British Wrestlers Reunion
Strengthening the Ring of Friendship





The best training for wrestling is to wrestle. Five rounds of “Catch as Catch Can” , three times a week, is enough exertion with full recovery time for anyone to give them a full body work out. However if you really wish to excel, improve, or just go from beginner to winner, then to supplement your wrestling lessons with regular weight training, is the real way ahead. Competitors in any sport, always seek that little extra to give them an advantage over their opponents and there is no doubt a muscular strong body, is truly a bonus to anyone wishing to risk life and limb in the square ring. Why bother to add weight training to your normal wrestling regimes? The answer is, if two men are equally skilful, then the fittest, strongest, man will win the contest.

The founder of the Olympic games, Baron Pierre do Coubertin wrote famously, “The important thing in the Olympic games is not winning, but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering, but fighting well”. The purpose of this article is to try and help you  fight well.

The best wrestlers are taught by the best wrestling coaches. Sounds simple, but it is true. A good coach will teach you how to avoid bad habits right from the start. First you are taught the basics, how to fall without injury, how to develop full body strength with exercises, endurance training, lasting power, good principles of nutrition and the importance of recuperation, and finally the  wrestling holds, locks, pressure points and ring craft. Fighting psychology and the art of showmanship follows in time and with experience.

The first step on this rugged road is to have some inspiration. Every goal in life is at first pictured in your mind. Find a hero, watch the matches, and it is good news that wresting is definitely making a comeback since the cruel killing off from T.V by Greg Dyke .Despite the viewers numbering more than those who watched the cup final back in the day, wrestling on the television pulled in more customers. Now it is definitely, making a come- back, watch out for announcements from your local halls or stadium for the good news. The fans are returning and new champions are emerging, to see new villains and to cheer for the “baby face” when he turns the lost match into a win for fair play and sportsmanship.

The first step in this rugged road is as we said inspiration. From recent history, Strongmen and wrestlers have always had a close affinity. From Sandow, Hackenschmidt, the Italian circus strong man  Clevio Massimo, who boasted that he could “Lift half a ton in the wrestlers bridge”, through Man Mountain , El Primo or Primo Carnera who once held the heavy weight boxing title of the world, Bert Assirati, a great strong man as well as wrestler. More modern bodybuilders and iron men, the big armed man Peter Deakin, John Lees, the uncrowned Mr Universe, Spencer Churchill, Earl Maynard, 1964 Mr Universe, who switched regularly from bodybuilding to wrestling and back, and even arch villain of them all Mick Mc Manus, came into wrestling by first using weight training. These names are just a tiny sample, modern examples would include Dwayne Johnson or The Rock, bodybuilder, wrestler and now movie icon. There is no doubt about it, bodybuilding, weight training is the way to your dream.

Next step, after attending as many wrestling events as you can, find and join a good gymnasium which includes a wrestling coach, of if lucky you may even find a wrestling only club. Once joined, follow the instructions to the letter, taking out insurance for injuries, wrestling is a tough game, perhaps the toughest of all physical sports, certainly the oldest with Egyptian tombs depicting hieroglyphics of wrestlers and wrestling holds.

Following your coach’s advice, including the basics of how too fall, as most rings are not as soft as the bouncing castle type of ring the US television grapplers appear to prefer. Then come basic hold, throws, pressure points, locks, hooks, and ring craft, the latter taking longer to learn than most believe. To supplement this craft training, comes making the effort to improve your physical condition, become fitter, stronger, more endurance and more muscular. This brings us on to the extra effort of sticking to a weight training schedule, training three times a week on full body workouts, with extra nutrition to help build and sustain added growth and energy.

The staple exercise for any boxer or wrestler is the much hated “road work” the regular grind of running several miles a day early in the morning before breakfast is allowed. To replace this unpopular form of endurance building, most fighters now use machines in gyms for their running. It’s easier to go from the running machine to the weights than face the elements. But if you really want to be tough, it’s still a good idea to stick with the long-recognised benefits of outdoor running, pounding the pavements. For the final decision, ask your coach and follow his advice. Modern traffic with its fumes and the sheer danger of running along a busy, may not be so good an idea.

So you want to be a wrestler? You are learning the rough and tumble of grappling and the multi various holds and throws. So now comes the suggested weight training routine to build up power and physique. We recommend you train just three sessions a week, with at least one day in-between workouts, you may also have to decide when to train if your wrestling schedule also falls on the same day. Remember the wrestling tuition takes precedence over all other advice.


The schedule suggested is to be followed for about six to eight weeks, after which you can change it around, using similar exercises for the main body parts i.e. variations of sets, repetitions and actual exercises. Always begin your exercises with a first light set to warm up the muscles, then as you add sets, also add a gradual increase of weights, so your last set is the hardest to complete the number of repetitions suggested. Take just enough time between exercise to retain normal breathing, then carry on with the schedule. You can if you wish also warm up with some light calisthenics

Exercise One, with exercise illustrations by Chris Bostick aka “Sticks”

Upright Rowing with barbell, a warming up exercise, also to work your forearms, biceps, deltoids and trapezius muscles. 3 sets of 10 repetitions (from here on as “reps”)

Exercise Two. 

The best exercise in the world for basic chore- strength, muscle building and overall endurance. Squats.

Using a barbell either taken out of racks or lifted to your shoulders by two training partners/buddies. To help with balance some use two discs to stand on with their heels. Do not bounce in the low position, as long as the top of thighs go down to parallel with the floor its ok. Reps are higher than most exercises to gain all round benefits, so we suggest 3 sets of 12 reps. When the exercise becomes easy, then add more weight to the barbell. Make sure you have spotters around, that’s training partners ready to lift the weight off your shoulders if   for example you fail to complete the lift.

Exercise Three

Dumbell Flying

Ignoring the above advice about resting, in this case and only this case, immediately lay down onto your bench and with a dumbbell in each hand, perform 3 sets of dumbbell flying, an exercise to expand your chest and build up mighty pectorals. It is a good idea to slightly keep the elbows unlocked to avoid strain to the elbow joint.  After the three sets, now recover your breath to continue with

Exercise Four.

Dumbbell Rowing.

You will find you can use quite a good weight for this exercise, designed to develop the biceps, rear deltoids and the latissimus muscles, or the “lats” these muscles will help with grappling and pulling your opponent towards you. Try 4 sets of 8 reps, perform by using one arm at a time, bend over and rest your non- exercising arm on the bench and pull the dumbbell up and back as high as you can, immediately swop arms and repeat.

Exercise Five

Alternate Dumbbell presses.


This exercise is done standing and in see saw fashion, you lower one arm, you raise the other. Make sure dumbbells are secure. Great exercise for arms, triceps and shoulders. Try 3 x 8

Exercise Six.


 Dead Lifts

not named because of how it makes you feel, but because you are lifting a “dead” weight, ie. No jerking or prior movement. Just stand behind a loaded barbell, use the alternate grip hold, ie. One hand facing front, one hand facing rear, this way stops the bar rolling out of your hands. make sure you use your legs in the lift and keep your back/spine as straight/upright as you can to avoid low back strain. Begin with light weights, to warm up, then gradually add poundage. use low reps of 6 to 8 and sets up to 5. This exercise is the daddy of them all, builds total body power essential when fighting in the ring or using throws.

That is it, a brief, but tough schedule, if you find it easy, then you are not using enough poundage, so add more weights, later you can substitute exercises, eg. Front squats for back squats, bench presses with barbell instead of dumbbells, barbell curls for biceps. The list is endless and your coach or gym owner will be able to advise.

Finally, two exercises, without weights that are essential to wrestling are. One wrestlers -bridges, lay on the floor facing up, lift your body so it is supported by just your heels and top of head. There by making your neck do the work. You can strengthen the neck with self- resistance exercises, twist and turn your head at the same time resist the movement with your hand for up to 15 reps.

The other great move to include at any time is called “Hyperextensions” here you lay face down on the bench so the top of your body overhangs, get a partner to sit on your heels to prevent you over turning, then lift your upper body, like a hinge to work the lower spine muscles. Do just two sets of 15 reps, this can be done any time. Have I forgotten anything? How about sit ups?? No never do sit ups or leg raises with STRAIGHT LEGS, if you wish work for the abdominals, use “crunches” where you just curl up your body for about six inches from the floor, hold, tense the abdominal muscles, then lower, with spine always bent. Again, an anytime anywhere exercise.

Good luck, see you on the next top of the bill.

David Gentle © britishwrestlersreunion. Com  2017