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Strength Training with Ricky Lundell

Strength Training with Ricky Lundell


Build Strength and Power in Your Hips to Improve Your Wrestling Game 

Wrestling is full of excitement when you understand and perform defense effectively.  Offense scores but as Kyle Dake illustrates, in his DVD, Defense Wins Championships.  Watching Kyle defend a double leg is a beautiful dance of technique, strength, and power.  When opponents shoot, the greats don’t run away (taking their powerful hips out of the game) or just only sprawl. The best of the best have the confidence, strength, and power to slam hip to hip, or hip to shoulder (causing a small car crash), creating just the right moment to change angles, turning a double leg into a single leg, making sure they are a hot nano-second ahead in the defense game, forcing their opponent to switch attacks while creating a quick escape.  Kyle Dake knows this and this is why he consistently trains using front squats and cleans, as seen on his Instagram @kyledake444.

Remember, your hips are your most powerful weapon, especially after your opponent has blocked your head and hands.  At the FILA World Team Grappling Championships in Switzerland, 2008, I was in a challenging hand and head fight. An amazing Canadian opponent, he snapped me and shot underneath my body.  When he shot underneath, I had to explode forward with my hips slamming him hard, creating my magic moment to block him, circle him, then step through for a turk. In that match I didn’t take one shot but I got the take down.  My defense was the take down, made possible by my hips. Yes, technique is critically important. But when you are equal in technique with your opponent, strength and power become the next denominator. Without that hip strength I would not have won three world titles in Grappling.

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As a professional mixed martial arts fighting coach and high school wrestling coach, I have seen many a loss because fighters are doing “functional lifting.”  I started training Gracie Jiu-Jitsu at 6-years-old with Pedro Sauer (8th Degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Coral Belt under legendary Grand Master Helio Gracie and Master Rickson Gracie) and wrestled at Iowa State under Cael Sanderson (Wrestling Olympic Gold Medalist).  Blending the arts of Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling is now second nature to me. But in the beginning, I had a mind block because I had learned at a young age that it was technique that mattered not strength and power.  As I progressed deeper into both sports (4th degree Black Belt in Gracie BJJ and Wrestling Coach for professional fighters), I am now a firm believer that when used wisely, strength and power are essential to use in the magic moment of transitions.  

Most people believe they are developing strength and power by doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps (or more), what is known as hypertrophy training.  Hypertrophy training has the benefit of making you look very strong and big. Arnold Schwarzeneggar made this type of training very popular worldwide.  Hypertrophy training does help you get marginally stronger, but the result is bigger cells and heavier muscles. Hypertrophy training takes the cell expanding it outward using pressure during the 6th , 7th, and 8th reps, all the way up to the 12th rep.  Bigger doesn’t mean stronger or more powerful.  Additionally, the extra bulk in the muscles makes flexibility more difficult as many become muscle bound. If you lose mobility, you will perform sloppy wrestling technique. 

For serious wrestlers, I recommend training specifically for strength and power, not to increase in size.  As an example, look at Buvaisar Saitiev, world class in wrestling technique, strength, and power, but you wouldn’t know it by just looking at him.  He has not trained for size but rather for strength, power, and flexibility, winning 6 FILA Freestyle Wrestling World Championships, 3 Gold Olympic Medals, and a Silver Olympic Medal. I recommend workloads based on 3 reps for building strength, doing those 3 reps under 5 seconds for power.  If your focus remains on form and mobility, deep back and front squats are an excellent vehicle to create strength but not bulk retaining the flexibility to perform world class wrestling. When I say deep squats, I am recommending that you go all the way down to the floor until your butt is almost touching your heels, creating complete flexibility while building strength and power.  Snatches and power cleans will assist you with quick hip movement, which is a necessity when you face your equal in wrestling technique and they succeed in getting past your head and hands.  

Remember that the universe is always working for your good but it works faster when you put in tremendous effort at improving just 1% a day.  While working as a Wrestling Coach at Bishop Gorman High School, I was constantly thinking of how to motivate different students with diverse skill levels.  I was searching for something deeper than just positive motivation. When a 15-year-old doesn’t have the physical skills to compete and win a wrestling match, you can’t say, “Just do it.  Go win the match,” expecting that somehow they will magically obtain what they lack for competition. Discouraged after their first loss, young men with tremendous talent would quit. They were unable to see a reasonable way to reach the necessary level to compete and win.  

College wrestlers go through this as they transition from high school to collegiate athletics.  They are used to winning high school level matches and college level performance requires greater mastery of technique, strength, and power.  Same thing is true for professional fighters. Again, giving 100% Effort to get 1% Better Every Day is the answer for anyone trying to master any skill, no matter how difficult and complex. Building technique, strength, and power is done by daily lifting. Order BJJ Fanatics’ 1% Better Every Day Strength Building System DVD to learn how to build the strength and power you need to be the next World Champion, with detailed instruction on performing power cleans, jerks, deep back & front squats with full flexibility  Join the 1% movement and follow me on Instagram @rickylundell.

p.s. As always, remember to follow your academy’s rules.  Stay strong out there, my friend.

How much better could you be if your simply improved by 1% EVERY DAY? Ricky Lundell gives you the plan in 1% Better Everyday Strength Building System! Take CONTROL of your life and BE BETTER!