Incorporating weight lifting into a busy fighting season can be tricky and should be done with caution. A program designed to produce strength gains often involves heavy lifting and should include at least a few repetition maximums as trials. Due to the high demand on the athlete’s nervous system and the potential for injury that comes with lifting heavy objects, this type of program should be avoided while in the middle of a strenuous competition program. Weight training programs during fighting season should be used more to maintain muscle size and strength than to build it. In addition to all the heavy lifting, building muscle also requires additional calories; most wrestlers try to be as thin as possible during the season to gain weight and don’t eat to get bigger and stronger. In the offseason, fighters don’t have to worry about having a certain body weight, they can eat whatever they want and have more time to recover from a heavier lift. This is the best time to build muscle. In order to maintain muscles and stay in good condition, the repetition schedules for the weightlifting programs of the fight season must be higher; 8-15 with sets of 5 reps as low as they should.
For a good and safe weightlifting system during the season for wrestlers, consider the ’30 Second Program’. This is a program that requires a fully equipped weight room, but is not dependent on specific equipment. It is intended for a team of 6-10+ athletes to all train at the same time and should take no more than 30-35 minutes maximum. The program consists of a series of exercises, each performed at different stations in the gym. The athlete will perform as many reps as possible in a 30 second time period and then switch to another station. Choose at least 6-8 stations for athletes to visit with minimal rest times between stations. The coach should use a stopwatch to time the 30-second intervals and tell the athletes when it is time to move on to the next stop. Athletes should only be allowed enough time between sets to adequately prepare for the exercise they are about to perform. If there are more athletes than stations, add 1-2 non-active rest stations for recovery time, however, no more than this or it will alter the conditioning aspect of the program.
One of the best things about the 30-second program for wrestling during the season is the fact that only light weights can be used. This reduces the pain factor (if the athletes are in good shape) and virtually eliminates the possibility of injury. The amount of weight used for each exercise should be something the athlete can do for 20 reps. In each round, this number should be increasingly difficult to achieve, however, the weight should remain the same throughout the cycle. If the reps are drastically reduced after the first round, the weight is too heavy and needs to be reduced. This means that the athlete chose the wrong weight to start with or is very out of shape. The selection of exercises is also very important for the program to be possible. For more conditioning, mix upper and lower body exercises in the same cycle. To develop / maintain size and strength, separate upper and lower body exercises into their own cycle. Ideally, if you have chosen the correct exercises, participants should be able to complete a full cycle 3 times. This is a good volume for athletes who are in shape during wrestling season.
For upper body day, choose antagonistic exercises for the athlete to push in one set and then pull the next. For example, don’t choose two bank moves one after the other; This will lead to exhaustion and the athlete will most likely not be able to get the correct rep pattern on the second exercise due to fatigue. Also, don’t schedule isolation arm exercises into the mix. Arms are small groups of muscles, they tire quickly and will make the athlete too tired to complete more cycles of the program. Below is an example of a good 30-second program for the upper body. With each athlete at one station, do as many reps as possible for 30 seconds, then turn to the next station …
Rows supported on the chest
Hang Cleans (reps of 12, # 20)
Side panels DB
Inclined press DB
Low cable row
As a warm-up, perform several sets of numerous repetitions on the bench, lateral curls, lateral push-ups or chin-ups with very light weights, training bands, or both. For lower body day, you can schedule various types of squatting movements; however, use the bar for a single exercise if possible. Also, do not use any type of barbell deadlift in the program. Below is an example of a good 30-second program for the lower body. With each athlete at one station, do as many reps as possible for 30 seconds, then turn to the next station …
Kettle Bell Front Squat (Front squat holding a kettle bell or DB at chest level)
DB Dead Lifts (reps 10-12, # 20)
Seated Leg Curl with Band Only (Seated Leg Curl Using Only a Training Band for Resistance)
Kettle bell swings
The 30 Second training can also be used for basic development. Choose exercises that include abs, obliques, lower back, and hips. Try hitting the core from numerous different angles for the best strength and performance result. With each athlete at one station, do as many reps as possible (or for planks, hold position) for 30 seconds, then turn to the next station …
Hanging leg raise + side push-ups
Kettle bell swings
Side bends DB (30 sec. Each side)
TRX mountain climbers or pike
Again, when choosing exercises to outfit your program, avoid hitting the same muscle group (or a very similar movement) back to back. For example, don’t do Roman chair crunches and then switch to another type of crunch that works the front abdominal wall again. Consider trying the 30-second program as a safe method of lifting during wrestling season. It is also effective to use as resistance training and to get fit during a strength conditioning phase of your preseason workouts.