Five Lifts Every Wrestler Should Be Doing
Lifting weights is an important part of training for wrestling. Developing physical strength can give a big advantage over your opponents that don’t lift weights. There are many different lifts you could do in the weight room; some are going to be more beneficial for wrestling than others. To maximize your time in the weight room, here are five foundational lifts that all wrestlers should be doing.
It is obviously important for wrestlers to build strong legs. There are many different exercises you can do to help build up leg strength like leg presses or back squats, but one exercise that is very beneficial for wrestlers is a front squat.
A front squat is done with a bar resting in front of the neck on the shoulders in what is called a front rack position. You will not be able to lift as much weight in a front squat as you can with a back squat, but because the weight is in front of you, your body must engage more muscles in your back and core.
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When you compare a front squat to wrestling, there are a lot of similarities between the two movements. Think about when you lift an opponent with a double leg or a body lock, that is very similar to a front squat; the weight is in front of your body. Also, when you are in a stance and your opponent is trying to snap you down. You have to engage the same back and core muscles to stay on your feet as you do when you do a front squat.
Check out this video to learn proper front squat form.
Another great exercise that all wrestlers should be doing is pull ups. Pulling is such an essential part of wrestling. When you hit snap down, you are pulling. When you shoot in and grab onto a leg you are pulling, and when you trying to keep a tilt nice and tight you are pulling; there are so many movements in wrestling that involve pulling.
Pull ups not only help to develop the pulling muscles of your back like your lats, rhomboids, and teres major, but also strengthen your biceps as well. Another great benefit of doing pull ups is the development of grip strength, and just like having a strong pull is important, so is having a strong grip.
Pull ups can be done in many different ways. You can do standard grip pull up or widen or narrow your grip. You could turn your hands to change up your grip. You could do L-sit pull ups to strengthen your core or even wear a weight belt to add extra resistance when you do them. The possibilities are endless when it comes to pull up variations and each variation can target different aspects of strength development.
Just like wrestlers need to strengthen their pull, they also need to focus on pressing to help develop shoulder and triceps strength. Dumbbell presses are a great way to work on this. There are many different variations of dumbbell presses you can do. You can do them standing or sitting to really focus on shoulder strength, or you could lay down on a flat, incline, or decline bench to involve the muscles of your chest.
Using dumbbells also helps to develop the small stabilizer muscles of the shoulder which is another great benefit of using them compared to a barbell.
Another great lift that is great for wrestlers is a deadlift. Much like the front squat, it not only helps to build up leg strength, but also helps to develop a lot of back strength, a lot like front squats, only more. In its simplest form, deadlifting is just lifting heavy weight off the ground which is very applicable to wrestling. If you are looking to build raw strength to your legs and lower back, deadlifts are a great exercise.
Just be sure you are using proper form. Because deadlifts are done with heavy weight, you can really hurt yourself if you are doing them with poor technique.
Power cleans are a great lift to add explosive strength and power to your legs. A power clean is lifting a weight off the floor and having it end up in what is called the front rack position, which is the bar resting on your shoulders in front of your neck.
Another great benefit of a power clean is it helps to develop hip explosion. In wrestling, a lot of emphasis is put on being able to pop your hips or drive with your hips. You can see this with most throws like a lateral drop or when a wrestler pops their hips to elevate their opponent to return them back to the mat after a stand up.
A power clean is a complex movement that involves most of the body. Be sure to focus a lot on learning the proper technique.
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