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Photo: Pushing a car/truck — not running, but left in neutral — is a great way to build a strong foundation. (Zach Even-Esh photo)
By Zach Even-Esh
In the summer, with less competition and more time to recover, wrestlers have a great opportunity to challenge themselves through some tough workouts. Before we get into the training, understand that none of this training will work if your nutrition is sub-par or you don’t follow a champion lifestyle. Sleep eight to nine hours a night, surround yourself with other highly-motivated athletes, eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. You must be dialed in if you want to maximize your success on the mat and in your life!
I suggest doing these workouts with some teammates or if you’re a coach, organize these workouts for your team. Before these workouts can be done, you need a solid level of fitness.
WARNING: These are not for beginners.
You should be able to perform plenty of push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, squats and hill sprints without fatigue. Calisthenics and sprints are a must for wrestlers, even at the most advanced levels. They set the foundation and will always work.
These high volume and tough workouts can be done at your own discretion. Again, you must be very fit to do these challenges.
Truck Push – With a car or truck in an empty parking lot, turn the engine off and put the car in neutral. Get behind the car with arms straight and push for 100 feet. Drive the car back and repeat for 5-10 sets.
Sandbag / Stone / Heavy Med-Ball Throw (Distance / Over Obstacles) – This can be performed in a variety of ways. I have had wrestlers clean and throw a Kettlebell for six minutes non-stop. A strength coach who grew up in martial arts in the 1970s told me his instructor had him clean and throw a heavy stone across a mile on the sand, then he would return the next mile running in knee-high water.
You can throw a sandbag over a bench or obstacle, then run to the other side and repeat for high reps or extended time.
At The Underground Strength Gym, we have wrestlers group in pairs of five, two on one side, three on the other. They clean and throw the heavy med ball, run to the other line and then the next wrestler goes. They repeat for time or high reps as well.
Hill Sprints – You can’t go wrong with hill sprints. Steep hills will really push you. Many of the best athletes in the world have sworn by hill sprints. I heard Kurt Angle would perform hill sprints with his training partner on his back as he prepped for the Olympics. When I used to train wrestlers outside at an elementary school, one guy would push the truck, another guy would pull sleds across the grass and then two guys would sprint the hill. And at the top of the hill, they would either hand fight for 20 seconds or alternate leg attacks with a lift on every rep.
Farmer Walk Long Distances – Rather than a normal set of 100 or 150 feet of Farmer Walks, choose a distance like a lap around the block, something that is quarter mile or slightly longer. Every time you place the weights down, perform 10 or 20 push-ups.
Tire Flip – My friend told me 20 years ago that when he learned strongman training, the guy who taught him was a strongman competitor. So rather than basic sets and reps, they did things like tire flips down the entire street and back. Depending on the size of your tire, you can adjust the volume accordingly. The last thing you want is lots of reps with poor form (round back).
High-Volume Calisthenics – Have you ever done 1,000 push-ups in a day? Basically, you will break down the 1,000 reps into 25 or 50 at a time. You might do a bunch in the morning, then during the day every hour you drop and hit push-ups; then again at night, a large chunk of push-ups. You can do this with pull-ups and squats as well. The dedicated wrestlers are building their back and legs on a regular basis.
(Zach Even-Esh is the owner of The Underground Strength Gym in New Jersey and a consultant for wrestling coaches and elite athletes. For more information, visit https://ZachEven-Esh.com and https://UndergroundStrengthCoach.com. Get your FREE strength training courses at http://ZachStrength.com.)