July 17, 2021

The off-season is the perfect time to work on developing insane levels of strength, power, speed, and conditioning so you can ragdoll opponents come the season. During the season, it’s near impossible to make huge progress in these areas.

With grueling 5+ day a week training and weekly weight cuts, it's a battle of attrition with your sole goal to make weight and dominant competition. That is this off-season program is geared towards making you into an absolute monster on the mats.

What Does A Wrestler Need In Their 12 Week Training Program?

Get The Full 12-Week Off-Season Program For Wrestlers

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Firstly, we know that elite-level wrestlers have a stronger back squat, bench press, have greater grip strength, isometric back, and leg strength, and can generate up to 30% more muscle power than sub-elite wrestlers.

An elite wrestler's conditioning is also well developed with upper and lower body anaerobic power and capacity, as well as aerobic capacity, are much greater in elite-level wrestlers than sub-elite. Aerobic capacity differentiates between higher and lower-level wrestlers but anaerobic ability may predict wrestling success.

These superior power outputs are partly explained by the low body fat and high muscle mass elite wrestlers possess over sub-elite wrestlers.

Finally, wrestlers most commonly injure their shoulders, knees, and ankles so the training program must address these areas so they are robust to the rigors of wrestling.

The 12 Week Training Program Split

This 12-week off-season training program progresses in volume and intensity for the first eight weeks with the final four weeks being the most intense to properly prepare you for the season ahead.

You will train 6 days a week with some days being double-day training sessions. If you cannot devote the time to two training sessions, you can perform the conditioning session directly after strength training.

However, it is better to perform these sessions as far apart as possible. Here is how the breakdown for each day will look.

Get Stronger For Grappling/BJJ, While Training Less?

Phase 1

Day 1: Full Body Strength/Power

Day 2: Aerobic Conditioning

Day 3: Full Body Strength/Power/Hypertrophy

Day 4: Aerobic Conditioning

Day 5: Full Body Strength/Power

Day 6: Aerobic Conditioning

Day 7: OFF

Phase one is designed to prepare you for the following phases by developing resiliency within the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. You'll start building your wrestling gas tank that will complement these increases in strength and power so you can go harder for longer.

One main focus is to target aerobic adaptations to the heart so you can pump more blood per heartbeat. This is the simplest way to improve aerobic capacity. By improving aerobic capacity, you can break down lactate that is produced when glucose is broken down for energy.

While lactate is NOT the reason you get that burning, heavy sensation in your muscles, it is the subsequent build-up of waste products in the muscles like hydrogen ions (H+) that contribute to muscle fatigue.

These H+ ions acidify the muscle resulting in a reduced ability for the muscle to contract. We definitely don't want that when trying to defend or finish shots! The better developed our aerobic energy system is, the lower we can keep blood lactate levels and therefore, the lower the build-up of waste products.

Plyometrics and jumps are performed sub-maximally. The biggest mistake a wrestler can make is to start their off-season perform depth jumps off of high boxes and other crazy plyometrics. Your tendons aren’t ready for this stress. Especially if you’ve taken time off after the season.

So, this phase has you performing lots and lots of reps of low-impact plyometrics and jumps to increase your work capacity and prepare your muscles and tendons for more intense landings.

Finally, you will touch on the basic strength exercises at a higher volume to prepare you for heavier strength training in the coming phases.

Phase 2

Day 1: Full Body Strength/Power + A-lactic Power

Day 2: Aerobic Conditioning

Day 3: Full Body Strength/Power/Hypertrophy

Day 4: Aerobic Conditioning

Day 5: Full Body Strength/Power

Day 6: Aerobic Conditioning

Day 7: OFF

Phase two builds on phase one where aerobic conditioning is intensified to further target adaptations to the heart so you can pump more blood per heartbeat as well as adaptations to the working muscles so you can wrestle longer and high intensities.

Plyometrics and jumps are progressed to maximal effort to focus on developing power and reactive ability. Heavy medicine ball throws are also used to develop power at heavier loads.

Basic Olympic Weightlifting exercises are used to complement this heavy medicine ball work. Most martial arts don't need to use the Olympic lifts as there are easier, effective ways to develop speed and power.

However, wrestlers need to be explosive while manipulating another human more so than any other martial art. The Olympic lifts are perfect for moving heavy objects quickly.

Strength exercises are set up to maximize velocity and power. Again, moving heavy weight quickly is the main goal to maximize power output and reduce fatigue.

Phase 3

Day 1: Full Body Strength/Power + A-lactic Capacity

Day 2: Aerobic Conditioning

Day 3: Full Body Strength/Power + Anaerobic Lactic Conditioning

Day 4: OFF

Day 5: Full Body Strength/Power

Day 6: Anaerobic Lactic Conditioning

Day 7: OFF

Phase three is all about developing insane levels of power while increasing your ability to tolerate lactate build-up so you can wrestle harder for longer. A shift is made towards more anaerobic style conditioning so you can tolerate high lactate levels, and therefore during hard scrambles, you will be able to go harder for longer.

Strength training incorporates complex training to further maximize power output.

What Equipment Will You Need?

You will need your usual gym training equipment. Specifically, a barbell, plates, power rack, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine ball, and bands.

12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers

Here is the full first week of the 12-week training program for wrestlers.

Week 1, Day 1 (Strength Training)

Pre-Activity Preparation

Sets

Reps

Percentage

RPE

A1) Mobility Circuit

3

See options in program

Cell
Cell

B1) 4-Way Neck Isometric

3

10 sec/side

Cell
Cell

B2) Bent Over Reverse Fly

3

10

Cell
Cell

C1) Extensive Plyo/Jump Circuit 1

1

See circuit in program

Cell
Cell

Main Strength Work

Sets

Reps

Percentage

RPE

A1) Muscle Snatch From Hang + Floor

3

2+1

Cell

7

B1) Back Squat

3

8

65%

7

C1) Bench Press

3

10

65%

7

C2) Pull-Up OR Chin-Up

3

5-10

Cell

8

D1) Pallof ISO Hold

3

20 sec

Cell
Cell

E1) Farmers Walk

2

40 m

Cell
Cell

Day 2 (Aerobic Conditioning, Cardiac Output)

Exercise

Set/Rep

Heart Rate

Options: Run, bike, swim, row, ski-erg, med ball throws, skipping

1 x 30 min

120-150 BPM

Day 3 (Strength Training)

Pre-Activity Preparation

Sets

Reps

Percentage

RPE

A1) Mobility Circuit

3

See options in program

Cell
Cell

B1) 4-Way Neck Flexion

3

10/side

Cell
Cell

B2) DB Waiter Walk

3

20m/side

Cell
Cell

C1) Extensive Med Ball Circuit

1

10 reps each exercise

Cell
Cell

Main Strength Work

Sets

Reps

Percentage

RPE

A1) Press OR Landmine Press

3

6

Cell

7

A2) 1-Arm DB Row

3

10/side

Cell

7

B1) DB Split Squat

3

8/leg

Cell

7

B2) Isometric Back Extension

3

20 sec

Cell
Cell

C1) DB Lateral Raise

3

10

Cell

8

C2) Mini Band Spider Crawl

3

3

Cell

8

D1) Triceps Extension

3

10

Cell

8

D2) Fat BB Curl

3

8

Cell

8

Day 4 (Aerobic Conditioning, Cardiac Output)

Exercise

Set/Rep

Heart Rate

Options: Run, bike, swim, row, ski-erg, med ball throws, skipping

1 x 30 min

120-150 BPM

Day 5 (Strength Training)

Pre-Activity Preparation

Sets

Reps

Percentage

RPE

A1) Mobility Circuit

3

See options in program

Cell
Cell

B1) 4-Way Neck Isometric

3

10 sec/side

Cell
Cell

B2) Cable Face Pull

3

15

Cell
Cell

C1) Extensive Plyo/Jump Circuit 2

1

See circuit in program

Cell
Cell

Main Strength Work

Sets

Reps

Percentage

RPE

A1) Muscle Clean From Hang + Floor

3

2+1

Cell

7

B1) Deadlift OR Trap Bar Deadlift

3

8

60%

7

C1) Incline Bench Press

3

10

65%

7

C2) Pull-Up OR Chin-Up

3

5-10

Cell

8

D1) Hanging Knee Raise

3

10

Cell
Cell

E1) Hammer Pronation/Supination

3

10

Cell
Cell

Day 6 (Aerobic Conditioning, Aerobic Power)

Exercise

Set/Rep

Intensity

Options: Run, bike, swim, row, ski-erg

2 x (40sec/20sec x 8)

70% effort. Must be able to maintain same effort each interval. 2-3 mins rest between sets

Download The Full 12-Week Off-Season Training Program For Wrestlers

  • Take charge of your training and come back to wrestling season in beast like shape.
  • Scientific training designed to make you the enforcer ready to man handle opponents .
  • No longer will you be big but gas out, or have cardio but no strength. This program will give you everything you need to dominate.

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Off-season training is only one piece of the wrestling puzzle. The other piece is your nutrition.

Without sound nutrition, gaining muscle mass or getting lean will be something you are always chasing without any results to show for it.

The Nutrition For Combat Sports Handbook will teach you:

  • How to calculate your calories and macronutrients WITHOUT fancy, expensive equipment. Just a calculator!
  • A food checklist to guide your diet.
  • How to put together a nutrition plan with an example.

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About the author 

James de Lacey

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.


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