Lifting for Wrestling

by Ryan Haas

About Ryan Haas

Writing professionally since 2005, Ryan Haas specializes in sports, politics and music. His work has appeared in "The Journal-Standard," SKNVibes and trackalerts. Haas holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Illinois.


Weightlifting is a key aspect of a wrestling training program. Along with good technique and cardiovascular conditioning, having adequate strength for your weight class can make the difference between being a good and a great wrestler. Weightlifting for wrestling does not have to be complicated as long as you follow a program that fits you and will help you make sport-appropriate muscle gains.

Training Objectives

Sports physiologist Phil Davies states that wrestlers must have a high level of anaerobic power and endurance to perform at full capacity throughout a six-minute wrestling match. This means that you must have strength and the ability to apply that strength at near maximum force repeatedly as you grapple during the match. Additionally, your weightlifting program should promote overall power development, flexibility and core strength.


Though there are myriad types of weightlifting equipment available, Grappler’s Gym owner and wrestling coach Mike Fry advocates staying with basic equipment, including barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells for your regimen. These types of free weights allow you to perform compound movements, meaning you work multiple muscle groups with each exercise. In addition to compound movements such as the bench press, dead lift and squat, using dumbbells and kettlebells can simulate motions you use in a wrestling match.

Lifting Program

As a general guideline, including two to eight exercises per session two or three times a week is the best approach for wrestling weightlifting. Use fewer exercises if you are lifting weights closer to 70 percent of your one-repetition maximum so you can build muscular power. Use more exercises if you are lifting weights around 50 percent or less of your one-repetition maximum to build muscular endurance. Davies recommends 15 to 30 repetitions and two to four sets per exercise for muscular power and 30 to 60 seconds of quick repetitions when you are working on your muscular endurance. Allow for 48 hours or more rest between weight training sessions for any muscle group.


Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler and coach Dan Gable states in his book “Coaching Wrestling Successfully” that you must have self-motivation for your wrestling training program to be successful. Even a few extra minutes of training each day can add up to hours of workouts a year, so pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone should be a top priority. Gable also recommends weightlifting throughout the year, not just in the off-season, to keep your body in peak condition.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or