Mat Strength for Wrestling

Talking about mat strength for wrestling you have to understand a lot of factors that contribute to the key strength characteristics of power endurance, grip strength, and the ability to handle a scramble by being explosive to apply a large amount of force in a short period.


Power endurance is the ability to put out a large percentage of your max power output late in the match. Think about the 6th minute of a match. You have to train two different things. Start with training impulse, which is force over time. You have to do things like absolute strength and technical coordination exercises to train areas that will make you as explosive as possible.


Making yourself more powerful increases your overall impulse. A big focus might mean taking your max power clean from 100 kilos to 120 kilos. That is the power portion. But you then have to bring in the endurance part to put out a large amount of power over a long period. For example, having a max power clean of 120 kilos but can only hit 90 kilos six minutes in, you will struggle against the person who can hold a max clean at 110 kilos late in the match. On-the-minute power cleans are great for developing this skill. You can also do on-the-minute power output on an assault bike to improve power endurance. You can also do a full session and then take 5 minutes to do plyometrics with 30 seconds rest between efforts.


As a wrestler, scrambles are a part of the sport. Scrambles put you in crazy positions that may last for thirty to forty seconds. You may end up in a single-leg position where you have to hit a funk to improve your position. You may be in a crazy collar tie and your lats, neck, and quads fatigue. Improving a scramble situation from all the different angles has one easy trick to help your physiology. You may laugh, but spending 4 to 5 days a week for 20 to 30 minutes in the sauna will help increase your mitochondrial volume.


The second thing to help with scrambles is to do things from different joint ranges. Do single-leg squats, pistol squats, side step-ups, and crazy plyometric series and sled pushes. You will learn how to be fatigued and explosive at the same time. Being able to scramble better improves your gas tank on the wrestling mat.


A third key concept comes into play when you tie up with somebody. You need to understand that grip work is paramount to having good mat strength. Grip work needs to be trained explosively, isometrically over incredibly long periods, and needs to be trained in pulling situations. 


To be as explosive as possible with your grip, plate flips are a great exercise to develop explosive grip strength. It will help you with wrist control and being heavy on a collar tie.


Training long isometric periods can be done by doing Homers, a bicep exercise, for multiple sets in a row. You can do walking hammer curls with fat grips for multiple minutes to train your biceps under fatigue while blowing up your forearms. You can also do farmer’s carries, hanging from a pull-up bar, or hanging from a pull-up bar with a towel.


The third key is using movements and grips that mimic the pulling in wrestling, reaching for the head, or going for a single leg. Exercises like miracle gros, 2” rope pull-ups, and sled pulls with a 2” rope to name a few.


Understand that to improve your mat strength you are training your grip, power endurance, and working to improve your scrambling ability. 

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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