Question: Jay, wrestling season is almost over and I have a few guys lined up to come in after the season. I have a general idea of what I want to do with them, but just wanted to see if you have any special considerations for these guys.
Right now, my plan of attack is:
3-4 week recovery period with lots of SMR, stretching, rehabbing nagging injuries and imbalances, and bodyweight work
Off-season training- work a lot of strength work with submaximal weights, explosiveness with jumps, med ball work, and Olympic lifts (dumbbell only). Also work on muscular endurance with bodyweight, strongman, and sled work. Will also be using Fat Gripz a lot, grip strength (as you know) is very important for combat athletes (and any athlete at that)
1.5-2 months before next season- start working in more conditioning and progress a LOT slower on the maximal strength. Also by staying in touch with the coach I will be able to know where he wants the athletes as far as weight class goes. This will help me help them get to whatever weight class they need in the safest way possible (as opposed to the stupid shit coaches usually have the kids doing)
Season- drop sessions to 2x a week, lots of recovery work, SMR, stretching, mobility, etc. Also try to maintain strength levels and conditioning, but minimal improvement will be expected.
That’s all I’ve got right now, let me know if you would change anything or have any other suggestions. Thanks again as always.
Answer: Looks good.
The tricky part about training any athlete whose sport demands some type of power endurance, like wrestlers, is that you sacrifice some explosiveness when training for this goal. Any type of endurance work will negatively affect power.
I prefer guys to be strong and explosive. If they are strong every move they make will require less effort. This right there improves endurance. Sometimes, if you have an athlete who has no issues at with conditioning your best bet is to keep everything in the 3-6 rep range. That way you don’t sacrifice power.
If, however, they need conditioning then you have to make the sacrifice. I’d still prefer, as much as possible to keep the reps low and just give them a brief, 10-30 second rest period between sets. Of course, some longer duration sets here and there will be a necessity but I’d rather do that with strongman work then traditional exercises.
Two hard strength training days and one or two hard, properly designed conditioning days is usually about right for most combat athletes. But this is a generalization, as some may do three strength workouts where the conditioning component is built in and they don’t need much more than that. Especially lighter guys. As always, you can’t go wrong with hill sprints or sled work for conditioning.
You mentioned working in more conditioning as the season nears. I prefer most conditioning for most athletes to be their sport, as much as possible, when the competitive season approaches. When you get too carried away with conditioning in the weight room towards the end I think it has a detrimental effect. Guys go in sapped of energy and feel like shit. Besides, nothing prepares you for the rigors of your sport quite like your sport.
And I actually wouldn’t progress a lot slower on maximal strength work towards the end or in season. I’d keep trying to get stronger through the season. The key is planning it correctly and not beating guys ups. Concentric only trap bar deads would be ideal. Drop the bar at the top, reset between each rep.
Don’t expect minimal improvement during the season. Guys work full time, 12 hour a day intense construction jobs and then go train and night and they get stronger. These kids should be getting stronger during the season. Maintaining is not enough.
Also, remember that there is always an art and a science of S&C. A lot of times it comes down to more the art than the science and you have to adapt as things progress. Some guys may need more conditioning, others won’t.
Unfortunately you sometimes have to train guys to pass conditioning tests or look good in the coaches eyes versus training them to actually improve their performance. My point is never let an athlete you train go into camp or preseason not in tip-top condition. It looks bad for you and makes them nervous and they will start to doubt you and themselves.
Being conservative is ALWAYS the way to go. Start with the least amount necessary and only add more when and if it’s going to help. Combat athletes have to do a lot of serious training that can take a lot out of them.
I’d never recommend not being conservative; I’m just saying that you should try to get stronger during the season. But that may only require a few sets per week. Volume should always be low during the season but intensity can remain high.
A simple in season program would be something like a few sets of jumps or Olympic pulls, then a press, pull and lower body movement for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps. Finish with some abs, neck and grip. The whole thing should take 30-45 minutes. The focus is on getting stronger and maintaining muscle mass, not necessarily conditioning. That should be covered already by mid season or you’re in trouble.
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