Cary Kolat responds to the question, “How did you condition yourself for wrestling?” Cary uses the same very simple 6 to 7 workouts for conditioning. The time spent on the mat is the most important part of conditioning. He made sure nothing ever got in the way of training and time spent in the practice room. Cary too often sees guys lift or workout before practice. Then, during practice will complain their legs are too sore or fatigued and they aren’t able to stay in their stance or train correctly.
Mat Time Comes First
This is completely wrong. To Kolat, we are wrestlers first, not weightlifters. So, why intentionally complete a workout before a practice that would interfere with your training? Conditioning workouts should follow the same thought process. During his training Cary planned his workouts around mat time. If he knew he would be training in the middle of the day, then in the morning he would do a small circuit. That way he knew he would be able to recover by the time he got to practice. Then he would do his serious, heavy conditioning and lifting in the evening after practice.
Preparation Is the Key to Success
Cary’s conditioning workouts were always 45 minutes or less and his weightlifting workouts were never more than an hour. He did this intentionally to keep himself focused. He didn’t want to be in the gym, on the mat, or on a treadmill for 2 hours to where the task became monotonous. The most important part of a conditioning workout comes in around the final 15 minutes. The first 15 to 25 minutes are the warm up phase is to begin to fatigue your body. Then, you reach the final phase where you begin to climb a metaphoric mountain. Cary only wanted to be in that zone of pain for about 15 minutes. A wrestling match only lasts half of that, maybe a little more with overtime. So, if he could be in extreme shape for 15 minutes he could compete at a very high level for 7 to 10 minutes during a match. The reason Cary only used specific workouts was to be able to measure his progress. As an athlete when you are able to see your improvement it is a very positive thing. It’s very helpful mentally when you are able to walk onto a mat, shake hands with an opponent, and know how long and hard you can push yourself.
High Intensity Training
Cary shares a treadmill program he used a lot and only took him around 30 minutes when he was in competition shape. It was only 5 miles. He ran the first mile at 7mph, the second at 8mph, and the third at 9mph. He used those first three miles just to start to wear his legs out. The last two miles were 8, quarter mile, sprints. Mile four began at 7mph and increased each quarter mile. He would then take it down to a walking pace for the first quarter of the fifth mile to recover quickly. After the recovery he increased it to 8 mph and then 9 mph before finally sprinting the last quarter mile as fast as the treadmill would go. That entire workout was just for the last quarter mile, to push himself as hard as he could for as long as he could. It was also easily measurable he could increase the speeds or the length as his conditioning improved. He would also swim and see how many laps he could complete in a certain period of time. On top of all of those he had weight lifting workouts and some Airdyne bike workouts, but no matter what he consistently used the same workouts that were easily measurable.
Conditioning Is Supplemental
The most important parts of the workouts is that they were either completed in the evening or in a way that wasn’t going to interfere with wrestling. It’s important not to diminish wrestling time with things that are supposed to supplement the wrestling itself. If you are intentionally training to fight through fatigue that is a different situation. You should do that occasionally but it isn’t something you should be doing on a routine basis. Everything should be structured in a way that is beneficial or supplemental to your wrestling.
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