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Wrestling Workout Routine

author image Ryan Mess
Ryan Mess earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Cal Poly SLO, where he played rugby. His fitness expertise bloomed during his college and semi-pro rugby career. And since then, he has been training everyone from youth to professional athletes to grandparents in all things fitness and health while still competing.
Wrestling Workout Routine
A man is exercising in a gym. Photo Credit IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock/Getty Images

John Saylor is considered one of the best combat sports coaches in the U.S. for his strength and conditioning expertise and accomplishments both as a competitor and a coach. He found that the only way to mimic the lactic acid attack experienced in a world class judo match was to perform circuit-training workouts. Assuming that you have wrestling practice in the morning and evening, you need to train additionally before your AM practice and after your PM practice, six days per week, with Sunday off. You have 12 circuit-training sessions each week with four additional heavy lifting sessions. Max effort and dynamic lifts take place in the beginning of the AM session since you will be less fatigued from wrestling at this time. Monday morning is max-effort lower body and Thursday morning is dynamic lower body. Tuesday morning is dynamic upper body and Friday is max effort upper body.

Max and Dynamic Lift Days

Before any session, dynamically warm up your posterior chain, your abs and the specific muscles involved in the lift you choose for that day. Then, start with just the bar and warm up into your heavy weights, treating every set with utmost technical respect. On maximum-effort, lower-body days, choose a variation of back squats, front squats, deadlifts, good mornings or box squats and gradually work up to one peak set of two to six reps. On dynamic day, choose one of the lower variations and do 12 sets of two reps with 30 seconds rest between sets, using 70 to 80 percent of your best weight in that lift. On maximum-effort upper days, choose overhead presses, push presses, jerks, bench presses or floor press and work up to that one peak set of two to six reps. Then, on dynamic-upper day, choose one of the upper lift variations and do 10 sets of three reps with 30 seconds rest between sets, using the same 70 to 80 percent range. Change your main lifts regularly.

Circuit Structure

Always choose movements that improve your weaknesses and improve your wrestling. In your morning circuits, choose four to eight body-weight – gymnastics – movements and perform each movement for one minute consecutively, reaching as many reps as possible each minute. At the end of the final movement, rest one minute and perform three to six total rounds of this circuit. In your evening sessions, choose three to six weighted movements doing the same circuit structure, but at 30 to 45-second intervals to accommodate for the added weight. In a few sessions each week, substitute Tabata intervals, choosing four to six movements and completing each entirely before moving to the next.

Muscles and Lungs

All PM sessions should be full-body circuits. A PM circuit could involve heavy lunges, dumbbell clean and presses, overhead sit-ups, kettlebell swings and weighted box jumps. Two of the six morning circuits are full body, while the other four focus specifically on the muscles that were most active in the main lifts on those days -- abs, lats, posterior chain and legs on lower mornings and abs, lats, arms, and shoulders on upper mornings. If your lung capacity is suffering in training, finish all your circuits with hill or flat-ground sprints -- where you sprint roughly 100 meters in 15 seconds or less -- and then jog back to the start line and repeat this on each minute for 10 sprints. The key is getting down the course under 15 seconds.

Leave No Stone Unturned

In your circuits, use gymnastics, Olympic lifts, power lifts, strongman movements and tons of sled drags. When your body feels overly fatigued, swim in a pool or the ocean to circulate blood and decompress your spine and joints. Always force your body and your mind to adapt while remaining technically sound and safe. Also, leave no weaknesses.

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