You have three quick periods to pin your opponent, so time is of the essence. As the seconds tick away and your muscles begin to burn from exhaustion, you have to dig deep to come out on top. If you're in better condition than the guy you're tied up with, you'll have the upper hand.
According to Josh Eidson, assistant strength and conditioning coach at Indiana University, "Even though you're on the mat for three-minute periods, it is one of the most intense activities you will ever do."
Strength is a key component of wrestling, but being well-conditioned is your trump card. "If you're gassed in the first minute, you're going to be at your weakest [point]," Eidson says. "Well-conditioned athletes are going to have a better chance to reach their athletic potential."
That is why the Hoosiers condition yearround and come into the season in top physical shape. During the summer, besides hitting the weight room, Indiana wrestlers spend four days a week running four miles a day.
Once the athletes return to school, the conditioning hammer is dropped again. That's when speed-endurance conditioning begins. Eidson tests his wrestlers' off-season conditioning by putting them through the Interval Running drill twice a week. Wrestlers who struggle to finish can look forward to spending more time conditioning and less time strengthening.
• To warm up, jog from end zone to end zone for one minute
• Rest for 90 seconds; sprint for one minute
• Actively rest by jogging for one minute
• Begin mixing work-to-active-recovery rest times in one-minute intervals [sprint for 45 seconds, jog for 15 seconds; sprint for 30, jog for 30; sprint for 20, jog for 40]
• Work continuously for 10 minutes
• Gradually increase training to 20 minutes once your body can handle it
Benefits of the Drill: Simulates unpredictability of intensity during a match // Helps athletes fight through fatigue // Effective as weight-monitoring exercise
Variations: Alternate between running forward, back-pedaling and side shuffles to work all planes of motion.
Coaching Points: Coach keeps the intervals unpredictable to mimic changes in tempo during a wrestling match // Do not pace yourself // Do not stop moving to catch your breath
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock