Unless you were at the state tournament this past weekend, your wrestling season has been over for at least a week. During this last week you could have spent your time doing any number of postseason celebrations. Eating large dinners with no concern about weight, staying up late and sleeping in later, as well as going straight home after school to relax. All that is good and necessary for the body and mind to regather themselves from the several long months of intense training. This time of rest does not last forever though. For you wrestlers who are serious competitors, chances are this feeling did not even last more than a week. You are already thinking about how to avenge losses, what camps to go to, what freestyle and greco tournaments you want to do, etc. This article will help you identify your weaknesses, find proper places to train, how to eat, and ultimately, how to make the most of out this offseason so you can be an even greater wrestler next season.
Before you even take your first steps back into the wrestling room, you need to clearly set and identify your goals. Visualize what you want to achieve next season. Maybe it is to stay on the Varsity line up, or never get pinned, or qualify for Masters. The goals you set for the next season, build the framework for how you tackle this off season. Do not go into the wrestling room without a purpose. Do not go into the weight room without a purpose. Set a goal, visualize yourself achieving that goal while you put in the work to get there.
The first thing you can always do to become a better wrestler is to actually wrestle. Get some friends who are experienced wrestlers together and wrestle at the park, or in the living room. Having a training partner you can practice technique with will make you both better and give you an edge against the competition. Practice all the moves you suck at or want to get better at. Look at technique videos and drill, drill, drill. Carey Kolat is a legendary wrestler and has a vast technique library on his YouTube channel.
Some schools have a wrestling club that practices and competes in the off season. I am located in Sacramento, and there is just about a wrestling club at every high school in the area. I am a strength and conditioning consultant, and JV wrestling coach for Roseville High School who has over the years developed a very experienced and large wrestling club that practices and lifts weights several times a week in the off season. If you are in the Roseville, CA area feel free to reach out to me on how you can join the wrestling club.
Another option is to attend wrestling clinics and wrestling camps. I had the pleasure of attending several camps and clinics over the course of my wrestling career. Some of my bread and butter techniques that I still use in BJJ today were learned at these clinics or camps. Camps and clinics do cost a decent amount of money to attend. If you don’t have to money, you can WORK. Working won’t kill you. If you are in high school, you are plenty old enough to get a job. Mow lawns, wash cars, walk dogs, etc. Someone is always willing to pay a young kid to do the work they are too old to do.
In addition to refining your technique and wrestling more, you need to get stronger. No matter what your weight is, your skill level, win/loss record, you still need to get stronger. Mark Bell has a very famous quote that I wish I applied to my off season training. Bell famously says, “Strength is never a weakness.” You can never be too strong. Sure you can be short on conditioning, but you can never be too strong. Get STRONG. Lift heavy weights several times a week. Do squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, pull ups, bent over rows, farmer walks, push ups, dips, etc. That being said, don’t skip out on your conditioning maintenance. Do some sprint intervals about 1-2x/week. Keep in mind how I said sprint. You wrestle for six minutes, not 30. There’s little need for you to go on these crazy long runs if your main goal is to get as strong as possible this off season. Do anywhere between 10-20 rounds of sprint work per workout/week. This is actually my favorite part of training wrestlers. My ultimate passion is to help them get stronger for the next season. I train wrestlers to become stronger and bigger season after season, while still being in a competitive weight class. Just like you should find a training partner to drill with, find a training partner to lift with. You can push each other and keep each other accountable to stay disciplined and train.
You want to find a gym that has Olympic barbells and dumbbells of varying weights. Using only machines will never make you as strong as REAL weight. I have trained out of my garage for many years and I do not have any weight machines. I have barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, rings, pull up bars, bands, etc. All my clients use this equipment and get stronger. No machines needed. I am in no way saying machines are bad for you. Machines are great for other sports and training needs. But if you want to get strong, use the tools that give you the biggest bang for your buck.
I specialize in training wrestlers both in season and during the off season. For more information on programs, 1-on-1 and group training sessions at my facility, email me at email@example.com for schedule and pricing.
In addition to all the wrestling and lifting you need to be EATING. You are no longer in season so there is no need to stay in your weight class. Do not gain an excessive amount of body fat, but gain some weight. Put some some quality size and muscle. To do that you need to eat. You can’t build a tank out of aluminum foil, and you can not build a strong and powerful wrestler with junk food. Eat lean meats, eggs, drink milk, lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some fruit. Stay away from soda, breads, pastas, chips, fast food and processed sugars. It will take discipline. It will be difficult at first, but if you are serious about becoming a better wrestler next season, you will need to sacrifice things like junk food to do it.
When I train wrestlers in the off season, I also provide them specific nutritional guides to help them build the muscle they want to build, develop the conditioning they need, and put on the size they are looking for. For more information on eating clean for size and strength, you can look at some of my other articles in regards to nutrition, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further questions.
With these three tips in mind, go attack and take advantage of this off season! I made the biggest improvements during the off season, not during the season. I made a lot of mistakes during my off seasons, which I will talk about in the next article. For more information on strength and conditioning for wrestling athletes, follow me on Instagram at @settlagestrength. To see my daily workouts and lifestyle focused around #dailydiscipline, follow my personal account @joshuasettlage.
For personalized wrestling training programs, nutrition guides for both strength gain and fat loss, 1-on-1 and group training sessions, feel free to email me at email@example.com for a consultation.