WSBB Blog: GPP for Wrestlers
When it comes to the demand placed on absolute strength, explosive strength, strength endurance, and cardiovascular endurance, few sports compare to amateur wrestling. Amateur wrestling is often considered the ultimate test of raw human strength, speed, and skill. It doesn't get any simpler, follow a few rules, and do whatever you can to physically dominate your opponent.
If you want to shoot a fast and powerful takedown, you have to possess high levels of absolute and speed strength. If you're going to be able to control positioning and force your will onto your opponent, you have to possess high levels of strength and cardiovascular endurance. The question becomes, how does a wrestler prepare themselves for the rigors of day-to-day training while laying the foundation necessary to develop the strengths mentioned above and abilities further. The answer is GPP training.
GPP training, or general physical preparedness training, focuses on developing the foundation on which strength, speed, agility, and cardiovascular capacity are built. As Louie has said before, a pyramid can only be as tall as its base, meaning that an athlete can only attain high levels of athletic performance if they have the firm foundation to allow for it. Here are a few of the GPP exercises we use at Westside Barbell to elevate the GPP levels of our wrestlers.
Sled Drags / Sled Pushes
If you know Westside Barbell, then you know that we like to use the sled often. What makes the sled an excellent option for athletes is that most sleds are highly portable, making them able to be used anywhere. This works exceptionally well for wrestlers, considering not many wrestling rooms have a full-weight room attached. By having a few sleds at your facility, you are adding the tools necessary to build high levels of GPP and lower body strength endurance.
There are a few ways you can program sleds into your training plan. The first option is to perform conventional sled pulls. You'll be attaching the sled strap to a belt and dragging the sled forward, backward, or side-stepping. Additionally, you can also push the sled. Depending on the positioning, sled pushes can go all the way from difficult to absolutely grueling. For wrestlers, a good option is to load up a heavy sled, pushing it while in an upright position. This would be similar to the position you would be in if you were blocking in football. The second option is to push the sled in the low position, which is similar to a bear crawl while pushing the sled.
You can alternate the direction you pull, the weight loaded, the distance traveled, and the way you move the sled to create various exercises that will lead to increased GPP levels. The typical distance we pull the sled is between 15-25 yards.
Another one of our go-to GPP exercises is wheelbarrow walks. This exercise is performed just as you would expect; you will hold onto handles and walk a weight wheelbarrow for a specific amount of trips at a certain distance. At Westside, we are fortunate to have access to a training wheelbarrow that allows us to load plates onto the wheelbarrow. However, if you do not have access to such an implement, you can use a conventional wheelbarrow if the hauling capacity is heavy enough to match the weight you need to load to train optimally.
We have found that anywhere between 400 to 600lbs is optimal when performing wheelbarrow walks. The distance will vary based on the loaded weight, but the typical trip would be 25-30 yards. This will provide improvements in GPP levels, as well as improved grip strength.
This exercise is about as simple as it gets; it places a heavy yoke or barbell onto your shoulders, and you walk for a distance. We generally recommend using a yoke implement or SSB if possible; however, a regular squat bar will work. Yoke walks will focus on strengthening your legs, trunk, and upper back while training you to properly brace and control your trunk to create balance and stability.
At Westside, we typically have the athlete begin by carrying their body weight loaded onto the barbell, adding weight as the exercise becomes easy. The goal should be to move the heaviest yoke possible in the safest manner for the furthest distance. As far as distance goes, we walk the yoke 20-25 yards, all the way up to distances of 200-300 yards.
With the beginning of wrestling season arriving soon, now is the time to get the basic training done to prepare yourself for the rigors of practice and competition. Not only will GPP improve your ability to become stronger and more athletic. As mentioned above, you will also become more resilient and experience faster recovery rates between training sessions and competitions.
If you want to be the best, you must do the work required to be the best. GPP training will give you the foundation necessary to be your best.
Supertraining; by Dr. Mel Siff
Science and Practice of Strength Training; by Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorsky and Dr. William Kraemer
Westside Barbell Book of Methods; by Louie Simmons
Special Strengths Development for All Sports; by Louie Simmons