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Here are several exercises to help wrestlers build power

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Updated: April 15, 2022

Photo: Tire throwing is another way to develop power.

By Zach Even-Esh

Sometimes athletes and coaches get overly complicated with their training. They see someone on Instagram doing something fancy with bands or special equipment and then they try to implement this exercise with no context as to why someone else is doing this exercise.

The focus for 99 percent of athletes should be brilliance with the basics. I am covering three basic exercises that are excellent for developing power. Technique needs to be always the priority of these exercises.

Hang Power Clean

  • Before teaching the clean, the wrestlers must be proficient with a front squat.
  • Keep the back flat.
  • Slide the bar down to right over the knees.
  • Reverse the motion with a jump shrug. I often tell the athlete, “Shoulders to ears!”
  • As the bar is pulled up close to the body, once it gets to sternum area you pull yourself under the bar and catch it in the power position, which is essentially a half squat.
  • For wrestlers, I talk about the level change and they quickly pick up on this.
  • Perform Cleans with reps in the 1-5 range.

Zercher Squat

  • This exercise can be used with a barbell or a sandbag / heavy sandball.
  • You simply double under the barbell and perform a deep squat.
  • The elbows should travel between the legs, not on the legs which would shorten the range of motion.
  • Perform reps in the 3-6 range with a barbell. If using a sandbag / ball, reps can be in the 5-10 range.

Medicine Ball Throwing

  • You can throw light med balls against a wall from various positions
  • You can also throw heavier or light medicine balls outdoors for distance. Throw for height and distance from various positions.

In my early years, we threw car tires like they did in the early 1980s for World’s Strongest Man Competition.

Reps here can be 10-20 reps, or you can perform sets for time. For example, throwing a medicine ball against a wall from various positions for two minutes non-stop: rotational throw x 10 reps each side, overhead throw x 10 reps, chest pass x 10 reps and then keep going until two minutes is over.

These three exercises can be put together into a training session, below is a sample you can perform after a thorough warm-up:

1A) Zercher Squat 2 x 5 reps warm-up, 3 x 3 Heavy;

1B) Broad Jump 5 x 3 reps;

2A) Hang Clean (50% of 1-Rep Max): 5 x 2 reps;

2B) Overhead Med Ball Throw to Wall 5 x 5;

2C) Rotational Med Ball Throw 5 x 5 / 5 each side;

3A) Rope Climb or Rope Pull-Ups 3 x MAX reps;

3B) Clapping Push-Ups 3 x 5 reps;

3C) Jump Rope 3 x 1 Minute;

As a finisher, you can add hill sprints or sprints outdoors with incomplete recoveries to push your conditioning and toughness. And a final note, the most important thing in wrestling is wrestling. You must work on your skills and compete in the off-season. Your lifestyle must be dialed in from what you eat, to your sleep habits to your social circles to your behavior off the mat. It all counts.

(Zach Even-Esh is the founder of The Underground Strength Gym in New Jersey, the author of The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and serves as a consultant for individuals and programs seeking elite performance. Connect with Zach at https://ZachEven-Esh.com and https://UndergroundStrengthCoach.com)

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