My good friend Anton Dietzen ( and I got to go to a Perform Better Seminar in Chicago this past weekend. While we were there, we were catching up about our families, our careers, and the “old days” back at University of Illinois.

Both Dietzen and I have followed very similar career (and family) paths. Likewise, we both have strong interests in trying to give back to the wrestling community.

Anyways, it was good to see this old wrestling buddy. It was also good to pick up some training tips from some of the best trainers and exercise scientists in the world.

You see, when I go to these things I am always thinking:

“How does this apply to wrestling?”

“How would I have used this principle when I was training?”


“How can I teach this to my son to make him a better wrestler?”

So here they are, 15 hours and about $300 worth of (what I felt) was the best wrestling “stuff” in this seminar. I hope you get something out of it.

  1. Wrestlers need to train how fast they relax. This tip was given by the world known back expert Dr. Stuart McGill – who has worked with top athletes (like George St. Piere of the UFC) to get them better. He found that the world’s most elite performers are able to relax 6x faster than lesser athletes. This way, they don’t fight their bodies when attacking their opponents.
  2. Running can really hurt your wrestler. This one hit home because I liked to run … and did a lot of it while wrestling. While running does add to your VO2 max (aerobic capacity) it will take away from your anaerobic capacity (explosiveness). Because wrestling is estimated to be 90% anaerobic – you want to train your wrestler to become an “anaerobic monster” … in the words of Dr. McGill.
  3. Strength is not all that important. What is more important is speed and impact of force. This ties back to takeaway number 1 – because how fast you are able to relax determines your speed. Impact of force is determined by core strength. One of the greatest wrestlers in history – John Smith is a perfect example of a wrestler who was strong enough but fast as lighting. I’d be willing to guess his core was second to none as well.
  4. Wrestlers need to “twitch” more often. Not nervous twitching, but purposeful twitching to train “fast neurology”. It teaches you to activate your muscles quickly and to relax quickly. In a wrestling match, the first person to get to an offensive position might just win because they did. I guess I never really realized that this was something you could train – and actually improve upon. McGill goes one step further and says that you should actually train twitching in positions that your wrestlers are often in.
  5. Wrestlers should not use an alternating grip when deadlifting. This is because this grip reduces how much hand grip strength is needed during the lift … and grip strength is kind of important for wrestlers. This one is obvious now, but somehow I missed this point during and even after my wrestling career. Going one step further, wrestlers should probably use a fat bar different for some lifts to further enhance their grip strength.

So there you have it. 5 training tips that I learned this weekend. For me, training the rate of relaxation is probably the biggest “ah ha” that I had. I know I will be working on this with my son.

What about you?

Which one of these principles can you use to make your wrestler better? Pick one and work on it with your wrestler. It might be the edge that makes the difference in the championship match.

Good Luck!