In-Season Lifting with Oklahoma State

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How will it affect my weight? Should I lift to get stronger, or just to maintain? Will lifting make me too sore to move?

Wrestlers' questions about in-season lifting are endless. To answer a few, we turned to Gary Calcagno, assistant director of strength and conditioning at Oklahoma State University, the coach whose lifting recommendations helped the Cowboys take home the national title the past four years running.

How do I get the best results from in-season lifting?
Training properly in season shows at the end of your season. But to get results then, you have to train consistently. Don't skip workouts with excuses like "I'm tired" or "I'm sore from yesterday's workout." Once we get into the season, we lift the full body twice a week, but never on the day of, or the day before, a duel. You have to be smart about when you lift. If you have duels on Friday and Sunday, you should lift Monday and Wednesday. Be consistent with your training; go in and push yourself. You'll see the benefits come tournament-time.

Should I lift to maintain strength?
Never lift to maintain. To me that's ludicrous. We lift to pin people in the tournament in March. We want to get stronger as the season goes on—there is no maintenance. Coach [John] Smith said to me, "Gary, don't worry about what we're doing; just go ahead and crush them. We're not training for the duels that are coming up; we're training for March." That's our mentality.

Will the stress of lifting cause injuries?
Busting your butt as much as possible in the weight room prevents injury, because all your connective tissues become stronger. The time you spend in the weight room has a direct correlation to the time you spend out of the training room.

When during the day should I lift?
Before I started with the team, they lifted at the end of practice. But if you lift after practice, especially one of John Smith's practices, you'll only give 50 percent; you'll skip lifts, sets or reps. So now we come in the morning and lift at 7:00 a.m.

Won't lifting make me sore?
Every now and then, guys tell me they're sore from Coach Smith's practice the day before. Coach Smith pushes them hard in practice. When I get this excuse, my retort is: "Perfect. Lifting is exactly what you need. It'll get blood moving through your muscles to flush out your system and help you recover faster."

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