Wrestling Periodization

The topic of periodization in sports is nothing new. In some ways it's easy to understand. A wrestler trains year round by breaking his year into different training cycles. The idea is to peak at the right moment. Some argue that periodization for wrestling is pointless.

Here is a good article regarding the drawbacks of periodization: http://www.wrestlingusa.com/003%20wusa%20web%20root/Issues/mar15/6-Weight%20Training.pdf

I agree that a wrestler has to be ready to win every match. I agree that a wrestler wants to be at his peak all throughout the competetive season. But, I think the important idea is that an elite wrestler usually trains throughout the year. So, I believe the idea of periodization for wrestling has some merits.

This first article is a very basic article on periodization for wrestling. It describes a periodization program in very basic terms. This is a good article if you don't know much about the concept of periodization.

By Ethan Bosch

Right now you might be wondering, "What is this periodization?" Periodization means changing your training program at regular time intervals (called phases or periods) in order to get the most physical gains from your body and achieve your best performance. Periodization in weight training has been proven very effective in improving strength, power, and muscular endurance - all important areas of concern for wrestlers! At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, our coaches use periodization concepts both in the wrestling room and in our weight training.

Since your coach will probably be planning your wrestling workouts for the season, how can you periodize your weightlifting and your running to be able to improve your strength, power, and endurance? Most importantly, how will you be able to peak - achieve maximum performance - at the end of the season.

Ideally, you will have been doing some running and strength training during the off-season, and the workouts won't be such a shock to your body. For the sake of simplicity, let's divide up your training into four phases: Preparation, Pre-Competition, Competition, and Peaking. If you're just starting with your weight training now, you'll need to give your body some time to adjust to the strain you'll be putting on it, so you will also need an Adaptation Phase. This will mostly consist of simple, one-movement exercises such as benching and leg presses - nothing too stressful on your whole body yet like cleans or squats. Periodization can get very complicated, and knowledgeable trainers and coaches will incorporate mini-cycles within each phase. These are just the basic phases, with simple guidelines for your emphasis within each phase.

First, figure out when you want to peak. Next, count the number of weeks that you have between whenever it is you're starting until a week before you want to peak. I f you're starting from scratch, allow yourself two weeks for Adaptation. Then, divide the time you have left into thirds, one third for each of the first three phases. The last week is Phase 4.

Phase 1: Preparation. Two things you'll want to be focusing on during this phase are conditioning and volume. You should be doing weights that you can get for sets of 8-10 repetitions, with a good struggle on the last set (you have to stretch your limits). Your runs should be long and hard. You need a good conditioning base so your body will be prepared for the season.

Phase 2: Pre-Competition. During this phase, you're going to focus on developing your strength and power. You'll want to gradually increase your weights so that you can get 4-6 repetitions on your first set, but maybe only two repetitions on your last. The focus here is more on intensity. Your running emphasis should be more on sprinting during this phase.

Phase 3: Competition. This phase will be closer to the end of the season, and the time that you want to peak. Your workouts here will be more sport specific. You'll be wrestling six-minute matches in competition, plus maybe overtime. Figure out what exercises you need to do and put them together in a circuit, where you do an exercise for 20-30 seconds and rest for 10-15 seconds, to total 7-9 minutes. Your weights will be pretty low, but you need to be able to push it the whole time to get the maximum benefit! Go through the circuit 2-3 times at the beginning of the phase, but no more than twice toward the end. You should be running a hard mile or so and ending with a good sprint workout.

Phase 4: Peaking. You want to peak in one week. You've worked your tail off for many weeks. What you need to do now is rest your body and let all the hard work you've done do its job. Usually, in high school, you need to peak for a couple weeks of competition, so just a little bit of time in the weight room might not be a bad idea for maintenance, but don't overdo it. You need to be fresh for your competition.

A few other things to remember for any weight training program for wrestling. Get a good warm-up beforehand, get a good stretch afterward, and don't neglect your core (abs/low back) and neck.

Periodization is a proven training technique that works. In wrestling, strength, power, and endurance don't take the place of technique and desire, but they sure can help.

This article is from Wrestling USA Magazine, October 1, 2003.
I found a copy of this this article at: http://www.wrestlingusa.com/04%20wusa%20web%20root/Issues/oct1/28coachingtips.pdf

Year Long Periodization Schedule
By Richard Fergola
Gold Level Coach
Asst. Wrestling Coach, Neosho County Community College

Do you ever wonder sometimes, when you are watching those elite wrestlers dominate the competition, what they do to be so good? How do they train?
What makes them so much better than everyone else? Well, some of it is pure God given talent, but most of it comes from training. The above average and elite wrestlers set goals and establish a training schedule for themselves that will most likely last year round.

Most people believe that there are two parts to a wrestler’s season….in-season and off-season. Well, that is not true. Most above average and elite level wrestlers develop what is called a periodization schedule. This is a training schedule that is year round and is broken up into periods where training will change to accommodate what the wrestler is training for.

The periodization training schedule is broken
up into four seasons:
1) Pre-season-this training is to prepare the wrestler for the
upcoming high school or collegiate season. Weight-training and
conditioning. (August-November)
2) High School or Collegiate Season-training is more specific,
and more wrestling oriented. Training only for folkstyle.
3) Freestyle/Greco Regular Season-training 2-4 times a week,
wrestling about every Saturday in local tournaments, some
regionals, more laid back. (March, April and May).
4) Freestyle/Greco Post Season-this training is more intense and
focus is towards the climax of the year, national level tournaments.
(June and July)

Some wrestlers can develop this type of a plan themselves,
but most are usually trained by a coach that will work them
through this plan in the beginning and then have the wrestler
slowly take it on themselves. For the serious wrestler, a year long
periodization training schedule will not only help you improve
as a wrestler, but it will help in areas such as physical shape,
mental toughness (psychological stamina), focus, technique,
training habits, and most importantly it will help you peak at the
times that are most important.

I have developed a year long periodization training schedule
that I used with high school wrestlers when I was a head high
school coach. This schedule can be adapted for collegiate level
athletes as well. This schedule incorporates many different
aspects of training at different times of the year. Of course this
training regimen is not the “written word” by any means, but it
has worked well in the past as well as the present.

Under this training schedule, I have produced 30 state qualifiers,
15 state placers, 2 state champions at the high school level.
On the national level, it has produced 21 Cadet All-Americans, 2
Cadet National Champions, and one Junior National Greco-
Roman Champion in just 5 years. So it is well proven. Please
take this schedule and use it as much as you can.

August and September
• Start the last week of August with the pre-season strength &
conditioning program. Work outs should be held on
Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Never workout on
Fridays, rest day. The first six weeks of this program is
weight training only. This should consist of heavyweight
and low reps to help build mass and power. This should last
from August 26-Oct 3rd.

• End the weight training side of the pre-season on Oct. 3rd.
Starting Monday Oct. 7th, begin the conditioning cycle. This
cycle will last for six weeks and will run right up to the
beginning of the wrestling season.
• The purpose is to have the athletes physically ready to step
on the mat the first day of practice and when the first compe
tition arrives, they will be prepared.
• The conditioning side of the pre-season will be a lot of
strength exercises, running, agility, coordination, balance,
stamina, cardiovascular, and a test of heart.

• End the pre-season strength & conditioning program on
Nov. 8th
• In Kansas, the week of Nov. 11-15 is considered Buffer Week
which entails that no winter athlete can be involved in any
organized practice or workout. I usually just tell my
athletes to rest a little bit, maybe get in a couple of runs
that week and lift light.
• November 18th, start regular wrestling practice.
• Now that conditioning will come in practice, the wrestlers
should pick back up a regular weight training regimen. Start
the weights after the first week of practice is over. Most kids
will have a weight training class so they can workout in
• Throughout the wrestling season, we do not want the
wrestler to put on mass nor do we want to over train the
muscle groups, so the training will be adjusted for in-season.
The wrestler should switch to lifting light weight with higher
reps like 15-20.
• Normally I would have my wrestlers go two weeks on
weights and one week off. This gives them a small break
from the weight room. In place of the weights that week, I
will usually have them just do little things like pull-ups,
push-ups, jump rope, stair master, etc. Have them follow
this schedule throughout the season then stop the weight
training one week before the state tournament.

December, January and February
• December will consist of competitions. The weekly
training schedule will be different depending on how many
competitions you have during the week. Here are a few
examples of what you can do during the week throughout
the season once you get into December when you have
1. One competition for the week (Thursday dual)
• Monday should consist of drilling, live wrestling, and
conditioning. Should be an intense training session. Make
wrestlers be within six pounds of scratch weight.
• Tuesday should consist of dictated drilling, some
technique, and live wrestling. Wrestlers must be within 3
pounds of scratch weight.
• Wednesday is the night before the dual, so practice is
short and is used to just get their weight down. Drilling
and conditioning is all that is needed. Wrestlers must be
within one pound of scratch weight.
• Thursday will be competition.
• Friday will be a light practice, made up of mostly technique
review and drilling.
• Saturday no practice.
• Sunday no practice.
2. One competition for the week (Saturday tournament)
• Monday will still be drilling, live wrestling, and
conditioning. Wrestlers must be within 9 lbs of scratch
• Tuesday will be technique day. Be within 7 pounds.
• Wednesday will consist of mostly live wrestling sessions.
Training matches. Be within 5 pounds.
• Thursday will be drilling, some live, and conditioning.
Must be within 3 pounds.
• Friday will be a short practice. Mostly conditioning and
drilling. Must be within 1 pound.
3. 2 day tournament for the week (Friday and Saturday)
• Monday - same as #2, but must be within 7 pounds.
• Tuesday - same as #2…..within 5 pounds.
• Wednesday - same as #2….within 3 pounds.
• Thursday - same as #2….within 1 pound.
• Friday - competition.
• Saturday - competition.
• Sunday - rest.
4. Two competitions in one week (Thursday dual and Saturday
• Monday - hit practice hard. Dictated drilling, live
wrestling, and conditioning. Get their weight down to 5
• Tuesday - drilling and conditioning. No technique. Be
within 3 pounds.
• Wednesday - light practice. Drilling and conditioning and
one live match. Within one pound.
• Thursday - dual competition.
• Friday - just maintain weight and leave within one pound
• Saturday - tournament competition.
• Sunday - rest
5. Two competitions in a week (Thursday dual and two day
tournament on Fri. and Sat.)
• Same as #4, except there will be no practice on Friday.
Just the tournament competition.

• After the state tournament is over, make sure that your
athletes take at least one week off from any activities.
• After the one week lay off, start the strength & conditioning
program again, but adapt it a little.
• Alternate the weight training and the conditioning
by weeks. One week will be weight training (heavy weight
and low reps), and then the next week condition (long
distance running, sprints, push-ups, pull-ups, etc). Then
the next week go back to weight training but lift light
weight lots of reps and then the next week condition and
so on and so on.
• Continue this training schedule through March. Some
of your wrestlers may participate in Kids Federation
wrestling throughout March, but this schedule will be for
the ones who do not.
• Towards the end of March or the first week of April,
begin drilling again for freestyle and Greco-Roman about 2
to 3 times a week.

• In most states, local freestyle and Greco tournaments
will take place every Saturday through April and May.
You can go just about anywhere and find a tournament
• Continue to practice 2 to 3 times a week and attending
tournaments on Saturdays. You should get at least one
more practice a week when training for a bigger tournament
such as regionals, FILA Nationals, National Duals, or
Cadet/Junior Nationals in Fargo.
• In April, the elite level wrestler should try and compete at
the Cadet FILA Nationals in Chicago or the FILA Juniors in
Chattanooga, TN.
• Throughout April, May and June there are regional
tournaments for the Cadet or Junior level wrestler.
These regionals are based all over the US and are used
as qualifiers for each state’s national teams and will
usually feature some the regions best wrestlers.

May and June
• When school is out at the end of May or beginning of June,
most freestyle clubs will not work out as much and the
number of workout partners will diminish greatly.
• Start to implement more running and light lifting into your
training schedule. At least 3 times a week.
• If your Freestyle/Greco club cannot provide the quality
workout partners that you need, then try to find a USA
Wrestling regional training center to travel to at least once
a week.
• Continue to drill and live wrestle 3 to 4 times a week.
• In June, the Cadet level wrestler, should try and attend the
Cadet National Duals with his/her respective state team.
This tournament provides each wrestler with approximately
15 to 16 matches in 3 days. The competition is very
high level.
• At the end of June is the Junior National Duals. This is the
same format as Cadet Duals. Both of these tournaments provide
a ton of mat time and are usually a prelude to the
national championships in Fargo, ND.

• In the first of July, about 2 weeks before nationals training
camp, the wrestlers should intensify their training sessions.
Should be an increase in conditioning, running, drilling, live
sessions, and cut back on the weight training.
• Attend your national team training camp where you will
have elite level training partners to train with for a week
where you will use that time to fine tune your conditioning
and technique. The camps main purpose is to just get repeti
tion, more conditioning and control your weight.
• Attend the national tournament the following week in
Fargo, ND.
• After Fargo, take about a 2 week break from all training,
unless you are an incoming college freshman, then take just
one week off and continue back with running and lifting
about 3 times a week. No mat work during this time. You
want to report to college in good shape.
• If you are going to still be in high school, then take the two
week break to give your body some rest time that it needs.
Recovery is very important. Eat well during this time,
mainly concentrating on lots of protein and
fewer carbohydrates. Maintain a good diet.

• When school starts back up again,
begin weight training on your own
with heavy weight and low reps about
three days a week and run the other
two days.
• At the end of August, the cycle will
start all over again with the pre-season
strength & conditioning program.
This year long periodization training
schedule will really help develop your
wrestlers into above average and elite level
wrestlers. The constant training, mat experience,
and exposure to different coaching
styles will elevate their focus on what needs
to be accomplished in order to become a
very successful wrestlers.

If you are a serious wrestler and you
have high goals set for yourself, then it is
wise to establish a year long periodization
training schedule so that you can improve
yourself and peak at the most important
competitions throughout the season.