T Nation

Wrestling Specific

Im a collegiate level wrestler and am looking to increase my FUNCTIONAL strength, dont get me wrong I like looking good naked to but I am more concerned with being able to manhandle 200 pound men (no jokes needed). During the season I follow a routine of bodyweight exercies that keep me in great shape and very lean, however I have about 5 months before i need to starting getting back down to my fighting weight(197 lbs.) and in the mean time i want to get as strong as possible, im fairly tall, about 6’1, so theres alot of room for muscle on my frame, i was wondering what exercises are best for brute strenght as well as stimulatng growth. right now i tend to stick to bench, deads and squats…anything im missing?

You question made me think about Matt Furey. He wrote a book called “Combat Conditioning”- and I believe I know this from T-Mag. You could look it up via the search engine (which I’m about to do). Has anyone else seen this article or read the book? I’m part of Matt’s newsletter that’s emailed twice monthly. It’s filled with exercises dealing with “functional strength”. Could be right up your alley.

For brute strength and size I would say start reading up on Dave Tate, and westside methods. If you decide to go this way, you may want to do various rowing movement for Dynamic Effort Day and Maximum Effort Day instead of bench in order to say more specific with the movements in wrestling. If you want to read up more on these methods check out elitefitnesssystems.com

I’m entirely in the same boat as you, bud. One word. Grip. And lots of it. I highly recommend to-the-chest chinups (I’ve seen Trish recommend them to other people). As well, if you have a few months, start swimming to improve your lung power. It won’t build mass, but the water pressure is good for aerobic power.

What I’m doing - but this is totally an experiment - is trying to move my 4RM up to 3 x 10 reps and eventually make it a 20RM. I’m not interested in powerlifting because eccentric strength is pretty durned useful in wrestling. Easing a car down-hill is a good way to build eccentric endurance {get in front and slow it down while it rolls. Even better, stop the car. Take a step back. Stop the car, repeat}.

Finally, work stabilizers! I do this on my lactic threshold week (high reps). Grip the bar a bit off center and do the movement (switch the off-center direction every set!)

In addition to what El_Machinae said, do ALL types of chinning including chinning from a rope to improve functional grip and try to improve chinning indurance by stopping reps in a set before failure (save a couple in the hole) but then after a 1 min rest repeat another set of chins and keep repeating sets over and over. Try to build up more sets, more so than more reps (though more reps are good too). Lots and lots of chininng (from a rope, narrow grip, wide grip, reverse grip, etc) and also do the same for pushups and bicycle crunches to improve indurance strength which is more important than brute strength in wrestling. Good luck.


I wrote the article on CC for t-mag and have been doing CC for a few years now combined with KB lifting.


I would start doing some sandbar lifting. Go to the hardware store and purchase 4 50lb sand bags. Start off with 2 bags in a duffel bag and if that is too easy, use another 50lbs. Do exercises such as cleans presses and cleaning the bag to each shoulder. The bag is really awkward to handle (just like a person) and will have a tremendous carry over to wrestling.

Also, I have been doing kettlebell lifting which really increases ballistic strength and brute strength which carries over to wrestling as well.

Mike Mahler

Ooo, good ones! Now to fit them into training …
Heb, I really like the alternate grip stuff - esp rope. Getting really think rope would work even better.
That sandbag stuff looks good too. Crap and sigh, how do I fit all this into my maxed-out training???

All of these are good answers but i think CC is best. You have to do combat conditioning (Matt Furey is the best one here). Its real important to be able to handle your body weight because that is the best way to build funtional conditioned strength. it sounds ridiculous but i gained tons of useful strength from this.

If you don’t have a rope for chinning, try doubling a heavy bath towel in half in then lay it over the center of your chinning bar and grab ahold of both sides - works about the same.

I find that the laughter my “Winni the Pooh” towel gets also helps maintain the focus I’d need for wrestling.

Thanks, Mike for providing that info! :wink:
I’m not a wrestler, but am into the martial arts (karate), and functional strength is very important there too. I prefer combining both weight training and functional strength skills in my routine. Not at the same time, mind you. But train with weights in the gym and at home, play around with the functional strength stuff. Plus, I think that stuff is much more fun to do.