Adolescent Wrestling And Strengthening Program

teen wrestling strengthening program
Since your wrestler teen son is very eager to put on some muscle mass, his exercises should be primarily compound exercises involving several large muscle groups such as various squats, deadlift, chest presses, pullups, rows, lat pulldowns, shoulder presses, lunges, etc. His repetition scheme should begin at 12-15 reps per set with perfect form to gain a base of muscular endurance and hypertrophy. Throughout his 12 week periodized training program he will slowly reduce the number of repetitions and increase the resistance every week or two depending on his progress to transition his workout goals to strength/hypertrophy. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, hypertrophy is best accomplished using a 6-12 repetition range per exercise, using 67-85% of 1 Repetition Max resistance, and only taking 30-90 second breaks in between sets. Chris’s exact repetitions, resistance, and rest times will be more based on his individual progress and workout experience so these are just guideline numbers. Towards the end of his 12 weeks, he will transition to more of a strength/power focus with a strength focus of <6 repetitions per set, 2-5 minutes rest between sets, at 80-95% of 1 Repetition Max resistance. 

After a base of general fitness and hypertrophy, he will progress his exercises to be more sports specific (free-weights instead of machines, alternating presses, single legged exercises, explosive exercises, bodyweight exercises) to prepare for wrestling. Power focus will involve progressive plyometrics such as medicine ball passes and clap pushups and Olympic lifts with 1-5 repetitions per set, 80-90% 1 Repetition Max resistance (to promote lifting large loads at top velocity), and 2-5 minutes between sets. Because of his young age and susceptibility to certain joint injuries (little league elbow for example), his Olympic Lifts will be done with light weight and perfect technique, heavy weight will be discouraged just like it will be for compound lifts. Major compound exercises are now in the 3-6 repetition range at the end of his 12 weeks to promote strength and power. Assuming Chris is peaking for wrestling at the end of the 12 weeks, Chris will be fully trained in the explosive Olympic Lifts (snatches, cleans and jerks) that will give him the ballistic strength and power needed for several movements in the sport of wrestling. These exercises greatly improve overall body power and have excellent carryover into the sport for movements such as takedowns, reversals, and escapes. At the end of his 12 weeks Chris will have major increases in muscle hypertrophy that will be maintained and also vastly increased strength and power for his sport/

Throughout his 12 week workout plan, Chris will also be doing maintenance exercises to ensure injury prevention and rehabilitation. Common injuries in wrestling include damage to the elbow, shoulder, neck, and knee joints so the muscles around this joint must be strengthened and stretched constantly. Prehab exercises for these joints include various bicep curls and tricep extensions for the elbows, lots of rotator cuff exercises (internal and external rotations) and deltoid exercises for the shoulders, 4-way partner neck exercises for neck strength, several core stabilization/abdominal/spinal erector exercises to ensure trunk and spinal health and protection, and finally one-legged exercises (Single Leg Deadlifts, Single Leg Squats) as well as leg extensions and leg curls for knee stability and strengthening. His workouts should come after a general warmup that raises the body temperature (jog or bike for a few minutes) followed by a more dynamic warmup of light plyometrics and dynamic stretches. His workouts will end with thorough static stretching for flexibility improvements/maintenance and a possible reduction in Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). 

He may also use a lacrosse ball or a foam roller before and after a workout if there is time for myofascial release which is suggested to help promote blood flow, break up scar tissue, and reduce DOMS.

Because of the nature of wrestling (3 minute bouts with 1 minute of rest in between rounds, then a final round of a couple minutes), he needs to also train like it is a wrestling competition. He should incorporate portions of his workouts to involve 3 minutes of high intensity low/no rest lifting and plyometrics or cardio intervals followed by 1 minute of rest/water/stretching to emulate a match setting. 

These 3 minute interval bouts may be done after power exercises and heavy compound exercises are completed and done with lighter weight than normal, stressing excellent technique as always to prevent injury risk or bad habits.

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