Weight-Lifting for Wrestlers

 12x12 6-minute Wrestler Weight-lifting routine

  • Designed to be done with a single weight bar (e.g. 40 lbs), same weight for all exercises
  • Do one set of 12 repetitions of each of the 12 exercises below. (Hence: “12 by 12”)
  • You should do this in 6 minutes +/- 30 seconds.
    • If it takes less than 5-1/2 minutes, add weight the next time.
    • If it takes more than 6-1/2 minutes, you can remove weight the next time.
  • Do quickly but properly, without taking a break.
  • Background: This routine was supposedly designed by an Oklahoma or Iowa doctor for his wrestler son. It is designed to be an intensive, constant, six minutes of exercise. The exercises are reasonably balanced with a number of exercises specifically inspired by and designed for wrestlers.
  • Track your progress by noting the weight used each day; increase when the current weight gets too easy.

Dead Lifts Lift weight from ground to hips (keep your back straight! lift with hips)
Reverse Curls Basic curls w/ palms facing away; standing, lift bar from thighs to chest
Squats Bar behind neck, squat (protect knees! don't squat too far)
Bend Overs Standing with weight behind neck, bend forward ("Good Mornings")
Side Bends Standing with weight behind neck, bend to each side
Toe Raises Standing with weight behind neck, stand on toes (not too fast)
Lunges Stand w/ bar behind neck, "lunge" (big step) forward, alternate L/R
Regular Curls Basic curls w/ palms face-up; standing, lift bar from thighs to chest
Bent-over Rowing Bend forward at waist with hands apart; rowing with weight
Upright Rowing Standing upright with bar at thighs & hands apart; pull to chest
Overhead Press Standing with weight in front at shoulders; press overhead
Bridge Press From a wrestler's bridge (head on pillow or mat); do "bench press"

Weight-lifting for wrestling 
by Doug Weiss, Swarthmore Trainer (1980; last revised: 11/21/93)

  • Designed for Nautilus-type equipment, especially for "pull-down" exercises, for those exercises that require weights
  • Intended to be done fairly quickly (20-35 minutes)
  • Do four sets of the exercises below (in order!):
    • 1st set do 6 repetitions (this is like a warm-up)
    • 2nd set do 8 repetitions
    • 3rd set do 10 repetitions
    • 4th set do 12 repetitions
  • Designed to strengthen opposing muscle groups. 
  • You should choose a weight for each exercise that you can do all of the repetitions for each set, burning out on the last set. i.e. You are supposed to choose a weight for each exercise that you can do for all four sets in a work-out session. e.g. If you should choose 50 lbs for Upright Rowing, you would use that weight for all four sets. 
  • You should chart your progress by simply noting the weight that you used for each day for each exercise, and gradually increase the weight as it gets easier to finish the routine.

Abdominals Sit-ups--no weights, just reps--e.g. 15,20 per set
Arm Curls Sitting-regular curl, palms up
Triceps Extensors Standing w/ pull-down, start w/ arms bent in reverse-curl position--hands at neck (i.e. start "curled" or bent), extend to 90∞ from waist
Posterior Lats Standing, hands above you (spread or close?), pull-down in front to chest
Shoulder Press Regular upright press; using bench press machine, sitting & facing weights
Hip Flexor No weights, reps--Rest on arms with legs dangling, lift legs to 90∞ in front
Upright Row Standing upright with hands close together, pull bar from hips to chin
Rev Shoulder Press Reverse upright press, sitting and facing away from weights.
Anterior Lats Behind pull-down; hands apart behind head, pull bar down to behind neck
Bench Press Regular bench press
Shoulder Shrug Hold weights at thighs, shrug shoulders
Wrist rolls reps e.g. 2; w/ a bar-rope-weights setup) Hold hands in front 90∞ w/ body


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