Interview series with Ryan and Corey Hope


Ryan and Corey Hope
Ryan and Corey Hope

On February 5th, 2013, Corey and Ryan Hope will embark on a 4 month journey across the world to Armenia. The brothers will be traveling there to train with some of the world’s best Greco-Roman Wrestlers on their quest to become future Olympians. These two are clearly very passionate and driven and I am sure they will reach their goal.

Corey and Ryan were gracious enough to make some time to give us an interview telling us a little bit about their trip, their desire to compete and train with the best, and how other countries around the world stack up to America in terms of Strength, Conditioning, and Power (Hint: American’s are way behind). Ryan and Corey, thank you so much for your time. For starters, tell us a little about yourselves, your careers so far, and what you’re doing now.

Ryan: Corey and I trained at the Olympic Training Center in Marquette, Michigan for the last four and a half years. We got our degree there and were able to compete, train, and get an education there. We graduated in December and in that month and a half we’ve been fundraising for this trip to Armenia. Basically this trip is to get an inside view of what the foreigners do in regards to their training, their technique, their conditioning, their strengthening, flexibility, and also get the experience of competing and training with them. Armenia right now is one of the top 5, top 3 countries in the world for Greco-Roman Wrestling so when you train and compete with the best, once you get your tail kicked around, you start getting better. You understand what you did wrong, understand how to get better…

Corey: So you adapt. How long have you both been wrestling?

Ryan: Corey and I have been wrestling since 6th grade. What high school did you go to and what were your accomplishments?

Ryan: We were always a step or two behind in Folk style wrestling. We wrestled for great teams (Glenbard North) and were above average Folk style wrestlers, but we were never really exceptionally good. We didn’t really break into our ceiling until we graduated high school and went to the Training Center because we were very good in Greco and we got a chance to wrestle out there on scholarships. that’s when we started developing and really hit our peak. Being able to wrestle Greco there and learn the ties has really developed our folk style wrestling. Tell us about your strength and conditioning training in college.

Ryan: Our freshman year we had Ivan Ivanov from Bulgaria, and he used the Suples Bags. That was obviously his favorite tool in regards to training. Corey and I are huge fans of the Bulgarian Bags. We believe a lot of our functional strength came from those bags. They build a great base, but they also go beyond building a base.

I have heard great things about the coaching of Ivan Ivanov, the owner of Suples, Ltd.
I have heard great things about the coaching of Ivan Ivanov, the owner of Suples, Ltd.

After that we had Dennis Hall. He was very sports specific and he’s trained with the best all around the world and he picked their brains and see what worked for them. Ever since we got to that international level, you have to do your squats, your dead lifts, full Olympic Snatch, and full Olympic clean. A lot of people don’t realize is when you lift the weights and you have to catch at the bottom, you’re balancing the weight and you have to stand up with it, this helps when you have to lift someone. Dennis liked rope climbs, pullups, partner lifts, your cleans, squats, neck exercises and really getting your shoulders strong so you can hand fight like a nap dog.

Then we had Rob Hermann, and Aghasi Manukyan. Aghasi basically wrote the workouts. Aghasi is a world champ, so he knows the wrestling, he knows the strength, he knows the conditioning and his number one aspect is climbing ropes. When we worked out with him, a lot of it is really, you do your full clean, your full snatch, your speed pullups, your rope climbs, your neck bridges, some jumps, and military press with the kettle bells. We also did sprints in the snow, which helped with finding your balance. When you sprint in the snow, you don’t have as much balance when it’s knee high and when you try to sprint through that you have to drive through.

Rocky Agrees with Ryan and Corey's coaches
Rocky Agrees with Ryan and Corey’s coaches As a strength coach, a lot of the programming we see comes from the Eastern Bloc countries and unfortunately, it seems their Strength and Conditioning practices are superior to ours. As you both have wrestled internationally, do you feel this is the case with international competitors strength?

Ryan: By far. The foreigners are, I mean you lock up with the foreigners, they’re like a brick wall that can move. They’re like a leopard, they’re strong and also very agile. You may wrestle strong Americans but you find they are either very good technically and their strength is not very good, or their technique is not very good and they’re very strong. When you wrestle par terre position with the foreigners, they’ll use their strength and technique to make themselves feel 5 times stronger than they are. It’s much easier to lift the American’s. If you get over-unders with a guy from Kazakhstan, not only will you be at a great technique disadvantage, but they are SO MUCH stronger than you in that position.

Corey: One reason I think that’s why that is, is they don’t think so much about getting strong at certain lifts or certain muscles. They’re not worried about that, they’re worried about strengthening specific positions. So for example if they can’t swing up their left leg fast enough, what they’re gonna do is, they’re gonna find an exercise that will help supplement that. Everything is so sports specific. It’s not based on getting stronger with a body part, it’s about getting that movement stronger. One of the foreigner coaches used to have a saying “Big for nothing” for the Americans because they look big and their really strong in the weight room but they don’t know how to use that on the wrestling mat. Some Americans are strong in certain positions, but these guys (foreigners) are strong in almost every position because their weight program is so sports specific that they think of a position that they’re weak in and try to improve it.

* note: You see this phenomenon a lot in bodybuilding- Big guys who are “all show and no go” when it comes to strength. This is due to an increase of glycogen stores and fluid in muscle due to higher rep training instead of the building of “dense” strong muscle with lower rep training. More on this in a later article.

Who looks stronger?
Who looks stronger?
Who looks stronger?
Who looks stronger?
Was your answer right? Probably not.
Was your answer right? Probably not. Do you see a difference in American vs. International Weight Lifting?

Ryan: When you go there and train with them, the only time you go in the weight room with them is to do the Olympic Lifts. Basically, you do your squat, your clean and snatch and occasionally kettle bells and then some body weight stuff. Here in the US everyone is trying to get the heavier weight. To them, it’s not good to be big and bulky. All of their weightlifting is explosive. It’s gotta be lightning fast. So, if it’s not to the fastest of your ability, it’s too heavy. In the clean, some of those guys may never surpass 95 kilos, because they’re going as fast as they can (Note: ALWAYS train with the intent to produce speed and power!). Outside the weight room, a lot of it is with their partners, like walking around the room with your partner in a bear hug or doing bridges with a partner on your chest. How do you guys feel grip has helped you in your wrestling?:

Corey: You can’t hold a position if you don’t have a strong grip.

Ryan: Your grip plays a role in wrestling in many more areas than I think anyone will ever know. We don’t fully understand it, but it is pivotal. If you have a strong grip and the guy can’t get away and you can win the hand fight in all areas, you win the match. Guys, thank you so much for your time. Best of luck to you and have a safe trip, learn a lot and kick some ass out there! Anything you want to say to the readers?

Ryan: We leave tonight for Armenia for four months. so, we’ll be posting and blogging and doing videos and everything as far as technique and strength that we’ve learned and we’ve been able to capture. It’ll all be located on our website at

Good luck Ryan and Corey!!

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