Archives For #RaiseTheBar

Hey Gabe,

How should I lift for the off-season vs the season and how do I peak for big events? I feel like I’m never at my strongest when I need to be.


Jeff from Iowa


Great question, Jeff. As we all know, there’s a great saying that goes like this:

That is so true in Strength and Conditioning as well. If you don’t have a YEAR LONG (yes, year long) plan in place, then you won’t be prepared when big events come.

So, how do we plan things out?

Here are a few things we need to consider first:

Block System


Here at Stronger Wrestle, we utilize a “Block” Training system. The Annual plan is a Macrocycle, made up of Mesocycles, which are made up of Microcycles.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on the MesoCycles. There are 3 types of “Blocks” (or Mesocycles) within the system. They are:


This is a basic phase and generally the longest. The focus is General Athleticism, Max Strength, and Aerobic Endurance. This is best done at the beginning portion of the season or off-season to lay a strength foundation for the next phase.

Rules: Focus on strength (80-95% on compound lifts). Speed is not a huge factor…yet! Volume should be moderate to high. This phase is generally 4-6 weeks.


This is where we start to turn that Strength we gained from Accumulation into Speed/Power. Bar Velocity is INCREDIBLY important in this phase and the next.

Rules: Focus on Speed-Strength (55-80% compound lifts). Volume will be lower. Bar speed must be high. This phase is generally 2-4 weeks.


This phase should be the closest to big competition and is much shorter in length. The nervous system is trained and primed to move as fast and powerfully as possible. Everything done during this period must be done with 100% intensity and plenty of rest.

Rules: Focus on speed (<55%). Can be done for reps OR for time (40% squat for as many reps in 8 seconds). Volume is low. This phase generally lasts 1-3 weeks. Plyometrics are used a lot here.

Practice Schedule

Again, one of the reason the Strength and Conditioning volume tapers closer to a big competition is the increased volume at practice. Many coaches run two a days starting in January and it would be foolish to overtrain and risk decreased performance or even injury.

Training Residuals

Remember, we’re training for OPTIMAL performance at big events so we want to have as many advantages as possible. Training adaptations like Maximal Strength and Aerobic Endurance (Physiological) aren’t lost as quickly as things like Speed (Neural).

Therefore, we plan out the best way to have all the desirable training effects at the same time.



Component Residual Effect (days) Characteristics
Speed (maximal)   5 ±3 Neuromuscular and motor control, creatine phosphate recovery (Fast and powerful shots)
Strength Endurance 15 ±5 Slow twitch fiber hypertrophy, aerobic/anaerobic enzyme activity, local blood circulation, lactate tolerance (Ability to still be strong in the 3rd period or overtime)
Anaerobic Gycolytic Endurance 18 ±4 Anaerobic enzyme activity, lactate accumulation rate, buffering capacity, glycogen storage (Ability to still be powerful in the 3rd period or overtime)
Aerobic endurance 30 ±5 Aerobic enzymes activity, mitochondria number, glycogen storage, muscle capillaries, fat oxidation rate (Large gas tank)
Strength (maximal) 30 ±5 Neural control, muscular hypertrophy (Strong grip, lifts, etc)

Example of Residual Training Effects within Target Peak Date

Max Strength/Aerobic Endurance
—->  Competition
< 30 ±5 days
Anaerobic Glycolytic Endurance
< 18 ±4 days
Maximal Speed
< 5 ±3 days

 Putting it together

I understand this is a LOT to process. But it’s an important step in formulating a plan for your wrestlers as a coach. Thankfully, I’m making it a little easier. Here is a full calendar detailing the most important events in a high school wrestlers career and how to plan it out.


Click to enlarge




ACTIVE REST-NO WRESTLING!! Play tennis, soccer, etc. Just don’t look at a mat. (The Eastern Europeans do this often. And they do alright…it’s ok to allow your mind and body a break)

OFF-Literally, off. REST

AA-ANATOMICAL ADAPTATION. Essentially priming your body for the new cycle. This is done when you have taken a few weeks off from training.


So there you have it. A year long plan for peaking and building the Stronger Wrestler.





1. of or pertaining to athletes; involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina:
This guy was kinda strong

Strength. Check. Agility. Check. Stamina. Check.

There are many great wrestlers out there. Some who showcase incredible technique that wows us. Some have unbelievable strength that impresses us. Some demonstrate speed and quickness that awes us. Some present conditioning that amazes us. This article is meant to discuss those who have the latter 3.

A little over a year ago, FloWrestling’s 2nd annual Who’s #1 event wowed the wrestling community from start to finish. I had the opportunity to go out to the inaugural event last year to watch one of my athletes’ compete and it was an incredible experience. Flo pulls out all the stops and delivers not only great wrestling, but also a very attractive and well put together package for the casual and new wrestling fan. In case you missed it, check out the highlights below:

Great wrestling was shown all around, and each wrestler who competed was an incredible athlete. Who were the best athletes there though? We know how important athleticism is for a high school wrestler transitioning to college. In college, everyone is bigger, faster, and stronger. Here are the 5 wrestlers who stood out to me the most athletically and who I believe would have no problem jumping right into the college ranks right now.

#5 Cade Olivas

Not many lighter weights pack the athletic punch that Cade does

Not many lighter weights pack the athletic punch that Cade does

While he may not quite weigh enough to compete in college yet, he certainly has the physical tools. Cade was quick, strong, and show off a few Aaron Pico-like snap downs. It was clear that he was the much more physically dominant man during tie ups as he moved his opponent with relative ease. The 106 lb weight class is usually not filled with physical powerhouse’s due to the generally younger age of those competing in this weight class (check out an article I wrote on grip strength which illustrates this point here). That being said, it was clear that Cade doesn’t subscribe to that theory as he is not only a great technician, but a great athlete on the mat as well.

#4 Matt Kolodzik

If you want to know why Matt Kolodzik belongs at #4, then start by watching the 3rd period of his match with former #1 Ke-Shawn Hayes. Kolodzik was incredibly physical in riding him and not giving him an inch of space. There was one point in the 3rd where he made picking up his opponent and mat returning him look as easy as picking up an 80 pounder.

Matt Kolodzik completely wore down Hayes in the 3rd, and looked great in the first two periods as well. He didn’t seem to be in any danger and controlled the whole match from start to finish with a physical presence displaying speed and strength.

#3 Bobby Steveson

This dude is a powerhouse! About 10 seconds into the match Bobby Steveson showed us a strong set of hips in shrugging off his opponents’ takedown attempt. On the two takedown’s he scored, he showed us great speed and quickness, especially for a big man. And, in the 3rd period, well, he did this:

Brutal mat return right on his face

Brutal mat return right on his face

I believe one of the comments on Flo’s website said it best with this:

Can Bobby walk through walls? He’s a TANK!

Minnesota is getting a STUD.

#2 Daton Fix and Nick Suriano

These two bad-asses were like the energizer bunny

These two bad-asses were like the energizer bunny

Are you kidding me?? The longest high school match ever at 32+ minutes. These guys should both be proud of themselves. The thing that impressed me the most wasn’t the amount of time they went, it was how fast they were STILL in overtime. Power Endurance is not just about having gas in the tank at the end of the match (or overtime), it’s about being able to still exhibit a high power output at the end of the match! It doesn’t matter how in shape you are for a long match if you can’t shoot or throw or mat return with power, speed, and authority. These two gentleman both showed great power endurance, as well as incredible heart to give us wrestling fans one of the most memorable high school matches of all time.

 Check out the highlights of their match here


#1 Mark Hall


Was there even a question here? Mark Hall’s Strength, Speed, and Stamina were on full display here as he cruised to a Major Decision over the #1 pound for pound wrestler in the country. It was clear he was the more athletic wrestler from the start as he easily fought for and took double underhooks for his first takedown of the night. From there, he continued to physically dominate his opponent utilizing strong riding, brutal mat returns, and even showcasing an incredibly strong neck to bridge out of a very bad position. (Learn more about developing a strong neck here)

Don’t believe me? Just ask Kyle Dake, another ridiculously athletic wrestler:

Mark Hall has been a physical and wrestling prodigy for a while now and it clearly shows. He is world class not only in technique, but in athleticism as well. I’d love to hear what his Strength and Conditioning Program has consisted of over his career.

Now go train!

If you watched some of these videos and realized you have the technique, but are lacking in the athleticism then you need to get to work! Wrestling season is upon us but there is still time to get stronger, faster, and increase your conditioning level. Follow us on facebook or twitter for tips and tricks and check out the following article below for a FREE In-Season Wrestling Strength Program.

Wrestling In-Season Program

For a free eBook and Downloadable Pull-up Program fill out your name and email below.




Enter your email below for a free eBook, “5 Steps to becoming a Stronger



Dr. Ralph Cornwell

Dr. Ralph Cornwell

Concussions have been an incredibly prevalent and controversial topic over the past few years. The NFL recently settled a landmark lawsuit, and many other sports, both male and female, are seeing large instances of brain trauma due to concussions. With athletes becoming bigger, stronger, and more physical every year, it seems this problem will only get worse. Thankfully, Dr. Ralph Cornwell is working on changing that.

Recently I had the pleasure to interview a cutting edge neck researcher in Dr. Ralph Cornwell. Dr. Cornwell has worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at numerous programs including Westpoint and the Washington Redskins. Since that time, he is now currently traveling the world educating Professional, Collegiate, and High School Sports programs on the benefits and protocol he has set up for training the neck. He is as passionate as he is knowledgeable on neck strengthening, and I learned a great deal from him. Check out his research dissertation here.


I had initially planned on making it a simple interview similar to what you’ve seen previously in the interview series. However, due to his passion in his field, and our shared mutual interest in improving and strengthening the human body, we tended to veer off-topic. I’d like to post some things that I learned from that I believe will help you in your wrestling as well as concussion prevention.


Concussions may not be 100% preventable, but we can get close.

Continue Reading…

One of the searches I see the most to my website is something along the lines of “how to get stronger for high school wrestling” or “in-season high school wrestling strength training”. Y’all asked, so I’m gonna answer. In fact, if you stay with me through the whole article I’ll give you a free program I use with my wrestling athletes.

Before we get started, here are some of the common themes I see in the successful high school wrestler when it comes to Strength and Conditioning:

Consistency and discipline

If you want to become stronger for next season, you must be disciplined, and you have to want it! Training will require a lot of consistent hard work, as no one becomes strong by training “every once in a while”. If you’re prepared for that, then you can expect great gains. Just like practicing once a month won’t do anything for your wrestling skills, inconsistency will rob you of any results in the weight room. The mark of a true champion is someone who does things that others aren’t willing to do.


Embrace the Grind

Embrace the Grind

Wrestling Specificity

It’s important that you train the way a WRESTLER trains. Football players, hockey players, and wrestlers do not train the same way. You need to realize that.

A wrestlers strength training and conditioning program should include a steady diet of Squats (Back/Front/Zercher), Deadlifts, Pullups, Rows, Direct Grip Training, Neck Exercises, Shoulder Presses, Sprints, Broad Jumps, Anterior AND Rotational trunk work, and lots of flexibility and mobility drills.

While that is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s a great start and significantly better than the standard “Squat, Bench, Clean” list you see in most high school programs. Once you start training specific movements and exercises that mimic wrestling, you will see your strength on the mat skyrocket.

Willingness to be “uncomfortable”

It’s imperative that you are willing to be uncomfortable. Do the things you’re bad at because it will only make you better.

Do you suck at pullups? Do more pullups.

Is your deadlift weak? Deadlift and strengthen your trunk.

Is your grip strength embarrassing? Do more grip work.

Many people shy away from things they’re bad at. Not you though, you’re a champion; and champions embrace being uncomfortable.

Goal setting and goal getting

If you don’t set goals and track your progress you will not reach your highest potential. That is a fact proven over and over again. In fact, in the book “The One Thing”, I recently read research that “individuals with written goals were 39.5% more likely to succeed.” Furthermore, “those who wrote their goals down AND sent progress reports to friends were 76.7% more likely to achieve them”.

The point is this: Not only should you write out your training goals (the sheet has space for that), but you should also have progress reports too. Thankfully, in weightlifting progress reports are fairly easy. If your weights are going up, you’re well on your way to success.


Attack mode

Every great wrestler I’ve ever worked with had what I call an “Attack mentality”. Once they got into the weight room, they were ready to attack their session-that was the only thing on their mind.

Too often people at the gym are busy taking selfies, checking facebook, and talking on the phone instead of training! If that sounds like you, then either stop it or get out of the gym. You’re wasting your time.

He's right

He’s right


Without further adieu, here is the program as promised. Simply enter your email below and you’ll be immediately taken to the page with a free downloadable wrestling pre-season program. For anyone who has questions about various exercises, please email me at

Remember, those who train hard now are the ones who stand on top of podiums in February and March.





Enter your email below for a free eBook, “5 Steps to becoming a Stronger



Editors Note:

*While this isn’t specifically wrestling related, it is an important read. As wrestling grows, parents are more and more inclined to keep their child wrestling year round. While I only have anecdotal evidence to back it up, most of the best wrestlers I have worked with played multiple sports at some time in their life. Those who only wrestled often times were less fluid in their movements, and it became a disadvantage later in their careers. The Eastern European Wrestlers are notorious for taking time off to play soccer, handball, and other sports not related to wrestling. Just a thought…

Tiger Woods did it

So your kid should too…right? Here’s the blueprint:

Step 1: Pick and start one sport at the age of two.

Step 2: Only play and practice that sport.

Step 3: Win amateur championships.

Step 4: Get a college scholarship.

Step 5: Turn pro and make a billion (with a B) dollars.

Little Tiger

Little Tiger

Just stop

I’m not advocating this. In fact, I think it’s ludicrous. As a society I fear we’ve gone to the extreme on both spectrums. Continue Reading…