How to Develop Power Endurance for Wrestling

article Apr 06, 2017
By Jake Tanenbaum

Part 5/5 Power Endurance: Putting it all together

Now that you’ve had your athlete develop a strong aerobic, strength, power, and speed foundation, it’s time to put it all together. That’s where power endurance comes into play.

Many coaches make the mistake of doing this first, or only doing these types of workouts. These are the grueling, grind it out for long periods of time work that wrestling is notorious for. While it’s very important to do this type of work, it is also very misused and mistimed in the sport of wrestling.

Use it as the only method, and your athletes will fail to excel in areas like speed and power. Use it too often and you will see your athletes burn out. Use it too close to competition, and fatigue and soreness will set in when athletes should be in peak condition.

This piece is really the cream of the crop. But like anything, too much of one thing is not good. Again, this is why this is the last system to be worked. Athletes must have and maintain all the other systems as well as continue to develop those systems throughout the season. Aerobic fitness should always be maintained, as should certain aspects of strength, power, and speed.

In using power-endurance, you want to make sure the athlete can:

  1. Complete the task at hand
  2. Perform near-perfect repetitions

These two things are very important and often overlooked. What really happens when we push the athlete to failure is that we are creating a mental feedback loop in their head that they were not good enough to complete the task at hand. We always want to use positivity with our athletes and have them succeed, especially in practice and strength and conditioning situations. Wrestling live is a different story, obviously there is one athlete who will do better than the other.

But in strength and conditioning, we want to condition our athlete to know that they are successful at training the right way.

Second, performing perfect reps is also very advantageous and often overlooked. I see too many coaches saying “go as hard as you can, faster, short time, etc. These are not effective cues for performance, they just confuse the athlete more and may cause bad habits or inefficient action.

Specific cues like “use your legs, chest up, dig your heels in the ground” are great because they are specific cues which the athlete can correct. Even in wrestling, cues such as ‘lower your level, inside tie, hand on the head’, etc. are better than just yelling “harder, harder” to your athlete.

Think Systems Training, for Wrestling

As I mentioned in previous articles, there are different systems in the body. For one, there is the ATP-PC system (which accounts for most activity within the first 10-20 seconds of a match). Then, there is the anaerobic system (within the first 2 minutes of a match and when heart rate goes above the lactate threshold) and the aerobic system (activities lasting longer than 2 minutes and heart rates under lactate threshold).

*Note: Lactate threshold was mentioned in our heart rate training article. We can set a general estimate at a heart rate of about 160-170bpm for this threshold to occur.

What is power endurance training?

In terms of power endurance, we want to be strong for a long period of time. There is actually advanced papers and studies coming out now that prove that muscle fibers can actually change types. For those who don’t know what I mean by that is you have different muscle fibers in your body that are geared more towards endurance type activities or more towards explosive, anaerobic type activities. However, what this new research is finding is that it’s possible to change those fiber types based on how you train (previously thought to be genetic). Which means: training matters.

So, let’s get into the types of workouts we can do here in terms of power endurance. For one, I’ll throw out a list at you from workouts to choose from and then we can organize it into a 2-4week training plan below:

Power-Endurance Workouts

The beauty of strength and conditioning is that there are many different workouts that we can choose from. This section is no different, as you can create workouts in many different ways.

Circuit Training

The goal here can be to mimic a match, but with strength exercises. So go 3, 2 minute periods or however long the match is your training for with a 10-15 second break in between periods (to mimic a real match).

Use exercises such as box jumps, pull-ups, squats, row, bear crawl, stance motion, TRX exercises, band exercises, etc.

You can essentially make up a circuit of however many reps and sets needed, but go for 2 minutes, take a 15 second break and then go again.

Remember, perfect reps and making sure the athlete is able to complete the workout is very important. A 6 minute circuit with 15 second breaks between periods can be tough to do, so you can do shorter circuits earlier to prepare for this, such as:

30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for up to 6 minutes. Or 30 seconds on 15 seconds off once the athlete is progressing in endurance.


400m sprints were always the beast of our training, but also very important. If your athlete can sprint for 400m, take a short break and then perform nearly the same time for the next few sprints, you know that athlete is in great power-endurance shape. Especially if you are tracking heart rate, and recovery time is shorter and shorter the longer the training program progresses.

400m sprints can be done in anywhere between 1-6 reps with a break in between ( I like to suggest doing the 400m sprint, walking 200m, and then sprinting again).

Start with low reps and gradually build up as athletes progress. If you do too many of these too early, athletes can actually get slower as they fatigue more and more and are unable to keep up mentally and physically. Use these sparingly.

Other long distance sprints such as the mile for time, 3 lap sprints, 2 lap sprints, etc. are also very effective. Remember, the key here is making sure the athlete can maintain peak explosiveness throughout the sprints. This is hard to do for long distances, but just make sure the athlete isn’t fatiguing too much, otherwise it would be time to go back to the previous systems and build that specific type of conditioning back. By this point in their training, however, the athletes should be able to perform multiple of these sprint phases. Be sure to give adequate rest between sprints.


At this point in the athletes training, they should be on the mat and getting ready to go. The athletes are in shape and ready to roll. Power endurance for wrestling can include mimicking regular matches. Do this too early, and athletes can develop bad habits in stance and positioning. But once they are ready, they will feel fresh and great and able to focus on the things that matter most in practice, technique and match strategy, which is where coaching plays a huge role.

Sample Power-Endurance Program

Week 1

*Week 1 can be done in conjunction with week 3 of speed phase

1 extra power-endurance workout

Day 1 -power endurance workout (use a sprint method from above, such as the 400m sprint, only do 1-2 to get athletes used to it)

Week 2

*Week 2 can be done in conjunction with week 4 of speed phase

2 extra power-endurance workouts:

Day 1 -1 circuit training workout (30 seconds on 30 seconds off for 6 min, do 3-4 rounds of this)

Day 2 -2-4 wrestling matches (with more rest between periods)

Week 3

3 power endurance workouts:

Day 1 -Circuit Training (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off)

Day 2 -Sprint work (1 mile sprint, followed by 2-4 200m sprints)

Day 3 -Match work (3-5 wrestling matches)

Week 4

2 workouts

Day 1- Circuit Training (mimic a 6 min match with strength and conditioning exercises, take a 6 min break and then go again, 3x thru (active rest like light cycling, jogging, jumprope, etc. in between (HR 130-140 for active rest)

Take 3-4 days off of power-endurance training in between (you can have athletes focus on cardio and technical work

Day 2 -Match work (Wrestling matches 4-5 matches)

Concluding the program

That's the end of our 5 part program. By this point, your athletes should be good to go and up to match speed! Remember, I suggest starting with aerobic and strength phases during off season, strength and speed towards pre-season, and then power-endurance as the season is approaching. By this point, your athletes should be in top shape and ready to go.

Once the season hits, it’s all about maintenance. These 5 phases can be used interchangeably and at different times throughout the season.

An active aerobic base should always be maintained, and aerobic exercises should be done about 1-2x per week (HR below about 160 and duration lasting 30-45 minutes).

Hypertrophy based strength workouts can be skipped if athlete is trying to maintain weight throughout the season, for these athletes lifting for power and speed is much more effective and won’t put additional pounds on. If a wrestler is struggling to get bigger, than hypertrophying workouts are best (sets in 3-4 range of 8-10 repetitions). These types of workouts can be done 2-3x per week.

Also, power-endurance type workouts can be used 1-2x per week max (I would not go above 2, I think 1 is efficient enough since athletes usually compete 1x per week which is a power-endurance workout in itself).

So, there you have it: the 5 part heart rate series of training your athlete to perform better on the mat. I hope you’ve gained some valuable insight on how to gear your training programs in the future to fully maximize your athlete’s potential. Stay tuned for in depth-coverage of these systems and don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list for exclusive articles and training based approaches. Happy training!


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