How to Build Explosive Power for Wrestling

article Apr 02, 2017
By: Jake Tanenbaum

Part 3/5 - Power

There’s 10 seconds left in the match, it’s a tie score, most wrestlers would wait it out until it the end of the period. But not this guy, he knows intuitively how much time is left and he sees his opponent start to let up. He lowers his level, and bam! Blast double leg for 2 with time running out. There’s no time to escape, which puts him at a huge advantage going up 2 at the end of the period. Who is he? His name is Jordan Burroughs, watch any of his matches and you’ll see a pattern. That guy loves to score within the final seconds of a period. How does he do it? With his explosive power.

In wrestling, power is essential to get those quick takedowns, escapes, or just flat out put some points on the board in a quick manner. In case you aren’t sure who Burroughs is, although I’m sure you do, he is a 3x World and Olympic Champion, and he made himself one of the best ever because of his power. Here are some ways to develop that explosiveness in your game:

The difference between strength and power

There’s a big difference between strength and power. Strength can be defined as the ability to move heavy weights. Conversely, power can be defined as to move or travel with great speed or force. The difference here is that strength just means that you can withstand a great force or move a force, power meaning you are able to move with great speed and force. It is just as, if not more important, to develop power as it is to develop strength. We went over strength in the previous section, and how to obtain it. Building an aerobic and a strength base are predecessors for becoming powerful in your sport. Once you have attained those two, you can move on to the power realm.

How to obtain power vs strength

For a simple answer, look at the sets and repetitions that you are doing. For strength, we want to be lifting in sets of around 2-3 and repetitions of around 8-10. For power, it’s going to be different. To obtain power, we want to be doing sets of 3-4 with repetitions of 1-5. I recommend starting with about 4 sets of repetitions of around 5 to start out with. This will build a good base, and you can decrease from there in order to build your 1 Rep Max (the most you can do), and then after that we can go into the speed phase of the training.

Sample Program:

I like to do things in 4 week cycles to maximize the efficiency of the system in which one is working. In strength and conditioning, this is called periodization and it is vital in order to obtain the correct physical shape needed for your chosen sport. The previous 2 cycles (aerobic and strength buildinge) are to be done in the off-season. This cycle, however, may be done during and throughout the season. Power is great to maintain the strength which the athlete already has and is good to train throughout the season due to its low repetition nature and its effectiveness in producing results. The great thing about power, and all the other energy systems in which we train, is that we can use a variety of techniques via strength and conditioning as well as with actual wrestling training. Below, I will give examples of how to obtain power via strength and conditioning and I will also give examples of how to obtain power via wrestling workouts. Remember, it is important to train general and then specific. Meaning, do the strength and conditioning exercises first to build the athletes overall power, and then transfer it to specific wrestling exercises as the season or competition nears.

Here is a 4 week sample program to maximize power in the athlete (as I mentioned in previous articles these 4 week cycles can and should blend into each other, so as you are phasing out of the strength portion, you can start to implement the power phase accordingly)

Sample strength and conditioning tactics to choose from:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Power Cleans
  • Row
  • Pull-ups
  • Box Jumps
  • Bench
  • Clapping push-ups
  • 10-20m sprints
  • Bunny hops (frog jumps)
Week 1:

Pick 5 exercises and do 4 sets of 5 repetitions for a total of 2x per week (this phase should begin at about week 3-4 of your strength training program. So, use these workouts combined with the strength workouts from before to properly phase out of the strength phase and into the power phase).

Week 2

(last week of the strength phase and moving more into the power phase)

  • 2x per week
  • 5 sets of 4 repetitions
  • 6-7 exercises
Week 3
  • 3x per week
  • 4 sets of 3 repetitions
  • 5-6 exercises
Week 4:


  • 2-3x per week
  • 1 set of 1 repetition (as much as you possibly can do)
  • 3-4 exercises total (do not exceed this in a given day for doing maximum lifts)

* This week we will be assessing the athlete’s 1 repetition maximum (meaning how much the athlete can possibly lift) Warm Up lifts are essential, and you should not just lift as much as you can. Please have a proper strength and conditioning specialist monitor and spot the athlete correctly in order to ensure proper safety measures.

In season training

As mentioned above, the power phase is great to train during the season due to the low rep nature and being highly effective. You can continue to have the athletes work on power 1-2x per week during the season using the correct reps and sets (from above). Keep them doing 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps to keep up with their strength and maintain proper power and explosiveness through the season.

Here are some great exercises to do during practice that will continue to build on power that are more specific to wrestling:

We can use the same reps and sets as above, but this time with specific wrestling moves.
We can actually increase the reps slightly here and do sets of 2-3 with reps of 5-7. The time to complete these moves could be anywhere from as fast as possible to about 10-20 seconds max.

  • Standups (with a person lying across their back)
  • Double legs
  • Double legs (after hand-fighting for a few seconds)
  • Sprawl-re attack
  • Stand-up to a double leg
  • Snap down to a go behind
  • Starting from the top position to a turn
  • Takedown to a turn
  • Feet to back throw from the hand fight



Photo Credit John Sachs, Tech-fall


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