Strong Wrestler - High School Off Season Workout Program

Welcome to the "Strong Wrestler" workout program.  This program is intended for high school wrestlers (typically grades 8-12) looking to build brute strength and crazy endurance for the sport of wrestling.  

Train Like an Athlete, not a Bodybuilder...

The Strong Wrestler workout program looks to help you build your strength and endurance in ways that will be beneficial during a wrestling match.  All too often, strength coaches will have their athletes perform stationary, isolation exercises to build strength.  While this is better than not working out at all, it is not the ideal way to build strength, stamina and mental toughness.  We want our kids to train like athletes, not bodybuilders.  Standing around doing concentration curls will never happen in this program.  We will be focusing mainly on compound exercises with explosive movement patterns.  Our conditioning will include some running, but we will look to get most of our conditioning through shorter circuits that utilize plyometrics, barbells, kettlebells and sprinting.

Training Philosophy

  1. Strong Legs
    Strong legs will give us an immediate advantage. In order to get the strongest legs possible, we will be squatting three times per week. Along with squats, we will perform walking lunges 4-5x/wk. There is no better endurance exercise we can do for sport and GPP (General Physical Preparedness) than walking lunges. Strong knees, hamstrings and glutes and connective tissue. We’ll aim to complete 400m of walking lunges each session.
    *The lunges may be the single most important part of this entire program.  Do not skip them!

  2. Metabolic Conditioning
    Wrestling is like no other sport in that it requires you to constantly recruit large muscle groups while under fatigue. We will replicate this as close as possible in the weight room by utilizing barbells, kettlebells, pull-ups, squats and Olympic lifts along with running and plyometric drills as part of our conditioning. We will combine these movements in as many combinations and time domains as we can think of. Routine is the enemy. We need to be able to be at 100% strength with our heart rate sky-high.  

  3. Resistance Conditioning
    While I have nothing against running, the Strong Wrestler philosophy believes you would be better served by being able to squat your body weight for 15 reps in conjunction with 200m sprints while under fatigue as opposed to being able to run 3 miles.  I am going to call this concept "Resistance Conditioning" - conditioning your body to perform under fatigue while performing resistance movements.  Again, we're wrestlers, not distance runners.  Our conditioning will be strength, stamina and endurance...not simply endurance.  The majority of a wrestling match will be spent with some form of resistance on you (him pushing on you, you pushing him) and that is how we need to train on and off the mat.

  4. Mental Toughness
    These workouts are going to be brutal – it’s a given. But while we’re lying on the floor trying to catch our breath with our lungs burning a hole in our chest wondering how we’re going to walk again, we can be confident that 99.9% of our opponents are not training like we are. This is where we separate ourselves from everyone else.

  5. Avoid Injury at all cost
    We want to avoid injuries at all costs. It is better to miss one rep or one workout than to go down with an injury and miss months of training. Work hard, but be smart and use good form at all times.

Month Long Workout Program

The following workout plan is intended for varsity wrestlers training in the off season. Typically we suggest the athletes who follow this program will be at a minimum 8th graders.

Required Equipment

The equipment required to follow the Strong Wrestler workout program is as follows:

  • Barbell and plates
  • Squat Rack
  • Bench Press Bench
  • Kettlebells (or dumbbells)
  • Bumper Plates (not required, but definitely a nice to have)
  • Plyo Boxes (can sub by just hopping over a bench)

Get Started!

To get started, click on "Workout 1" in the table of contents.  Be sure to read the Strong Wrestler FAQ here.

*If you are on a phone, the Table of Contents is at the bottom...keep scrolling!


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  • All valid points and thanks for the feedback.

    1.  It was developed as an off-season program.

    2.  As far as conditioning progress, we would hope most serious wrestlers would be working out or drilling during the off season - they should notice their conditioning during drilling and live wrestling improve.  ie: they don't get as tired.

    3.  I am considering a deload week before starting another cycle and am currently working on the "Next 30 day program"

    4.  Nutrition - this also is in the works and will be modeled after the Zone Diet.  Along with the base nutrition plan, I also will be covering topics like eliminating soda, sugar and drinking plenty of water.

  • I like it. A couple of comments/thoughts:

    1. Is this a in season or off season program?

    2. How are you planning on tracking progress for conditioning? I can see how it can be done with weights - move from 220 squat to 250 and here is your progress, but how do you track conditioning? What is the most important metric for conditioned wrestler? I would think it is the resting heart rate vs. heart rate during the load vs. the heart rate 1 min after the end of the load. But this is something you may need to clarity with other wrestling coached.

    3.  How are you going to address prioritization?  It is very difficult to sustain this kind of level of intensity especially at younger ages. I don't remember where I saw this article but it suggested the following approach:

    5 weeks cycle:

    1 week - preparing (increasing the load gradually)

    2-4 weeks - load (high training volume)

    5 weeks - unload (decreasing the volume to stimulate recovery)

    Weekly cycle:

    1. 3 heavy development days - heavy load

    2. 2-3 lower volume days

    3. 1 rest day

    4. I am 100% confident you will provide solid nutrition advice for the kids.  Have you thought about adding a block about recovery? For example the importance of sleep? How to ensure the quality of sleep? Potential issues with sleep and how to solve them?

    These are just a few things that came to mind. I really like how you combined lifting and conditioning but yet separated them into different blocks. I think this is really good. Also really liked that you suggest the use of compound moves over isolation work.