Here’s my response with some background for my opinion:
The only studies I have ever seen correlating strength with wrestling success demonstrated a correlation with both grip strength and deadlift. It was unclear whether the wrestling succes was in folkstyle or freestyle or Greco.
My feeling is that conditioning, in terms of endurance, is best done by hard wrestling followed by “brief” (10-15 minutes) of intense non -wrestling interval type training 2 - 3 times per week. EXAMPLE: At the end of practice, I will have kids wrestle periods of varying duration (1 minute to 6 minute “rounds” in the early season and 30 second to 2 minute rounds in the late season) with rest intervals of varying duration.
This is more or less interval type training. We will probably do this for 15-30 minutes depending on the stage of the season and day of the week. Especially towards the end of the season, I don’t want any “reps” where their technique deteriorates. (OK, sometimes I will push beyond this level for “mental” training, but it’s an exception.)
I will immediately follow with non-wrestling drills that push them beyond what they mentally think they can do. This is so that crappy technique (they will get pushed so hard that technique breaks down) is done on non-wrestling “moves” rather than having them develop bad habits on wrestling moves.
These non-wrestling drills will include sprints, tire flips, sandbag carries, up-downs, etc. DON’T DO THIS EVERY DAY! Intensity needs to increase and volume decrease as the season progresses. Be sure to back off a week or so before states.
- Strength training (MY OPINION): Twice per week. 2-3 lifts max each day. Compound, multi joint exercises. I prefer deadlifts, front squats, standing press, push press, chins (or variation - my favorite is parallel grip chins), barbell rows, and cleans.
NOTE: I usually pick 2 or 3 exercises from this list NOT every exercise every workout and I change do different exercises on the 2 days each week and change exercises and set/rep patterns every 2-3 weeks. Since these workouts focus on maintaining strength (that was hopefully built up during the off-season) I work low reps (5 or less).
Since they are already getting a great deal of total body workout volume from the wrestling, I also keep sets low, usually 2-3 work sets, but sometimes during the early season I’ll use 5 sets working up as we go (in the style off Bill Starr’s “Big Three” program) and I’ll usually throw in days where we just warm up then do singles especially on things like DL, Cleans, Push Press and Squat.
Mentally, the kids seem to enjoy this and it seems we recover easier than days withe sets of 5 reps. As far as the days of the week, we don’t like to lift the day of or the day before a hard match (although one kid may have a hard match and another an easy match, so we look at this on a team basis especially if it will be a critical match in terms of conference placing.
I don’t mind an individual kid having a harder than normal match because we lifted that day if it fits in with our goals for the season, ie winning state as a team and an individual). If a kid is already warmed up from wrestling a 6 minute match at home, I have no problem with having an asst coach in the weight room and having the kid get in a few sets of DL and presses after a brief rest.
This makes more sense to me than having him lift the next day and then having less time to recover before a critical match. Rememeber to taper a week or two before states or regionals. The last week or two is not when you want to fry everyone’s CNS!