West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker, National Wrestling Hall of Famer
and Rick Welker

. . . on Off-Season Activities
Part Two

Weight Training

The three prime components of successful wrestling are skill development, conditioning, and strength. When opposing wrestlers are identical in skill development and conditioning, the deciding factor often becomes strength.

Weight training is a year-round endeavor if a wrestler aspires to be a state champion. Furthermore, the wrestler's priority should be to lift weights for muscle endurance strength-more reps with less weight, and not for explosive strength-few reps with more weight (see chapter 8).

The wrestler's first step in initiating an off-season weight training program is to talk with his wrestling coach, strength coach, or weightlifting trainer from the local ?tness center. One of these individuals will see to it that the wrestler starts his weight training program at appropriate weights (and with the correct amount of time at each station) for his body type. Not knowing the proper weight or number of sets and repetitions to do for beginning weight training can cause serious muscular injury.

One time-tested approach is circuit training with one set of 10 repetitions for each of three weightlifting exercise cycles. The amount of weight for each exercise should be enough that the wrestler strains to accomplish the last two or three repetitions. The ideal weight-training program should occur three days a week (for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

Safety is another important factor. To begin with, it would be wise to work with a partner of similar body size so that one can spot while the other is lifting. Note also the following basic safety tips for free weights and weightlifting machines.

Free Weights

1 Take great care in putting the weights on the bar evenly; otherwise the bar could tip, potentially causing injury.
2 Make sure all weights are locked securely.
3 Watch out for bars that are shoulder height or above. Athletes could get serious facial injuries by walking into the bar.
4 Put barbells, dumbbells, and weight plates away when you are ? nished so that nobody trips over them.

Weightlifting Machines

1 See to it that the selector keys are inserted all the way.
2 Place levers and seats at locations that suit your body size.
3 Establish a stable sitting and foot-support base when performing exercises.
4 Keep hands and ?ngers as far as possible from any moving objects on the weightlifting machine.

Always remember that off-season weight training is just as important to the dedicated wrestler as in-season weight training.

Off-Season Sports

A final concern for the wrestler in the off-season is to be actively involved in enhancing his cardiovascular endurance. This can be accomplished via many avenues of physical activity. We will begin with off-season sports.

In the spring, the wrestler could compete in track and field. The wrestler who is sincere about his physical endurance should compete in long-distance events, such as the 1500- or 3000-meter events.

Baseball is another great spring competition; it is outstanding for short sprint training but not for endurance workouts. Should a wrestler choose to play baseball, great! However, he should also consider doing extra running.

Two great autumn activities that are conducive to cardiovascular eficiency are cross-country and soccer. The diligent wrestler would be wise to compete in one of these two sports before wrestling season.

Finally, the most popular American sport of the fall-football-is another athletic prospect for the wrestler during the autumn months. Like baseball, this extremely physical sport also requires brief bursts of physical activity during competition, but not stamina. So the serious wrestler who plays football needs to add running to his daily routine.

Off-Season Running

If a wrestler is not competing in off-season sports that promote physical endurance, he must design his own running program (see chapter 8). Following is an off-season running plan that has worked for many champion wrestlers. It coincides with the weight-training schedule prescribed in the previous section.

Because the wrestler is lifting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, he should run on alternating days-Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Sunday would be a day of rest. These recommendations will maximize the effectiveness of a running program:

1 The wrestler must first perform flexibility exercises for the legs and arms before running.
2 During the summer months, the wrestler should run in the mornings and carry water to beat the heat.
3 The wrestler should run four to six miles
4 Interval training is an outstanding strategy for running (see chapter 8). This method involves alternating running and sprinting. For example, the wrestler's initial pace could involve seven- to nine-minute miles, depending on his body build. If in doubt, he should ask for his coach's advice. While running, the wrestler would sprint 30 seconds every two minutes, using a stopwatch. Substitutes for sprinting include running up hills or steps during the workout.
5 When the wrestler's run is completed, he should cool down by walking for 10 to 15 minutes. At this time, he should also hydrate himself by drinking enough water to make him feel comfortable.

Off-season activities are very important for wrestlers who want to succeed in the mat sport. Summer wrestling clinics, postseason wrestling tournaments, weight training, and off-season sports and running are prerequisites for such achievement. As their coach, you are responsible for guiding them in such a positive direction.

Wrestling Words of Wisdom
"The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thought."
- John Locke

(Excerpt from The Wrestling Drill Book, 2E by Bill Welker. It can be purchased at www.humankinetics.com or www.amazon.com.)

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