I grew up on a farm in the Midwest. I engaged in a large volume of physical work over the years. I lifted and loaded thousands of bales of hay and straw. I brought buckets of corn and water. I carried sacks of lime and feed. I dug holes for fence posts. I hit the metal fence posts on the ground. I pushed the wheel bars and swung the hammers from time to time. I loaded stones and pieces of wood. I pushed brooms and pulled bunk beds. I climbed an 80 foot silo from time to time. I walked all over our property. All of this activity helped me build a solid foundation of physical fitness. I was never “out of shape”.
When you are in the process of designing your wrestling conditioning program, you need to keep in mind the concept of General Physical Preparation (GPP). GPP provides basic general conditioning in areas such as endurance, strength, speed, agility, coordination, and flexibility. GPP often involves the use of compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups. The GPP can be weighted or unweighted. General physical preparation increases your ability to do more work. Therefore, the concept of work capacity is closely related to that of GPP.
According to conditioning expert Matt Wiggins, using GPP will increase your work capacity. At higher work capacity, a higher volume of conditioning can be done. Having a higher work capacity is like having a bigger “gas tank.” If you have a high work capacity then you won’t “exhaust” towards the end of a wrestling match.
A fighter will absolutely benefit from increased work capacity. He will be prepared for intense work and will be able to recover more quickly. For example, if you are fighting three matches in one day in a tournament, work capacity and recovery are extremely important.
A fighter must be prepared to fight hard for six or seven minutes. Improving work capacity allows a fighter to train harder and more often. Remember to build a bigger “gas tank”.
Examples of weighted GPP:
- sled drag
- Sandbag lifting
- mallet swing
- medicine ball throws
- flip tires
Examples of unweighted GPPs:
- jumping jacks
- mountain climbers
Athletes and Hard Work
Dan Gable spent his summers during high school working for a construction company and sawmill. He liked to unload truckloads of sacks of cement and wood. He raised cement blocks at the construction site. He got up at five in the morning so he could run six kilometers to work.
Boxers used to saw wood and split it with an ax as part of their training. They also used to do construction work that involved lifting, digging, sawing, and hammering. Boxing legend Rocky Marciano did all that and more. He used to stand in a well and throw stones out of it.
Another boxing legend, James J. Braddock, used to walk miles every day looking for work after his boxing career stalled. He sometimes worked on the docks unloading railroad ties. Braddock was no stranger to hard manual labor. When he got the chance to box again, he became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
Finnish powerlifters are known for their skill in the deadlift. Most of them had hard-working backgrounds, such as lumberjacks, construction workers, farmers, or something similar. They loaded, lifted and dragged for a living. Similarly, legendary strongman Bill Kazmaier was an oilman and lumberjack in his youth.
What I mean here is that hard manual labor is basically GPP training. As you can see, many great athletes have a history of hard manual labor. Does this mean you have to work on a farm or a construction site? No. Just find a good GPP program and work to develop your job skills. You can lift sandbags instead of cement bags. You can train with a mallet instead of chopping wood with an axe. You can take dumbbells instead of corn cubes. Improving your work capacity will allow you to train harder and more often. Spend some time researching the GPP and work capacity.
Working on your GPP and work capacity will help you build a strong foundation. As he enters his competitive season, he may begin training designed more specifically for wrestling. Remember that wrestling is primarily an anaerobic sport (ie with oxygen). The anaerobic system is what will primarily need to be worked on after the season starts. Your most specific training will simply involve wrestling. If you have done a sufficient number of GPPs and have developed your ability to work, the training to follow will be much more effective.