Explosive Wrestling Strength Training Workout With Gwiz
When training explosive based work for wrestling we need to understand the key elements of the sport. We know that wrestlers need to have absolute strength, relative strength and we know, if in season, strength endurance is needed. However, when talking about offseason explosive training, we can take strength endurance out of the equation.
In the offseason, we believe it is very important for wrestlers to focus A LOT on weaknesses. It is our consistent experience that wrestlers tend to be weak in regards to absolute strength and explosiveness. Wrestlers love to do endurance work, cardio and conditioning. But they might struggle to work on their maximal strength and explosiveness.
That’s where this offseason explosive workout comes into play. As a strength coach, we need to try to develop a weakness so that it will lead to greater performance on the mat. So when analyzing a wrestlers offseason training, focusing a lot on explosive capability can lead to serious domination on the mat.
We want extremely explosive wrestlers that operate so fast their opponent is dumbfounded. We need to think about the strength work that will transfer to the explosiveness. On top of that, we need to hone in on explosive skill work that will transfer over to the mat.
The first thing we like to do at Garage Strength when focusing on offseason explosive work for wrestlers is seeing how well the wrestling athletes execute explosive work in the weightroom. How well do they technically coordinate? Handle the olympic lifts--snatch, clean? Do they have a technical mindset?
It is our experience that some wrestlers when young are very aggressive that they intuitively understand how to apply a lot of force through that intensity, but don’t understand how to apply force through a technical understanding. We want to see a little bit of a mindshift here. We want the super, super aggressive mindset to change to technically coordinating with the aggressive nature so that they can be super explosive while holding better positions.
1A) Higher Rep Cleans--4x2 then 2x5
We like to focus, with the first exercise, on some higher rep cleans. Typically we ask our wrestlers to complete cleans off of two blocks or one block. This will mimic the hip angle and knee flexion we see when wrestlers are on the mat.
Just to be clear, when we say higher reps, we aren’t talking about sets of ten reps. Some strength coaches will do this--we won’t go over sets of five reps. What we prefer to do is have the wrestlers build over sets of doubles, say three to four sets, gradually adding weight each set. This starts to potentiate their nervous system and gets them to feel the movement of the power clean or full clean off the boxes. Then we like to announce the goal. The goal, the purpose of this first movement, is to try to establish repetitive explosiveness with technical coordination.
We define technical coordination as a static contraction (off the blocks), followed by a dynamic contraction (making contact with the bar), followed by absorption of energy (catching the clean as elasticity), then the fourth aspect, a contraction based around absolute strength (standing the weight up). Then we drop the clean and repeat. We want to repeat that clean at least five times at a top end.
So, we may program 3-4 sets x2 reps followed by 2x5. We want the sets of five reps to be very difficult. If the wrestler can express this power output over a longer period of time (four to five reps) and can do it rapidly (over 30 to 45 seconds) we know that when the season comes around they can handle scrambles better on the mat. They will be more explosive from better positions which will transfer very well when competing against serious opponents.
2A) Side/Side/Single Back/Sprint Forward--5x2/2
So the weight room work is done. We got some great potentiation from the higher rep cleans that stimulated the nervous system. Not only will it wake up the nervous system, it is going to make the athlete more technically minded and stronger, especially if they were performing full cleans which will trigger some absolute strength development.
After resting for two to five minutes after the cleans, we are going to start doing some bodyweight explosive work. It is all about a rapid rate of coordination. Wrestlers that dominate have a rapid rate of coordination; they are very explosive and their body can coordinate very, very quickly.
This exercise doesn’t have a fancy name. It is simply do a side jump, followed by another side jump, then the single leg drives back and when the back leg plants the athlete sprints forward. The movement creates multiple different angles for the athlete to work through. That is where it transfers very well to the sport of wrestling.
If we think about applying force on numerous different angles, through numerous different planes and then apply a ton of speed to that, we now start to take the strength gains developed in the weightroom and utilize the big muscles to apply rapid force.
We like to have athletes perform this series of movements for 5 sets of 2 reps on each side. There needs to be a good bit of rest after each set, like two minutes, because performing the movement twice on both sides can be fatiguing.
It is important to think about reacting quickly and changing direction quickly. That is a big concept wrestlers need to understand. By getting stronger and learning how to utilize that strength through different changes of direction, changes of level, it will lead to great mat speed and more explosiveness.
3A) Gwiz Stair Jumps--4x3/3
3B) Jan Jumps--4x1/1
The next key factor brings us to plyometric movements that are used to express explosiveness in a jump series (Jan Jumps) and improve the penetration step (Gwiz Stair Jumps).
The Gwiz stair jump is a unilateral movement. It is ideally performed on steps, but can be performed on a box. We like using the steps because as the jump is performed repetitively, it is easier on the body to react from a unilateral perspective. The back knee needs to be on a pad with the back foot elevated. The athlete needs to plant with the front foot and drive forward with a little bit of height and repeat that same leg as the jumps repeat. Ideally, athletes will perform three jumps on the right leg and three jumps on the left leg. Rest a minute, then perform the Jan jump series.
The Jan jump series asks the wrestler to perform angled jumps from a unilateral perspective, followed by a bilateral explosiveness. We can see left leg, left leg, right leg, right leg, land bilaterally, explode over the hurdle.
These two movements can really challenge the body's knowledge. That's a big factor here. Wrestling is an open skill sport, but it typically has to be trained from a closed skill perspective in the weightroom. However, if we train the close skill from multiple different angles, it now makes the transition from the close skill in the weightroom to the open skill on the mat that much easier. By doing these movements the body can tap into the strength and explosiveness gained in the weightroom to better coordinate on the mat.
These movements need to be super setted together for four sets.
4A) Kamara Lunge--4x4/4
4B) Jump Lunge To Box--4x3/3
Finally we are going to finish the workout off with some bodyweight supplementary movements. For the Kamara lunge, the athlete plants the front foot, gets just past ninety degrees and holds the isometric for a solid two count and then walks forward and does it on the opposite leg. The weights bouncing all over the place on the Kamara lunge is going to force the athlete to control their trunk, abs, obliques, hips, groin, upper back, everything all together. On top of that, it is done in a split position. The better trunk control makes it harder for opponents who are heavy on the head can manipulate the athlete as well.
Training the trunk dynamically is paramount for wrestlers. Once a wrestler has dynamic trunk control, they can move very effectively and can be very explosive on the mat. Trunk control makes for a center of mass that can hit positions extremely well.
Perform this movement for four reps on each leg, rest about a minute. Now that the body is potentiated from all the perturbations from the kettlebells shaking on the bamboo bar, walk over to a 20” to 24” box. The outside leg needs to be leading, explode and land on the box with a very brief pause when dropping off the box. Now the wrestler is training explosiveness that is potentiated from the Kamara lunge.
Wrestlers that are explosive in the split positions will see great transfer over to the mat. Perform four sets of four reps on each leg with the Kamara lunge and then four sets of three on each leg with the jump lung to the box, rest about two minutes after each super set.
After finishing the workout, it is important to recover well--get sleep! Make sure to be eating well, performing the necessary mobility, eating well and making sure the body is being taken care of in the offseason so that strength can continue to improve and become more explosive as well.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.