Bodyweight Exercises for Wrestling

10 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Wrestling

Welcome to your complete guide to bodyweight training for wrestling.

Bodyweight exercises can come in extremely handy for those times when you don’t have access to your gym or gym equipment.

However, even when have a complete gym’s worth of equipment at your disposal, many of these exercises are just as effective (if not more) than any exercise you can do with a barbell or kettlebell.

Drawing on 20 years of experience as a strength and conditioning coach, I have compiled a selection of the most effective bodyweight exercises to help wrestlers build strength, agility, and endurance without the need for a gym or equipment.

Best Bodyweight Exercises for Wrestlers

Here they are, in no particular order, my 10 favorite bodyweight exercises for wrestlers.

Stick around to the end because I put these 10 exercises into a workout circuit that you can try out right now.


Athlete Doing Push-Ups

Why: Push-Ups target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, enhancing upper body strength which is vital in wrestling for grapples and holds.

Push-Ups aren’t just one of my favorite bodyweight exercises, they are one of my favorite upper-body exercises for wrestling, period.

How To

  • Lie face down on the floor.
  • Pull your toes in so that you’re on the tip of your shoes.
  • Eyes should be focused straight down or slightly up.
  • Pull your hands close to about the nipple line of the chest and bring them out about 2-3 inches away.
  • Take a deep breath, engage the core and brace.
  • Push yourself up in one unit. There should be no sagging of the waist. The entire body from head to toe should move up and then back down in unison.
  • Feel your scapula upwardly rotate and make sure the antagonist muscles (Back and biceps) are fully engaging.
  • Lock out your push-up and pause.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down and get ready for the next repetition from just above the ground. Do not fully relax at the bottom of the push-up unless your program specifies.

Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight Squat

Why: Bodyweight Squats work on the lower body, improving the strength and power of the legs, which is essential for stable stances and powerful takedowns.

How To

  • Perform your bodyweight squat by placing feet shoulder width apart, toes straight ahead or slightly pointed out.
  • Squat down by first hinging the hips back and then bending the knees and dropping the hips straight down.
  • Chest should stay up, eyes focused straight ahead.
  • Feet should remain flat on the floor with weight evenly distributed between the heel and ball of the foot.
  • Stand tall by pushing the feet ‘through the floor’, driving the hips up and the shoulders tall.


Wide Grip Pull-Ups

Why: Working primarily on the back and biceps, Pull-Ups help in developing a strong grip and upper body strength necessary for clinches and holds.

Even if you have weights, Pull-ups are still one of the best exercises you can do for wrestling.

How To

  • Approach the pull-up bar and grab the bar with a pronated grip (palms facing away).
  • Use a bench to get to the bar if it is too high.
  • Later in the article, I will talk about variations, alternatives, and modifications where the supinated (palms facing in) grip will be discussed.
  • Squeeze the bar and engage the core muscles and do not cross your legs.
  • Engage the upper back and pull up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Pause for 1 second with your chin over the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.


Male Athlete Doing Burpees

Why: Burpees provide a full-body workout that boosts cardiovascular endurance, agility, and strength; indispensable traits for lasting through intense wrestling bouts.

How To

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides.
  • Lower your body into a squat position by bending your knees and hips. Place your hands on the ground in front of you, just outside shoulder-width apart.
  • Jump your feet back into a plank position, with your hands still on the ground and your body in a straight line.
  • Do a push-up by lowering your chest towards the ground, then pressing back up to the plank position.
  • Jump your feet back towards your hands, then stand (or jump) up and reach your arms overhead.

Mountain Climbers

Male Athlete Doing Mountain Climbers

Why: Mountain Climbers is a dynamic exercise that promotes core stability and strength while working the hip flexors, helping in quick directional changes and sprint recoveries.

How To

  • Begin in a push-up position – hands under shoulders, core engaged, body in a straight line
  • Now raise one knee toward the chest and place the ball of the foot on the ground – from this position you’re ready to begin performing reps.
  • Drive one leg up and place the foot right next to where the opposite foot just left.
  • Simultaneously extend the ‘up foot’ back to the original starting position.
  • Continue alternating back and forth until all reps are completed.


Male Athlete Doing a Plank

Why: Planks are great for building a strong core, which is the powerhouse for most wrestling moves, aiding in better control during matches.

How To

  • Start on the ground on your stomach.
  • Assume a push-up like position on your elbows and toes. Elbows should be directly under the shoulders.
  • Position your body in a straight line from the shoulders through the hips, knees and ankles.
  • Brace the core tight. (As if you’re going to be punched in the stomach)
  • Do not let the body slouch to the ground nor push the hips up high in the air.


Bodyweight Lunge

Why: Lunges work on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, developing lower body strength and stability, which are crucial in maintaining strong stances and executing powerful movements during wrestling matches.

How To

  • Stand upright with feet hip-width apart, shoulders relaxed and engage your core
  • Step forward with one leg and lower your body, bending both knees at 90 degrees.
  • Front knee above ankle, not past toes. Back knee close to but not touching the ground.
  • Push off the front foot and return to the start position. Alternate legs each rep.

Russian Twists

Russian Twist Bodyweight

Why: Russian Twists strengthen oblique muscles, aiding wrestlers in having a strong core necessary for rotational movements and quick changes in direction.

How To

  • Start by taking a seat on the floor and clasping your hands together.
  • Slightly bend the knees and raise your feet roughly six inches off the floor.
  • Start by rotating your torso to the left, taking your right elbow toward your left knee.
  • Now turn your shoulders and rotate your torso to the right, now taking your left elbow toward your right knee.
  • Keep legs mostly still and maintain the feet off the floor throughout the movement.
  • Continue rotating back and forth until all reps are completed.

RELATED –> My 10 Favorite Core Exercises for Wrestlers

Squat Jumps

Why: Squat Jumps enhance explosive strength in the legs, aiding wrestlers in executing swift and powerful movements.

How To

  • First, make sure you have enough clearance to safely do Squat Jumps (no low ceilings!)
  • Start in a shoulder-width with toes either straight ahead or turned slightly out.
  • Squat down, exactly how you would with a normal Bodyweight Squat.
  • As you squat down, cock your arms back so that they are down and slightly behind the hips.
  • When you get to the bottom of the squat, explosively drive yourself up – hips and arms – into the air as high as possible.
  • Land softly by bending the hips and knees to absorb force when contacting the ground.

Bicycle Crunches

Why: Bicycle Crunches work on abdominal muscles enhancing core strength, which is pivotal in executing complex wrestling maneuvers with precision.

How To

  • Lay on your back with your knee and hip flexed to 90 degrees
  • Raise your shoulder blades off of the ground several inches and put your hands behind your head.
  • Keep your chin off of your chest and keep your left leg off of the ground.
  • Straighten your right knee while simultaneously driving the left knee in the opposite direction toward your shoulder.
  • Touch your left knee to your right elbow and immediately repeat to the other side.

Bodyweight Circuit

Here’s a bodyweight circuit that a wrestler can follow to build strength and endurance utilizing the exercises above:

Circuit 13 Rounds
Push-Upsx 15
Bodyweight Squatsx 15
Burpeesx 12
Plankx 45 seconds
Circuit 23 Rounds
Mountain Climbersx 15 each leg
Squat Jumpsx 12
Russian Twistsx 15 each side
Circuit 33 Rounds
Pull-Upsx 10
Lungesx 12 each leg
Bicycle Crunchesx 15 each side

Circuit Instructions

Make sure to start off with a proper warm-up. I have a few sample warmups here if you need one.

Perform each exercise in Circuit 1 one after another, with minimal rest in between, until 3 total rounds have been completed.

Rest 2 minutes.

Continue on to Circuit 2 in the same manner, resting another 2 minutes between Circuit 2 and 3.

If you want to increase the challenge, try 4 rounds of each circuit instead of 3.

Get Started Today!
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Final Thoughts

Bodyweight exercises can be an excellent tool in a wrestler’s training arsenal, offering an effective and equipment-free path to enhanced performance on the mat.

Whether you’re adding variety to your current workouts, or looking for exercise ideas to do when you’re away from the gym, you should now have everything you need to get started.

With the integration of exercises such as Push-Ups, Squats, and Lunges into your training program, you can forge a physique that is not just strong, but also agile and ready for the demands of wrestling.

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