The Value of Buddy Drills – A Lesson From Beginner Level Wrestling

22 Aug The Value of Buddy Drills – A Lesson From Beginner Level Wrestling

The Value of Buddy Drills – A Lesson from Beginner Level Wrestling


1f0f99f0e338286fa7362811b64_medium   This is a guest post from my friend Nick Knowles. Nick is a former  Division 1 wrestler who’s accomplishments include: NCAA Division 1 National Championships qualifier, east regional conferenece champion, all-american (runner-up) at NCWA national championships. He has since become a trainer and wrestling coach who has produced six all-americans and one national champion as well as claimed 3rd place with his team at the national championships (NCWA) and 2nd place at the national dual championships (NCWA).

So yeah, the guy knows wrestling and he has a few different opinions on how to develop wrestlers and athletes, in general.

Enter Nick:

“When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardour will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.” -Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu’s strategies from The Art of War apply beyond ancient battle tactics. His strategies and methods carryover to the basic principles that make a wrestler, or any athlete, successful. If you have not specifically targeted the strength, conditioning, and skill strategies required for your sport, your “weapons will grow dull” in battle and you will be defeated.



Successfully performing the movement patterns that occur during a bout of wrestling demands a unique type of strength. Strength that is unmatched by any sport. The wrestler is performing under external forces and tension from their opponent for nearly the entire duration of the match. Wrestling is also the only scholastic sport that requires the athlete to get into positions that demonstrate bracing and isometric strength for extended time. Think about it…how many other sports require scapular retraction, neck extension or gripping for holds?

Too often have I seen “expert” strength coaches prescribe their wrestlers some cookie cutter conditioning that they claim to be energy system training. Problem is that most of these coaches have never even stepped foot on a wrestling mat. By not having a feel for what a wrestling match is like, its very possible that they are allowing their athlete’s “weapons to grow dull” during the off-season program. One must truly understand what type of strength & conditioning is required for these athletes.



A half ass linear periodization and a hypertrophy routine with a few gassers at the end just won’t cut it for these modern day warriors. Excluding the gangly fish who get pinned in the first minute of every match, wrestlers must be conditioned to perform movement under tension for 6-10 minutes.

Movement under tension (MUT) is defined as muscular and structural loading in 3 dimensions, across a distance. MUT involves taking an external stressor whose center of gravity (COG) is dynamic and loading the athlete as they move from point A to point B. This creates an environment that ensures bracing mechanics and an increase in the athlete’s ability to absorb forces.

Training to endure the high levels of lactic acid with short range isometric movements, along with developing strength in large range of motion movement, will provide the wrestler the specific strength needed to be competitive throughout the duration of the match. Although general strongman exercises and equipment could be of good use to condition the athlete to perform extended periods of movement under tension, there is no equipment required.



The drills proposed below are nothing new to the most intermediate level combat athlete. I have been performing these drills since my youth wrestling days and have integrated them into conditioning routines for my collegiate wrestlers. Years ago I took an international trip to train with the Ukrainian and Russian national teams at the Allushta Olympic Training Center and was surprised to see the best wresters on the planet performing the very same drills I had been doing from my first wrestling practice. Though these are very basic in and nature, the carryover of isometric strength and proper bracing is unmatched. I have seen these exercises run football lineman and baseball players into the ground!


Equipment needed: A partner your size and a warrior attitude!

(partners larger than yourself is encouraged, but good luck!)





It is key to vary the time under tension of the movement and work toward little to no rest between efforts. The goal is to work up to period specific time frames (2-3 minutes) without a decrease in the power expression for effort.

Appropriate interval periods can be anywhere from 30-60 seconds. A good place to start for unconditioned athlete would be a 1:4 work to rest ratio. However, I have seen some high caliber wrestlers perform these exercises for 30 straight without a hint of rest.


Do you have a question for Nick? Let him know in the comments.


Nick Knowles



Nick Knowles is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT). He is a former collegiate wrestling coach and division 1 athlete. His clients range from youth to semi-professional levels of athletics and everyday people who want to improve their overall fitness & physique.








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