You step out from a cold, overcast winter day into the gymnasium for your first wrestling match of the season. Inside, the familiar smells and sounds remind you of why you love this sport and why you’ve been waiting all year to get on the mat and compete. In this moment, are you completely confident or a little scared? It probably depends on how you spent the off-season.
Some of your peers might be concerned with getting or looking bigger in the gym, but moving up a weight class with only a marginal increase in strength could be disastrous for a wrestler! Therefore, stick to heavy weights and low reps. About 5 reps per set is a good sweet spot, or you may want to up the weight to something you can only lift 3 times per set. But 8 reps per set is the absolute maximum here. If you can do more than 8, you probably aren’t lifting heavy enough.
Having the proper equipment on while lifting is important. Wrestling shoes actually have many of the same properties as specialized lifting shoes (thin soles, especially), so feel free to lift in yours. You may desire gloves to protect your hands and increase grip, or a lifting belt to protect your back as well.
Few sports demand as much stamina as wrestling. No matter how skilled or strong he is, a “gassed” wrestler is completely at the mercy of his opponent. Build that lung capacity and cardiovascular response by running. No light jogs or leisurely strolls will do. Keep a solid pace and make use of inclines outdoors or on the treadmill to build up strength in your legs.
Interval running, while very challenging, is a good idea. Start by jogging 2 minutes and then sprinting 10 seconds. Repeat until you can’t do any more. As your body adapts, you can increase the intervals spent sprinting.
Having their off-season during the summer can be dangerous for wrestlers because many students will want to enjoy their summer and spring breaks the same way their peers do—lounging around in the sun and eating whatever their friends and family happen to throw on the grill. The dedicated wrestler realizes that this is the moment to shoot ahead of the competition by building both strength and stamina and maintaining that healthy diet.