. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA, Certified Functional Training Specialist and is USA Weight Lifting Sports Performance and Club Coach Certified.) n