There are many exercises out there to show you how to get stronger, but not much info about how to train your systems effectively. Exercises are easy to come by. However, training your energy systems is what turns an athlete into a champion. Often, wrestlers train too much speed and explosiveness, neglecting their other energy systems.
Wrestling is not predominantly an explosive sport. It is a sport that uses explosive techniques. If one system is lacking, then the others will not function well nor at their maximal potential. They are all interconnected to function and perform optimally. Understanding how the three energy systems work and are interconnected will boost your wrestling performance.
Know Thy Weakness
Your weakness is similar to the weak link in the chain and will be the limiting factor that inhibits your performance potential. Therefore, understand where you need to improve to boost your performance.
Understand How You Wrestle
For example, being a lightweight is different than being a heavyweight. Lighter weights scramble and tussle more than mid and heavyweights. Therefore, your training will and should be different.
Aerobic System and Slow-Twitch Fibers
The aerobic system and slow-twitch fibers kick on typically after anything longer than 2-3 minutes. Your matches are 9-minutes in duration broken into 3-three-minute periods. This means you will be tapping into your slow-twitch fibers and aerobic system in each period, as well as throughout the match.
One misbelief about the aerobic system and slow-twitch fibers is that they are weak. They are not weak. They produce less force and power than the other muscle fibers. Truthfully, they are more about endurance and strength sustainability. You can and need to strengthen your aerobic system and slow-twitch fibers. The aerobic and slow-twitch fibers are necessary to optimize your strength, speed, and power on the mat.
When the fast-twitch fibers fatigue, they rely on the strength and ability of the slow-twitch fibers so they can replenish their energy. Energy in fast-twitch fibers restores about 50% in 30 seconds and fully recovers and restores 90-100% in 2-3 minutes.
How to Improve Aerobic Power
Long Aerobic Training
Run 3-5 miles between 75-80%.
Short Aerobic Training
Run 5-minute intervals at the higher end of 80-85%. For example, if you are running 5 miles in 45 minutes-run 5-minute intervals 8 times with 2-minutes rest after each run. Your short training will improve the speed and endurance of your long run.
Slow-Twitch Muscle Training
When doing resistance training exercises, use about 50-60% of 1RM, with languid movements going up and down for about 1 minute. This will recruit and strengthen your slow-twitch fibers and increase and improve the effectiveness of mitochondria.
Stay in the aerobic threshold.
The purpose of the threshold ranges is to improve your base to be faster and stronger. For instance, if you can run 5 minutes at 7MPH. And, from training over time, you can run 5 minutes at 8MPH or run 5 miles in 40 minutes instead of 45; you will have increased your aerobic strength, speed, and endurance. It is the same as if you can do 15 reps with 50 lbs. And, over time from training, you can do 15 reps with 65 lbs. you increase slow-twitch muscle strength.
If you don’t’ want to run, you can use the rower, fan bike, or program wrestling drills accordingly. You can use three exercises in a cross-training way as well that simulates wrestling. You can row, bike, and run for 5 minutes each and repeat.
Anaerobic Glycolytic and Fast-twitch Fibers
Fast Twitch Fibers IIA
These fibers are fast-twitch and produce high and quick force. Their duration is from 10 seconds to 3 minutes. Type IIA fibers are a mixture of slow and fast-twitch fibers. They are highly aerobic and anaerobic. They are like hybrids and can switch from low to high intensity depending on your activity.
Techniques for Training Fast Twitch IIA Fibers
Depending on your scramble and tussles, train accordingly. Perform at 85-90% intensity. Perform about 5 sets. Train long and short on different days. Again, you will see the short improve the speed and endurance of the long.
Lightweights scramble and tussle more and fastest
Long- 30-40 seconds work. Rest 2 minutes with active recovery, using aerobic movements.
Short- 10-20 seconds work. Rest using 30 seconds.
Middleweights scramble and tussle less than lightweights
Long- 20-30 seconds work. Rest 2 minutes with active recovery, using aerobic movements.
Short- 10-20 seconds work. Rest using 30 seconds.
Heavyweights scramble and tussle the least.
Long- 10-15 seconds work. Rest 2 minutes with active recovery, using aerobic movements.
Short- 10 seconds work. Rest using 30 seconds.
You want to use aerobic active recovery on long days because aerobic active recovery clears lactic acid. Jogging would be considered active recovery.
You have to know how to recover so energy can replenish. And that will depend on another system’s strength ability.
You can use the fan bike, rower, sprinting, kettlebell swings, jump rope, as well as wrestling drills for interval training. You can create circuits using different exercises as well.
The anaerobic/lactic system and muscles primarily produce energy for up to 10 seconds. When you do a highly explosive, powerful movement, this system is used. It does not use oxygen or glucose. The anaerobic/lactic system is fueled by stored energy called ATP. So, explosive movements, sprints, and plyometric exercises 10 seconds or less will use this energy and engage fast-twitch fibers.
Techniques for Training Fast Twitch IIB Fibers
On the Minute Training
Do 10 seconds of work at 90-100% intensity. Rest for the remaining time of the minute-50 seconds. Keep going for as many minutes as you can. Do not shorten the rest, and when you are resting during the minute, walk around or do something called fast and loose to shake out the tension in your muscles. Terminate the workout when your power, reps, speed, or explosiveness begins to go down. Don’t train fatigue.
You can use sprints, Olympic lifts, kettlebell snatches, etc. This is essential. The purpose is to make it anaerobic and at the same time not letting lactic acid accumulate. This is great to keep your power high during and later in your match.
You can do long intervals using, Olympic lifts, sprints, etc., for 2-3 reps or 10 seconds work, then rest completely for 3-5 minutes to replenishment ATP 100% and repeat 5 times. Use active recovery for 2 minutes. In this workout, you are training power at full capacity.
Remember, you are training the different energy systems to develop and improve their maximal potential to integrate, support, and transfer power through your performance effectively. Like shifting gears on a Formula 1 race car, there is no delay when shifting to go faster and maintain speed. The transfer of speed and power is smooth. Also, remember, don’t train fatigue and overtrain your workouts. This will be counterproductive.
For more information about strength training, check out my book Instant Strength.