1. Never assume a certain level of Fitness/Strength. Zach talked about his experience working with Top HS, college, and World Class Wrestlers. You may assume they would all have a great foundation of Strength Training, but he has found that not to be the case. One benchmark Zach uses before focusing on weight training-Can you/your wrestler do 40 perfect pushups and at least 20 with a plate on his back? If not, forget about Power Cleans, you need to get stronger and focus on the basics first.
2. Don’t focus on Complex lifts. Sometimes Simple is better! Remember simple is very different than easy. Especially at a Youth level, old school strength and conditioning trumps complexity. Push ups, sit ups, Rope climb, bodyweight squats/lunges. You will get Stronger this way and it is much safer.
3. Train Optimally, rather than Maximally or Minimally. There are very few Monsters (i.e. Brands Bros, Gable, Cary Kolat, etc.) who thrive on consistent grueling workouts. Remember that there is no substitute for Wrestling, Strength & Conditioning is a supplement. Wrestlers can benefit from lifting/strength training only 2 or 3 days a week. In fact, each workout program we received when I was a college wrestler at UPenn was a 2-3-day program preseason and in season, 4 days max in off-season. Wrestlers work harder than most athletes during each workout so can Jump Levels in 2-3 days per week.
4. Cater to specific athletes on the team. There are those Monsters I talked about before who get their Confidence from outworking their opponent. Zach recommends-Don’t make them miss workouts. Allow these Fanatics to hit the gym more frequently than others. I saw this firsthand with my brother Greg, who is one of those monsters whose Confidence came from a relentless training regimen. When he was told to pull back his training, it hurt his confidence, and ultimately his wrestling performance suffered until he upped the Intensity.
5. Strength, Mindset, and Wrestling are all positively correlated. Zach believes there is a strong tie between all 3 and I agree wholeheartedly. When you get Stronger, you are more confident (thus a better Mindset). When you are more confident your performance in Wrestling increases. I saw this first hand when I competed. I was long and lanky in HS, and got much better my first year in college. When coaches/friends asked what was the biggest difference, I told them I got a lot Stronger. Therefore, my confidence grew when I wrestled. It was easier to Finish takedowns, get out on bottom, handfight, break opponents down, mat return, defense Improved and on and on. Zach is right on with this one- Strength, Mindset, & Wrestling go hand and hand. Like my dad always told me, “A stronger wrestler is a better Wrestler” – all else equal you could hardly argue that.