T Nation

Westside and Wrestling

For the past year, I have been toying with Westside training and also just finished a few cycles Joe Average style. Both of these seem to have helped with my mat strength(wrestling strength). What I have been wondering lately is should I switch to the Westside for Skinny Bastards during my more intense wrestling training.

WFSB is a great program, but I don’t know if I’d ever do it during wrestling season. The repetition days will leave you incredibly sore for a while, and you obviously won’t need any more of that.

What would ya’ll recomend. I’m just looking at a way to maintain some of my strength while training. In the past, my wrestling has either suffered from too much weight training during season, or not enough.

do you wrestle in college, high school, or recreationally?

i dont think that any of the T-nation programs would be a good in-season program for wrestling because they are too taxing.

LOW volume, moderately high intensity workouts that are entirely compound lifts are probably your best bet.(ie. 3 sets of 5 reps, 15-20 sets per week durring a competative part of the year.) body weight workouts are frequent, and practice and competition leave little recovery capacity for high volume work.

deadlifts are my favorite, and i utilized them often when i was a high school wrestler. the posterior chain has to be strong in order to maintain a stance, prevent yourself from being snapped down, throws from the neutral position, and executing explosive doubles.

all sorts of rowing and pulls are also a must. rack pulls, seated rows, and pull ups (low reps with weight) all strengthen the pulling muscles. this is most useful for sucking the legs in close on a shot, most tilts, and barring arms.

the strength coach at cornell told me that wrestling requires strength in the following order of importance:

  1. legs, and hips
  2. pulling (back and bi’s)
  3. “core” strength
  4. pushing (chest, shoulders, tri’s)

this helped me make the most of my time in the gym durring the season, instead of doing 5X10 bench and then curls in the squat rack like a few other guys were doing.

train movements instead of muscles and you will be better off.

and remember, if you are a wrestler, wrestling is the most important thing you can do. weight training may be high on your list of priorities, but it better not be first.

…im glad to hear that there are some wrestlers out there who visit this site
Good luck bro

hope that helps

What the NSCA journal recommended regarding in season wrestling training was a circuit set based around Oklahoma State’s wrestling program. They used the circuit to not only keep up strength, but also keep the anaerobic energy systems in good enough shape.

I use a variation of this with some of the wrestlers I train right now.

They start off with a warmup involving a good amount of dynamic stretches (they don’t stretch enough, so I have to make them do it now). Then I have them do one of a couple olympic lifts using something like 3 sets of 2 reps. I try to keep it pretty heavy, but have a low volume (as you can see).

The circuit is definitely more individually planned, however, since the three guys not only are in different degrees of shape, but also have different strengths, muscle imbalances, etc.

I have them all do forearm supersets (involving all planes + grip work), though.

I usually do the machines for much of the circuit since they have literally no rest from machine to machine.

Diablo Barbell is home to several fighters and wrestlers. One of which will be featured in the “Ultimate Fighting” reality TV show on Spike. These guys are no joke.

They all train westside and wrestle/fight at the same time. For their success PWO recovery is essential as well as appropriate rest. IMO if you listen to your body and head it’s warnings, eat right and sleep enough you should be fine.

I have been training westside for a year now and have been sore maybe 3-4 times total. If you are taking the appropriate measures that shouldn’t be an issue. I drink half of my PWO shake during the second half of my workout and then the rest when I am finished. This shake contains plenty of carbs, protein and I also mix in some creatine and BCAAs. Works for me!

Best of luck with it.

Thanks for all the advice. It’s nice to know that I can get help with my training fast by coming to these forums.

FWIW, coming from someone who never wrestled amateur (which is one of my biggest regrets from HS), a few wrestling and grappling coaches highly recommend BW and exercises with a partner as resistance, esp in-season. Guys like Furey, Sonnon, Gracies. etc.

Even old-school guys like Farmer Burns aslo loved BW exercises, partner exercises, awa working with sandbags, bags of wheat, grain, barrels, whatever. Things that you would as a manual laborer or a farmer.

(Sidenote: Burns and “Strangler” Lewis were both farmers who went on to become world heavyweight champions. Also, Rulon Gardner and Brock lesnar were farmers as well.)

The idea is to work with things that more closely resemble an opponent and in positions that weights don’t give you. Also, partners, barrels, bags, etc give you more resistance: they are awkward and challenge your strength in different planes of movement.

My advice? Try 2 weeks of Westside training and 2 weeks of bw/partner/bags training. See if there’s a difference. Get a teammate to experiment with you and see what happens. have fun!

what weight do you wrestle at?
are you in college or highschool?
i used to wrestle and that was in highschool, and i believe that it’s the
hardest best conditioning sport you can
go out for despite it being a “team sport” and when your’re on the mat it’s
time to walk the walk…
if you would i would like to know your
progress on this thread or you can pm
me. goodluck!

“There is a difference gaining strength by lifting lumps of iron and gaining strength fighting for your life.”

Words of wisdom from Conan, as he snaps the neck of an unnamed strong man from a traveling carnival.

i actually do submission wrestling im training to compete at the NAGA world championships with a few members from our team im going to give the BW workouts a try similar to the ones matt furey has in his book combat conditioning i actually would love to keep posting my progress in training on this forum so i can constantly get updates or advice that can help me fine tune my weaknesses and peak for the tournament

Read up more on the conjugate system/westside… all the variables you need to train in-season are already there in it.

Most important thing like ericka said is just to listen to your body. Depending where you train, if at a college they should have this for you already- get the athletic trainer to give a massage once a week. Really helps recovery.

in season, i didn’t do much other than max lift on the big 3, and then just rep out for one set of a light weight with the big 3. 3 days a week. Just to keep strength up. The rest of the time was spent on conditioning.

You should know this yourself. MMA/Wrestling the key is who can keep stay the freshest. Your mind works better fresh.

if you can out work your opponent- you can out think your opponent…and you can defeat your opponent.

Think Dan Gable.

My advice, do sort of a 3x3 program, just keeping your max strength levels up, and concentrate on your conditioning and technique in season. Out of season put on those pounds of strength.

Hell you can increase ur strength mid season too that way. But you’ll also be able to stay in your weight class.

Check out Chad Waterbury’s Strength Focused Mesocycle too. That might be a bit too much plus conditioning work. All depends.

Again, listen to your body.

oh and if you do choose to westside …every other week throw in a ME (maximal effort) Pulling day rather than ME bench day.

so do weighted pullups, rack pulls, bent rows, stuff like that.

It’ll help you in the clinch.

bah i need to remember stuff and NOT have to post 3x…

but furey’s stuff isnt well organized…not to mention he’s a douche… his marketing practices are questionable…if anything check out my good friend Fish’s material.

The stuff is free and guaranteed to TOAST you.

He’s fought mma and was a navy diver… went through about 3 days of Hell Week before he couldn’t bend his left leg :stuck_out_tongue:

He helped Egan Inoue Train for his last fight or two.

check it out

Xen: I Agree with you on all points re: Furey. I AM NOT recommending his products be purchased - AT ALL. THey are way overpriced, the info is easily obtainable for free -he was the one who thought up charging big $$ for it- and his marketing claims put 99% of supplement companies to shame.

Also, all his athletic achievements came from using weights.

BUt, that doesn’t mean the exercises aren’t valid, CHTDRMN.

I would highly recommend to you purchasing Ross Enamait’s programs.
His stuff is the absolute most complete and well put-together stuff on the market.
NO ONE has more exercises of all kinds than he does, and no one provides more routines in their book.

Plus, he doesn’t charge you to visit his forum, which he actively participates in.

BTW, I have met Matt and he’s a nice enough guy. But as everybody agrees on, its how he does business and his ridiculous claims that are going to be his downfall.

Here is a ferocious critique of Furey’s products and methods

“All throughout the world you will see that animals in the wild are in far better shape than human beings…how do these animals get into this kind of condition? They do it by working with their own body weight…If an athlete wants to get the most out of himself, it is a good idea to copy the way of the animal” - Matt Furey, from the back cover of Combat Conditioning.

And there’s me thinking that Beer, McDonald’s, Doritos and sitting on your arse in front of a Playstation was to blame for portly peons. So…, exercise, eat n sleep like a gorilla and you’ll get strong like one right? It worked for Tarzan didn’t it? (and he really existed didn’t he?) Before you pop out and start rolling around in your shrubbery and scoffing ants, shoots and the odd small mammal, just do some pressups, freehand squats and back bridges and you’ll have nailed it. And that, dear SFUKers, is basically the entire gist of the book.

Intro: Muscles by Post: Mail Order Physical Culture History:

Charles Atlas. Remember him? He’s the one in the back of your old Spiderman comics clenching his fists in his leopard print pants. Atlas made a mint. Preying on adolescents’ insecurities (bullying, lack of girlfriends, general weedyness) with super hyped ad copy , Atlas sold them a series of bodybuilding courses based on simple bodyweight exercises. He even chucked in some bonus ‘self defence’ material.

The genius was that, despite having built his physique by lifting weights, Atlas’s mail order course required no equipment. Perfect because if you were 14 and had a body like PeeWee Herman, you didn’t even have to step foot outside your own bedroom to train. You emerge all beefed up (well, in your dreams you did) like the superheros in the comics Atlas targeted. No equipment meant that anyone could do it and importantly Atlas didn’t have to spend a dime on manufacturing any equipment! An where did Atlas claim he got his inspiration? Watching animals in Brooklyn Zoo!

Then, the last stroke of genius was to price it high. Atlas’s course cost $30 in depression era America. That’s big money. The high price gave it an aura. Surely it must have been special to justify that price no? For years the course sold shiploads, but peetered out when trainees embraced weight training as the bodybuilding tool of choice.

So, cheesey hyped ads, no equipment bodyweight exercises, ‘animal inspiration’ and a high price. Ring any bells?


Do you remember when the Mini Metro was renamed the Rover 100? Same car - different name.

Furey took ancient, popular exercises, Dands and Bethaks and called them Hindu Pushups and Squats (invoking the legendary Indian wrestler Gama and rubbing off some credibilty by association) , bundled with the wrestler’s bridge and named The Royal Court.

Now mix with canny soundbites squeezed from the Pro-Wrestler, Karl Gotch and there was a recipe to reel in the punters. Ah, the whiff of Gotch and Gama was a masterstroke.

Now athletes have been training with their body weight forever. Pushups, squats, handstands, bridges, whatever. A squat is a squat isn’t it? The British Army have traditionally prepared our troops for battle with bodyweight exercises, pushups, burpees, running etc. You can pick up a copy of an army PT course anywhere. Has Matt Furey discovered a better way to Combat Conditioning than the Marines or SAS? Is a ‘Hindu’ squat much better than a bog-standard one? Is there anything in the book that’s much better than the calisthenics taught in your local Judo , wrestling, boxing or gymnastics club? What makes Furey’s body weight exercises so special?

Have a think about it.

Will Combat Conditioning really do what Furey claims on his website? Including:

  You'll burn fat and blow-torch off excess body weight so quickly that you can literally eat more than you normally do and still look better than ever.
  You'll pack on and chisel functional muscle onto your legs, chest and back that you've never had before, even from weights. 

Is this comic book hype justified?

Burn fat? Blow-torch off excess weight? Well any exercise burns fat doesn’t it? Curiously enough, Furey uses the photograph of himself posing in front of the waterfall to promote his book. He looks in great shape - but the photo was taken when he was still an avid weight trainer, long before he’d met Karl Gotch and been inspired to write Combat Conditioning. On the actual CC book cover, Furey appears a lot fatter after having trained in Combat Conditioning.

Will Combat Conditioning burn fat better than weightlifting? (or even conventional cardio work?) Have a look at these elderly weightlifters, Dragan Radovic , Clarence Bass and Dr Len Schwartz and see what you think.

Pack on more muscle than with using weights? Does Furey look much bigger after Combat Conditioning? Can you hear the patter of orange feet as bodybuilders abandon their weights for pushups? Er, c’mon now…well just try it. Go practice Hindu squats till you can do 500, 1000, whatever. Do it for a few months. Then try 20 reps with a plain ol’ barbell squat with at least 1.5 x bodyweight in the classic style as outlined by Rader, McCallum, Strossen, Leistner, McRobert and Kelso. Again, train with weights for a few months. See what happens. Go on.

Perhaps there’s a clue in the subjective word ‘functional’. Is it a caveat? Maybe by adding that little word to the phrase ‘packing on muscle’ means it now somehow doesn’t refer to pure muscle size?

Does somehow doing hindu squats add ‘functional’ muscle, whereas barbell squats do not? Presumably it depends what function you’re after. The legendary runner, Haile Gebrselassie’s ‘functional’ muscle needs are different to Olympic weightlifting champ, Dmitry Beretov’s. Both you could argue are exceptionally strong at their particular sports. Would you tell Beretov that he could build more ‘functional muscle’ by training without weights? Or convince Gebrselassie that Hindu Squats would give his legs a ‘functional’ advantage over his current regime?

Olympic Gold medalist and 3 Time US Olympic Head Coach, Dan Gable pumping iron

Perhaps the word ‘functional’ applies to Furey’s background sport of wrestling? Matt was fortunate enough to train under all-time-great wrestler and coach, Dan Gable. Gable was, and is, held in awe for his ball-busting dedication to strength and conditioning, not just for himself, but for all wrestlers that trained under him. Gable’s recipe for success? Pushups, situps, chins, rope climbs and plenty of weight lifting. Yep, Gable is a staunch advocate of weight training. As was Furey, who used to regularly pen wonderful articles about the benefits of hoisting iron. The articles he wrote for Brooks Kubik’s Dinosaur Files spring immediately to mind. Lift weights standing up and lift three times a week, Furey cheerfully admonished to all who’d listen.

So Combat Conditioning must be great for Furey to deliberately turn his back on Gable’s mix of weights + calisthenics? The mix that Gable used to produce 4 Olympic Gold Medalist’s, 15 NCAA Championships and 78 individual wrestling champions. (not to mention the countless other elite athletes that use weightlifting successfully in their training).

Or maybe weights+calisthenic courses are too normal, too Men’s Health mag, too dime-a-dozen, and would have much more sales competition in the fitness marketplace?

'Course it may not be a cynical money-for-old-rope marketing exercise at all, but simply that Furey has found that not-lifting-weights is best for him, and that’s perfectly okay.

Anyway, if you can somehow ignore Furey’s site’s faintly vomit inducing sales patter, then what you get is a good book. The exercises, all 47 of them are good. There’s The Royal Court, 6 extra, very simple, routines and a 4 page Q&A. Plus the obligatory ads.

Furey doesn’t give much guidance on training frequency or rep volume. How many reps? Er, as many as you feel like. How often? Erm, whenever. Furey is a very talented scribe and the writing is pretty straight forward in the book and actually far less cheesey than some authors out there.

If you’re looking for a secret, there isn’t one. Calisthenics are great. Do 'em. Get fit. Simple.


There’s something wonderfully minimalist about training without equipment. It’s cheap, clutter-free , natural and most of all, effective. Indubitably Matt Furey does deserve props for the publicity he’s generated for calisthenics. Many ‘fitness gurus’ have jumped on his coat tails, some, adopting his comic book advertising style too. The sales rhetoric is awful, but you could argue it’s only following the grand tradition of naff bodybuilding hype - Atlas, Hoffman et al. Remember, Furey is the man that also wrote the “How to make $1 Million a Year as a Fitness Professional” study course. That’s a get-rich-quick scheme isn’t it? Anyone fancy forking out $497 for Gama Fitness? Anyone?

Moore’s Law says that computing speeds and densities double every 18 months. In other words, every 18 months we can buy a computer that is twice as fast and has twice as much memory for the same cost

Combat Conditioning is a decent book but it’s rather like buying an old computer. You can get all the exercises and more for free from the links below and you’ll get twice as much info for the same money from Ross Enamait’s Underground Warrior Fitness book and more exercises, more routines plus diet info from Dr Tamir Katz’s 4 dollar Ebook.

Alternatively sit yourself down at the zoo, imbibe the animal wisdom and some day you too could be like George of the Jungle.


Wish I would have read that before I bought his book.