If you have ever trained with wrestlers you will quickly notice how strong they feel. Whether they are pulling on your head, squeezing your arms or establishing a bodylock. We will explore why wrestlers are so strong and what techniques they use to build and develop their impressive strength.
Why are wrestlers so strong? Wrestlers are so strong because wrestling increases your muscle mass particularly in the legs, arms, neck and back region. Wrestlers supplement their training with strength exercises. Wrestlers are experts at using leverage, being balanced and manipulating the human body by off balancing their opponents which makes them feel strong as a brick wall.
Does Wrestling Build Muscle?
Does wrestling build muscle? Yes, wrestling does build muscle. Grip fighting will build your shoulder and arm muscles. Moving in stance and shooting takedowns will develop your legs and back. Bridging and preventing snapdowns will develop your neck. All wrestling movements will build your abs. Look at high level wrestlers they are all muscular.
If you want to know if wrestling builds muscle simply try grip fighting with your training partner for 15 minutes at a high pace with no break. Try your hardest to establish 2 on 1s, underhooks, overhooks, bodylocks, headlocks. After the 15 minutes is up see how your arms and shoulders feel. Most likely your arms and shoulders will be full of blood and they will be burning. Wrestlers spend hours grip fighting every week for year and years it is no wonder they have such well defined and muscular arms and shoulders.
You won’t only get muscular arms and shoulder from wrestling. Wrestling will force your legs and back to explode. To see why wrestling builds your leg muscles get into a wrestling stance, don’t move, just maintain and solid low wrestling stance and see how your legs and back feel. Now imagine moving in different directions for hours and hours for years and years. It is obvious your legs and back will be forced to grow to cope with the stress of this workout.
Why Do Wrestlers Have Big Necks?
Why do wrestlers have big necks? Wrestlers have big necks as wrestling places significant stress (avoiding being pinned/ending up in a headlock and maintaining optimal neck position when shooting takedowns) on the neck which forces the neck to grow. Wrestlers also do special neck strengthening exercises such as bridges and headstands which thicken the neck.
Wrestling will result in your neck increasing in size as it responds to the stress placed on it from wrestling. Your neck will further grow after you continually perform neck strengthening exercises which help your neck handle the wear and tear from wrestling.
Wrestlers will continually attempt to pull on each others head to off balance their opponents. Wrestlers are always looking to grab a hold of their opponent’s head as it becomes easy to control and takedown an opponent if you have control of their neck. There is a famous saying in wrestling, “where the head goes the body will follow”.
To avoid having your head pulled and ending up in a headlock wrestlers keep a strong posture where they look up and keep their necks straight. Maintaining this position throughout a wrestling match even when shooting takedowns is difficult. Wrestlers’ necks adapt to this stress by growing.
A common move to avoid being pinned in wrestling is a bridge. Where an athlete will place their weight on their neck to avoid having their shoulder’s touch the mat. This requires a lot of neck strength to perform. Wrestlers will practice bridging significantly and combine this exercise with other neck strengthening moves such as headstands, placing a weight plate on their neck and moving the neck back and forth and moving the neck in different directions while wearing a weighted harness. This exercises cause the neck to explode resulting in wrestlers having big necks.
Do Wrestlers Lift Weights?
Here Is Olympic Gold Medalist Kyle Snyder Lifting Weights
Do wrestlers lift weights? Yes, wrestlers do lift weights. Weightlifting is very popular among US wrestlers and common but less popular among international wrestlers. Wrestlers typically do kettlebells, powerlifting movements, olympic weightlifting exercises, weighted dips/pullups, weighted situps and neck harness exercises.
Wrestling’s strength is related to their strength and conditioning programs. Wrestlers are known for not only their grueling workouts on the mat but also pushing themselves very hard in the gym. Wrestlers develop their strength by lifting weights and performing a variety of strength exercises which target the legs, back, neck, arms, shoulders and abs.
Here Are Some Common Exercises Wrestlers Use To Get Strong:
- Kettlebell movements – curls, press, push press, lateral raises, front raises
- Barbell movements – curls, press, push press
- Dumbbell movements – curls (hammer, conventional, reverse), press, lateral raises, front raises
- Picking up barbell plates with one hand and flipping them
- Weighted dips
- Kettlebell movements – swings, clean, deadlift, goblet squat, turkish get up, snatch
- Barbell movements – clean and jerk, push press, snatch, upright row, bent over row
- Dumbbell movements – one arm row, push press
- Weighted pull ups
- Reverse hyper
- Weighted neck harness – move neck in different directions
- 4 way neck exercise – place weight plate on neck, move neck side to side, up and down
Wrestlers’ Optimal Use Of Body Mechanics
Wrestlers may not be nearly as strong as you think. I have trained with wrestlers who felt extremely strong on the wrestling mat however they never lifted weights and would struggle to deadlift 225 pounds. The reason that a lot of wrestlers feel so strong is because they have great technique and they have a deep understanding of optimal body mechanics.
For example you are an average wrestler, you go to your BJJ gym’s wrestling class and you have a decent double leg. A college wrestler drops into your BJJ gym and wants to go live with you. You start the round, move around and then bam you think you have found a good opportunity to shoot a double leg. You change levels and launch yourself at the wrestler only to feel like you have run into a brick wall. You bounce off the wrestler who didn’t move an inch. You are mystified at how strong this wrestler is as this move usually causes your BJJ training partners to end up flying across the room.
Lets examine what happened here. It is isn’t that the college wrestler is so strong that prevented your double leg takedown from even moving him an inch. It is the fact that when you shot your takedown when the wrestler was balanced, his feet where placed in the optimal position, he saw your attack coming and he thrust his hips into your attack. The college wrestling used correct technique combined with optimal body mechanics which resulted in the illusion of superhuman strength.
If before you had launched your attack you had got the wrestler off balanced, disguised your attack and launched the attack before the wrestler was able to react effectively the wrestler would not have felt nearly as strong and there is a strong possibility you would have launched him across the mat.
Hobbyist Vs Competitor
Many BJJ practitioners are shocked at how strong wrestlers are when they come across them in BJJ gyms. However there a few things to consider. BJJ is largely a hobbyist sport where there are a lot of older and non athletic people training who took up the sport later in life. Interestingly it is common to find people training BJJ as 30 plus year olds who have never trained in any other sports before trying BJJ.
Wrestling is the opposite, wrestling is a purely competition focused sport where all athletes compete and the goal is to become a champion. It is going to be very different going live against Bob the non athletic 43 year old accountant who has been training BJJ twice a week for a couple of years and Ricky the 24 year old wrestler who has been wrestling since he is 5 years old and has competed hundreds of times, trains 5 days a week and has goals of becoming an Olympic medalist. The physicality and mindset you are going to encounter is very different.
Wrestlers are so strong because wrestling forces your muscles to grow as your body reacts to the immense stress the sport places on your neck, legs, back, arms and shoulders. Wrestlers compound this muscle growth effect by lifting weights and performing strength exercises such as powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting and kettlebell exercises. Even though wrestlers are typically strong and muscular their strength is exaggerated as their technical proficiency and use of optimal body mechanics makes them feel stronger than they are.