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The Pan American Wrestling Championships: Strength and conditioning like a pro
From the 18th to 21st April this year, many of us were gearing up for Easter bank holiday weekend. But for those of us in the wrestling community, it was a time to look at what some of the world’s finest wrestlers were achieving at the Pan American Wrestling Championships. The USA dominated every category, taking home all three golds available.
The Pan American Wrestling Championships, held in Buenos Aires, were more than just a showcase of the best wrestling talent around. There’s a lot to learn from these athletes who have spent their time overcoming both mental and physical obstacles to reach the top of their game. As with any sport, the road to the top is long and hard, but definitely not endless.
The difference between the good and the great
Anyone can be good at something with a little time and practice, but being great requires the perfect combination of characteristics that push you ahead of your competitors. These qualities include perseverance, pride, sacrifice, self-belief, humility, commitment, courage, and mental resilience. But, as fantastic as these are, they can only take you so far if you don’t have the physical capacity to bring them to life. To become great, you’ll need to be in the best shape possible, physically and mentally. That is where strength and conditioning comes in.
What does top-level strength and conditioning look like?
Imitating the world’s best wrestlers might be one way to get your technique, strength, speed, agility, and conditioning at its best. But, to do so, you’ll need an understanding of the basic training involved and how this acts on the body and your performance. The off-season is no time to relax. During this time, many wrestlers focus on basic strength and conditioning training aimed at becoming more powerful, preventing injuries, and improving fitness.
The idea is straightforward, and so are the training plans, but they allow you to build up brutal strength that’s ready to explode during peak season. Focusing on strength and conditioning for the body also has the side effect of training the mind. You’ll need to muster all your mental durability to get through the hard sessions, lift more, push harder, and last longer. You’ll be thankful for it when you find you can hold on for just that little bit longer than your opponent.
Top tips for wrestlers
So what do we recommend? We suggest this two-pronged approach:
Weight lifting - Wrestlers aren’t professional weight lifters. It isn’t about lifting as much as you can as the risk of injury isn’t worth the outcome. A good training plan includes weightlifting where you focus on technique and remember to leave a rep in the barrel. Remember, with weights, more is not better. You become stronger when you rest so lifting every day won’t help you see results.
Cardio - Long-distance running isn’t for wrestlers. It doesn’t resemble the work you’ll do in the sport; it eats away muscle and can take its toll on your joints. Instead, try hill sprints or use the incline on a treadmill for 20 minutes max. Other cardio work, like skipping, can be useful, but the focus should be on weight training. Save cardio until the end so you don’t waste your energy before you have a chance to make progress in the weight room.
Wrestling is a highly technical sport, and it takes a lot to become a pro. But, there is no better place to start than with your physical fitness. You’ll find that with a healthy, strong, and ready body, the rest of the skills will fall into place much easier.
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