How to get fit for your first wrestling tournament

Picture this — the hustle and bustle of the crowd around you are deafening as the ref calls out your number. With an encouraging nod from your coach, you step out onto the mat and shake hands with your opponent. You’ve been preparing for this for months, and months and months.

There’s nothing quite like stepping out onto the mat with no doubts; no doubts that your training has been sufficient, that you’ve been practicing and getting stronger, more technical, and above all, your fitness is the best it’s been in years.

Wrestling is a unique sport in that it requires the perfect balance of technique, strength, and – perhaps most important of all – endurance. To be physically fit enough to keep going when you are at your most heightened state of emotion is a skill that can be honed, and today we’re going to share with you a couple of key tips on How to Get Fit For Your First Wrestling Tournament.

There is one type of cardiovascular training that every wrestler and an aspiring wrestler can and should add to their training regime, and it’s called High-Intensity Interval Training.

What is High-Intensity Interval Training?

High-intensity interval training, better known by it’s abbreviated form; “HIIT” is the name for an exercise method that consists of intervals performed at maximal effort, followed by a rest period, and then repeated for a prescribed number of rounds. HIIT has been popularized by the media and research alike for its usefulness in training the body to recover quickly from intense bouts of effort. Given wrestling is a short-round sport, HIIT is a perfect fit for getting your central nervous system primed and ready for this kind of competition format.

How is it performed?

There are a couple of different pieces of equipment and ways to go about performing HIIT, and these are just a few:

Hill Sprints

This one requires absolutely no equipment, and the cardiovascular adaptions it can provide are wildly useful to wrestlers! There are no set time prescriptions for this one, but a good target to shoot for is anything between a 1:2 or 1:3 work to rest ratio. An example of this would be a 1-minute all-out effort up a hill, and then a slow, approximately 2-to-3-minute walk back down to the base. This can then be repeated 6-8 times, depending on your current state of fitness.

Cardio on a bike

In one study, HIIT performed three times per week on a bike was able to produce cardiovascular endurance adaptations that were nearly ten times greater than that of a standard steady-state cardio training protocol1. This speaks not only to the efficiency of HIIT when it comes to bang-for-buck in your training but also the time efficiency that it provides2, leaving more time for wrestling practice and especially recovery.

There are a few different ways to go about doing HIIT cardio on a bike. Given that wrestling rounds are approximately 2-3 minutes depending on where you compete and the level of competition, it’s a good idea to start with a 30-second-to-1-minute work interval, followed by a 1 to 3-minute rest interval, and then slowly work your way up to a 2-3 minute work interval and corresponding rest. This working up should be done over time, only adding 10-20 seconds to the work interval every 1-2 weeks. This kind of training can be done 2-3 times per week, depending on how taxing the wrestling practice load is.

Practice, practice, practice

If there is one piece of advice that can be given to new wrestlers, it’s that there is no training quite like actual practice. The multitude of stimuli and stress load that is placed on the body during training with others is impossible to replicate anywhere but on the mat itself, but it can certainly be prepared for.

By following the above protocols and hitting the gym to supplement the agility with some strength, your fitness is bound to have you nothing but prepared and ready to hit the mats come competition day.

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