Wrestling Summer Training Guide 2013

June 4, 2013 | Featured in the Summer 2013 Issue

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STACK's Wrestling Summer Training Guide was created by Zeke Jones, head coach of the U.S. freestyle wrestling team, who led the squad at the 2012 London Olympics. Jones is also an Olympic Silver Medalist (Barcelona, 1992) and a 4-time World Cup Champion.

Wrestling Workout

Training Tips

If the summer break is 10 or 12 weeks long, I want a high school athlete spending six to 10 of those weeks in training. The other weeks should be spent on passive exercise—games like basketball or soccer, things that are fun but keep you in shape.

I never used to do that until I went overseas and saw other top teams train. The American mentality is always harder, faster, more. But go to Russia, Bulgaria, Cuba or Iran, and you’ll see sports games are a very important part of their training.

You can get as much running out of a 40-minute soccer game as you can by jogging in a straight line for that long.

Take that first week of break off completely. Then spend a week playing games or occasionally lifting. Then get serious for six or more weeks of running and lifting.

During summer training, your first priority should be building strength. But a very close second is conditioning.

Very few things in wrestling involve a static movement. So train accordingly.

We’ll do Push-Ups on a bar that put you off-balance, or do Med Ball Throws on an instability board. Anything that’ll prepare you for the moment where you’ll be falling down with one arm behind your back but still have to throw a 180-pound opponent.

You can move 800 million ways in wrestling. You’re going to wind up on your side, knees, back, your neck, all fours. You gotta be strong in every one of those positions.

And you’re always working against another force—another human being.

Conditioning is one of the things that can win you matches. Imagine sprinting as hard as you can for 6 minutes. It’s impossible.

You’re going to hit failure, physically. Then you have to continue. That’s what makes the sport unique.

The “work-to-rest ratio” means how much time you spend resting after each run.  In the summer a high schooler would want to go with 1 to 2, so if you sprint for 15 seconds, take 30 seconds of rest.

As the season gets underway, we’ll cut those rest ratios down. Way down.

You get very little recovery when you’re on the mat. It’s not like football, where you run a ball for 5 seconds and then get 45 seconds of rest. You get very little recovery and our running mirrors that.

Recovery is as important as training. We make sure our athletes do hot and cold plunges, sauna sessions, hot yoga for stretching, and massage, to name a few.

Vacation with your family is essential, too. Don’t forget that.

After your weeks of strength and conditioning work, take it easy for a couple of weeks heading into the school year. Give yourself some time to rest and get into the right mindset for the season ahead.

The First Week

Day 1

  • Dynamic Warm-Up – 7 minutes
  • Speed and Quickness Drills (sprints, cone shuttles) – 15 minutes
  • Box Jumps – 3x5
  • Med Ball Squat Throws – 3x8
  • One-Arm DB Clean – 3x5
  • Back Squat – 1x10 (warm-up), 3x5
  • Push Press – 1x10 (warm-up), 3x5
  • DB Rows – 3x6 each arm
  • Superset Dips – 3x10 and Barbell Curls – 3x10
  • Decline Sit-Ups – 3x20
  • Back Extensions – 3x15
  • DB Side Bends – 3x15 each side
  • Cooldown Stretching

Day 2

  • Dynamic Warm-Up – 7 minutes
  • 1-mile run x 1, 1:1 work/rest ratio
  • 800m run x 2, 1:2 work/rest ratio
  • 400m run x 2, 1:2 work/rest ratio
  • 100m run x 4, 1:2 work/rest ratio

Day 3

  • Dynamic Warm-Up – 7 minutes
  • Speed and Quickness Drills (sprints, cone shuttles) – 15 minutes
  • Broad Jumps – 3x5
  • Woodchoppers – 3x8
  • Clean Pull – 3x10
  • Deadlift – 1x10 (warm-up), 3x5
  • Bench Press – 1x10 (warm-up), 3x5
  • Pull-Ups – 40, doing as many sets as necessary to hit total
  • Superset Wrist Curls (palms up) – 3x15 and Wrist Curls (palms down) – 3x15
  • Hanging Leg Raises – 3x20
  • Back Extensions Iso Holds – 3x20 sec.
  • Decline Russian Twists– 3x30
  • Cooldown Stretching

Day 4

  • Long, slow distance run – 2.5-5 miles

Day 5

  • Dynamic Warm-Up – 7 minutes
  • Speed and Quickness Drills (sprints, cone shuttles) – 15 minutes
  • One-Leg Box Jumps – 3x5 each
  • Med Ball Chest Throws – 3x8
  • Kettlebell Swings– 3x6
  • Romanian Deadlift – 1x10 (warm-up), 3x5
  • Walking Lunge – 3x10
  • DB Incline Bench Combo – 3x5
  • DB Bent Over Row Combo – 3x5
  • Superset Hammer Curls – 3x10 and Tricep Pushdowns – 3x10
  • Toe Touches – 3x25
  • Back Extensions 3x15
  • V-Ups – 3x20
  • Cooldown Stretching

Exercise Instructions

Box Jumps

Med Ball Squat Throws

One-Arm DB Clean

Perform with one arm at a time.

Back Squat

Push Press

DB Rows


Barbell Curls

Decline Sit-Ups

Back Extension

DB Side Bends

Stand with your feet hip width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell with one hand at your side. Tilt your torso to the side to lower the dumbbell as far as possible. Straighten your torso to return to the starting position. Repeat for the specified number of reps, and perform a set on your opposite side.

Broad Jumps


Clean Pull


Bench Press


Wrist Curls

Hanging Leg Raises

Back Extension Iso Holds

Perform a Back Extension, holding the extended position for the specified duration.

Decline Russian Twists

Perform on a decline bench.

One-Leg Box Jump

Med Ball Chest Throw

Kettlebell Swings

Romanian Deadlift

Walking Lunge

DB Incline Bench

DB Bent-Over Row

Hammer Curls

Tricep Pushdowns


Toe Touches

Wrestling Workout

Photo: AP

Brian Sabin
- Executive Editor Brian Sabin is a Webby Award-winning writer, editor and producer covering all things health, fitness and sports. He previously worked as a Senior...
Brian Sabin
- Executive Editor Brian Sabin is a Webby Award-winning writer, editor and producer covering all things health, fitness and sports. He previously worked as a Senior...
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