Strength Training for Wrestling

Strength training for wrestling is a necessity. To excel in takedowns, escapes, and maintaining control on the mat, wrestlers require a rock-solid core. In this article, we’ll explore the top four core strength training exercises tailored specifically to meet the unique demands of wrestling.

Top 4 Core Strength Exercises For Wrestling

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Bodybuilding for Wrestling

Dynamic Trunk Control

Dynamic trunk control is a significant advantage in the sport of wrestling because it plays a crucial role in an athlete’s ability to maintain balance, generate power, and execute effective techniques. Here are several key reasons why dynamic trunk control is essential for success in wrestling:

  1. Balance and Stability:
    • Wrestling involves constant changes in position, direction, and force. Athletes need to maintain balance even when their opponent is attempting to disrupt it. Dynamic trunk control allows wrestlers to stay upright and avoid being taken down or put in a compromising position.
    • With strong trunk control, wrestlers can resist opponents’ attempts to throw or trip them, making it harder for their adversaries to gain an advantage.
  2. Core Strength and Power Generation:
    • A strong and dynamically controlled core is essential for generating power in wrestling moves. Whether it’s shooting for a takedown, executing a throw, or bridging to escape from a pin, the core muscles play a central role in transferring force from the lower body to the upper body.
    • Dynamic trunk control enables wrestlers to explosively engage their core muscles, providing them with the strength necessary to overpower their opponents.
  3. Defensive Maneuvers:
    • Wrestling often involves defensive actions such as sprawling to avoid takedowns or countering an opponent’s moves. A wrestler with good trunk control can quickly adjust their body position and react to their opponent’s actions, making it challenging for the opponent to score points.
  4. Escapes and Reversals:
    • When a wrestler is on the bottom position, they need dynamic trunk control to perform escapes and reversals. These maneuvers require a combination of core strength, flexibility, and agility to change the position and gain the upper hand.
  5. Maintaining Posture:
    • Maintaining proper posture is critical in wrestling to avoid exposing vulnerabilities to the opponent. Dynamic trunk control helps wrestlers keep their back straight and chest forward, making it more challenging for opponents to control or pin them.
  6. Transitioning Between Techniques:
    • Wrestling often involves transitioning between various techniques and moves, such as switching from a single-leg takedown attempt to a high crotch or a counterattack. Effective transitions require the ability to quickly adjust and control the trunk’s movements.
  7. Injury Prevention:
    • Strong trunk muscles and dynamic control can help prevent injuries, as they provide stability and support to the spine and surrounding structures. This reduces the risk of strains, sprains, and other wrestling-related injuries.

In summary, dynamic trunk control is a fundamental aspect of successful wrestling. It enhances balance, core strength, power generation, defensive capabilities, and overall wrestling performance. Wrestlers who develop and maintain strong trunk control have a significant advantage when it comes to winning matches and competitions.

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Mat Strength for Wrestling

Walrus Core Exercise for Wrestlers

The Walrus Core Exercise is an effective and challenging core-strengthening exercise that targets the muscles of your abdomen, lower back, and obliques. It involves holding a plank-like position with a unique twist that resembles the posture of a walrus. Here’s how to perform the Walrus Core Exercise:

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Starting Position:
    • Begin by lying face down on an exercise mat or a comfortable, padded surface.
    • Extend your arms straight out in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
    • Keep your legs extended and close together, with your toes pointing down.
  2. Engage Your Core:
    • Begin engaging your core muscles by tightening your abs and pulling your navel toward your spine. This will help protect your lower back and provide stability throughout the exercise.
  3. Raise Your Arms and Legs:
    • Simultaneously lift your arms and legs off the ground, as high as you comfortably can.
    • The goal is to create an upward arch in your torso, so your body resembles the shape of a walrus.
  4. Hold the Position:
    • Keep your arms and legs extended and parallel to the ground.
    • Try to maintain this position for a specific duration, usually 15-30 seconds, or longer as you progress and become more comfortable with the exercise.
    • Focus on breathing steadily throughout the hold. Inhale and exhale in a controlled manner to stay relaxed.
  5. Lower Back Down:
    • Gently lower your arms and legs back to the starting position, allowing your body to return to the mat.
  6. Repeat:
    • Perform the Walrus Core Exercise for your desired number of repetitions or for the prescribed duration.
    • As you become stronger and more proficient, you can gradually increase the time you hold the lifted position.


  • Keep your neck in a neutral position by looking down at the ground during the exercise to avoid straining your neck.
  • Focus on maintaining proper form and control rather than lifting your limbs too high, especially if it causes discomfort or strain.
  • If you find it challenging to hold the position for an extended period, start with shorter durations and progressively increase the time as your core strength improves.
  • Make sure to warm up before attempting this exercise to prevent injury and promote better flexibility.

The Walrus Core Exercise can be a fun and effective addition to your core workout routine. It helps strengthen your core muscles, improve posture, and enhance overall stability. As with any exercise, it’s essential to use proper form and listen to your body to avoid overexertion or injury. If you’re new to this exercise or have any underlying health concerns, consider consulting a fitness professional or healthcare provider before incorporating it into your routine.

How a Wrestler Should Use an Ab Wheel

The ab wheel exercise, also known as the ab roller exercise, is a highly effective core-strengthening exercise that targets the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and the entire core. It’s an excellent exercise for wrestlers because it replicates the overhead position that wrestlers often find themselves in during their sport. Here’s how to perform the ab wheel exercise and why it’s beneficial for wrestlers:

How to Do the Ab Wheel Exercise:

  1. Starting Position:
    • Begin by kneeling on an exercise mat or a soft surface.
    • Place the ab wheel in front of you, within arm’s reach.
    • Hold the ab wheel handles with both hands, palms facing down, and keep your arms extended in front of you.
    • Engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles.
  2. Execution:
    • Slowly roll the ab wheel forward while keeping your arms extended. As you do this, your body will begin to move forward, and you’ll feel an intense stretch in your abdominal muscles.
    • Continue rolling out until your body is nearly parallel to the ground, or you feel you can’t maintain good form. Do not let your lower back sag or your hips drop.
  3. Return to Starting Position:
    • To return to the starting position, engage your core and pull the ab wheel back toward you, using your abdominal muscles and avoiding using your lower back excessively.
    • Maintain control throughout the movement.
  4. Repetitions:
    • Perform the exercise for your desired number of repetitions, typically 10-15 reps for beginners, or as many as you can while maintaining proper form.

Benefits for Wrestlers:

  1. Overhead Position Training: Wrestlers often find themselves in overhead positions when executing throws, lifts, or defending against opponents’ attacks. The ab wheel exercise mimics this position by challenging your core from an overhead perspective, helping wrestlers build strength specific to their sport.
  2. Lat and Shoulder Lengthening: The ab wheel exercise involves extending your arms forward while rolling out, which actively stretches and lengthens the latissimus dorsi (lat) muscles and shoulders. This is beneficial for wrestlers as it complements the need for shoulder mobility and lat flexibility during overhead grappling and takedown techniques.
  3. Thoracic Extension and Dynamic Trunk Control: To execute the ab wheel exercise effectively, you need to achieve thoracic (mid-back) extension. This helps improve your posture and core stability, which are essential for maintaining control and balance during wrestling maneuvers.
  4. Overall Core Strength: The ab wheel exercise is one of the most challenging core exercises and provides a comprehensive core workout. A strong core is vital for wrestlers as it enhances their ability to resist takedowns, maintain balance, and execute powerful throws and escapes.
  5. Injury Prevention: Developing a strong core can also help prevent lower back injuries, which are relatively common in wrestling due to the physical demands and positions wrestlers frequently find themselves in.

Incorporating the ab wheel exercise into a wrestler’s training routine can significantly benefit their performance by enhancing core strength, flexibility, and stability from an overhead position. However, it’s crucial to start with proper form, perform controlled movements, and progress gradually to avoid strain or injury. Wrestlers should also consider consulting a coach or fitness professional for guidance on incorporating this exercise into their training program.

Med Ball Slam for Wrestlers

The medicine ball slam is an excellent exercise for wrestlers because it helps improve speed-strength, which is critical for dynamic trunk control in the sport. This exercise enhances explosiveness, core strength, and the ability to generate power quickly, all of which are essential for successful wrestling. Here’s how to perform a medicine ball slam and why it benefits wrestlers:

How to Do a Medicine Ball Slam:

  1. Equipment Needed:
    • You’ll need a medicine ball. The weight of the ball can vary depending on your strength level, but for beginners, a 10 to 20-pound medicine ball is a good starting point.
  2. Starting Position:
    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing forward.
    • Hold the medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest, elbows slightly bent.
    • Ensure your core is engaged, back is straight, and your shoulders are relaxed.
  3. Execution:
    • Begin by raising the medicine ball overhead, extending your arms fully.
    • In a quick and explosive motion, forcefully slam the medicine ball down to the ground in front of you.
    • As you slam the ball, bend at your hips and knees while keeping your back straight. Use your entire body to generate power for the slam.
    • Imagine driving the ball through the floor as you perform the movement.
  4. Recovery:
    • After slamming the ball, immediately bend at the hips and knees to pick it up. Keep your back straight and core engaged.
    • Once you’ve retrieved the ball, return to the starting position.
  5. Repetitions:
    • Perform the medicine ball slam for a specific number of repetitions, typically 8-12 reps in a set.
    • You can incorporate this exercise into circuit training or as part of your wrestling-specific workout routine.

Benefits for Wrestlers:

  1. Speed-Strength Development: The medicine ball slam is an explosive exercise that requires you to generate maximal force in a short amount of time. This helps wrestlers improve their speed-strength, which is crucial for rapid takedowns, escapes, and counters during matches.
  2. Dynamic Trunk Control: Dynamic trunk control is the ability to stabilize and control your core while in motion. Medicine ball slams demand a high level of trunk control as you explosively slam the ball and then quickly recover to the starting position. This directly translates to better control and balance during wrestling movements.
  3. Full-Body Engagement: This exercise engages not only your core muscles but also your legs, shoulders, and arms. Wrestlers need a strong and coordinated full-body effort to execute their techniques effectively, making the medicine ball slam a valuable addition to their training regimen.
  4. Power Development: The rapid and forceful nature of the medicine ball slam helps wrestlers develop explosive power in their core and upper body, which can be applied to various wrestling maneuvers.
  5. Endurance and Conditioning: Incorporating medicine ball slams into a conditioning routine can improve overall endurance, allowing wrestlers to maintain a high level of performance throughout a match.
  6. Injury Prevention: Strengthening the core muscles through exercises like medicine ball slams can help prevent injuries, especially in the lower back, which is vulnerable in wrestling due to the physical demands of the sport.

Wrestlers should include medicine ball slams as part of their training routine to enhance their speed-strength and dynamic trunk control. As with any exercise, it’s important to use proper form, start with a weight that’s appropriate for your fitness level, and gradually increase the intensity over time. Consult with a coach or fitness professional to ensure you’re performing this exercise correctly and safely.

Pause Front Squat Exercise for Wrestlers

The pause front squat is a valuable strength training exercise for wrestlers that targets the lower body, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles. It’s a variation of the traditional front squat that includes a brief pause at the bottom of the squat, which increases time under tension and helps build strength and stability. Here’s how to perform the pause front squat and how it transfers to strength during wrestling:

How to Do the Pause Front Squat:

  1. Equipment Needed:
    • You’ll need a barbell and a squat rack for this exercise.
    • Ensure the barbell is loaded with an appropriate weight for your fitness level.
  2. Set-Up:
    • Approach the barbell and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Position the barbell on the front of your shoulders, just above your collarbone. Cross your arms in front of you, with your hands gripping the barbell and your elbows pointed forward.
  3. Execution:
    • Unrack the barbell from the squat rack and take a step or two back to clear the rack.
    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
    • Brace your core, keep your chest up, and maintain an upright torso throughout the exercise.
  4. Squat with Pause:
    • Begin the squat by bending at your hips and knees, lowering your body towards the ground.
    • Descend into the squat until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground, or lower if your mobility allows.
    • Hold the bottom position of the squat for a brief pause (1-3 seconds). During this pause, focus on maintaining good form and tension in your muscles.
    • After the pause, push through your heels to stand back up, returning to the starting position.
  5. Repetitions:
    • Perform the pause front squat for your desired number of repetitions, typically 5-8 reps per set, depending on your strength and training goals.
    • Rest between sets as needed.

How Front Squat Strength Transfers to Wrestling:

  1. Leg Strength: The pause front squat primarily targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, which are essential for powerful leg drive in wrestling. Stronger leg muscles help wrestlers execute takedowns, maintain control in various positions, and resist opponent’s takedown attempts.
  2. Core Stability: The front squat places a significant demand on your core muscles to maintain an upright torso and balance the barbell. This enhances core stability, which is vital for wrestlers as they need to resist opponents’ efforts to control their upper body.
  3. Hip Mobility: The deep squat position in front squats improves hip mobility, which is beneficial for executing throws, escapes, and maintaining agility during matches.
  4. Balance and Control: Holding the barbell in the front squat position requires balance and control, similar to the dynamic trunk control required in wrestling. This exercise helps wrestlers develop better balance, which can be advantageous in maintaining position and avoiding takedowns.
  5. Functional Strength: Front squatting mimics some of the body mechanics used in wrestling, such as lifting and controlling an opponent’s weight. The strength developed in front squats translates directly to the physical demands of wrestling.
  6. Injury Prevention: Strengthening the muscles and joints used in front squats can help prevent lower body injuries, which are common in wrestling due to the physical nature of the sport.

Incorporating pause front squats into a wrestler’s strength training routine can significantly improve their lower body strength, core stability, and overall wrestling performance. As with any exercise, it’s crucial to start with a weight that’s appropriate for your fitness level and focus on proper form to maximize the benefits and minimize the risk of injury. Wrestlers should consider working with a coach or strength and conditioning professional to ensure they are performing this exercise correctly.

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Explosive Wrestling Strength Training

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