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Isometric Training for Strength and Stability
By John Gaglione


When it comes to wrestling everyone can agree it is extremely important to be explosive to excel in this sport. This is why in most wrestling training programs you can find various forms of strength and power exercises designed to help the wrestler produce more force.

Most people only focus on dynamic forms of training and only focus on the concentric phase of the movement (raising of the weight). In combat sports you often see athletes get into a stalemate situation where you are riding someone on top or you stuff an athlete’s takedown there are many static movement that happen in competition as well as dynamic ones. It is important to be able to hold positions and control your movement as well as to be able to resist an opponent’s movement. A great way to train for this is to implement isometric (static) exercises in your program

There are many applications for both types of contractions (static and dynamic) for sports and just general strength training. Isometric variations have their place in a solid lifting program and can help the body learn to use the muscles to stabilize and control movements.

Isometric training: Be able to absorb and resist forces

An isometric muscle contraction is when force is applied without changing the length of the muscle so no movement will occur. Isometric exercises have a lot of merit because they teach a wrestler to resist movement as well as control. Often times in combat sports athletes need to resist an opponent’s movement and they must learn to stabilize their body in order to stay in a solid position. Wrestlers need to absorb impact throws and leg attacks as well. Isometric exercises can help increase static strength as well as static stability.

Isometric contractions, much like eccentric contractions, can be used as a way to modify an exercise to fit the individual needs of an athlete. A person may not be able to perform a pull-up, but he can hang on the bar for a given amount of time. This will work the same muscles as a normal pull-up but in a static fashion versus a dynamic one.

When advanced isometrics are performed for time they are very effective for building mental toughness as well as teaching full body tension. In wrestling it is important to know what to stay loose and when to be tight. There are going to be situations in a wrestling match that you need to hold your ground in order to come out on top. Sometimes when defending a pinning combination you just need to stay tight and hold your ground and refuse to go to your back no matter how hard it may seem. Advanced and long isometric variations are a great way to train the body as well as the mind.

Here are some of my favorite Isometric variations for combat athletes.

Everyone who has wrestled for a substantial time from the top positions knows that the muscles, of the grip, forearms and upper back can get quite fatigued during a wrestling match. This exercise is great for building the static grip and upper back strength necessary for holding opponents down for extended periods of time. This static upper back strength will also help with shoulder stability needed on other big lifts in your strength program.

You can also perform similar variations with inverted rows as well. This is a great exercise to train how to hold onto an opponent’s leg when you are looking for a stalemate situation.

The adductor muscles are often neglect in training program, but are crucial for developing a strong top game. If you have ever wrestled a good leg rider you know that they are constantly squeezing with their inner thighs in order to hold you down.

These exercises will help build isometric strength in the inner thigh and will drastically improve your local muscular endurance for your top game. What’s cool about these exercise it that you will also gain shoulder stability as well as upper back strength as an added bonus.

The low push up position plank will build both spinal stability as well as shoulder stability. Should stability is crucial for defending all types of bar arms and half nelson attacks from the bottom position. This also provides a nice stretch of the pec muscles which also seem to get tight when wrestlers are hunched over in their stance for extended periods of time. This exercise will also help build core strength to aid in other big lifts in your strength program.

This is a great exercise because it helps increase the local muscular endurance of the legs while also stretching out the back side hip flexor. Tight hip flexors can hinder an athlete’s ability to get in a good position for all penetrations steps. This is a great one to do at the end of your workout.

Many people like the wall sit as their favorite static squat variation, but this position is more real world. This position will build muscular endurance in the legs and hips as well as help stretch out the muscles of the adductors(inner thigh). If you have ever seen a wrestler do a split to defend a takedown you know they have good hip mobility and length in their adductors and this is a great exercise to help build that mobility and stability in the legs.

Static Glute Bridge Holds

The muscles of the hip extensors are very important for power, but also for posture and core stability. The muscles of the glute help stabilize the low back and pelvis so it is critical that these muscles are also trained in a static fashion. This is also a good drill to learn how to continuously put pressure on an opponent’s body when in a static sprawl position when defending a takedown.

These are the best isometric exercises for all wrestlers. These movements will help build static strength and stability so you will be able to hold your ground when in a stalemate situation and also resist your opponent’s takedowns when you are trying to hold onto a big win. Remember you need to be able to produce movement, but also be able to control it.

To take your wrestling to the next level and ensure this coming wrestling season is your best one ever go to GaglioneStrength.com and e-mail Coach Gaglione for more information on wrestling training.

Coach John Gaglione is a Sport Performance Specialist out of Long Island New York. He is a certified "Underground" Strength coach who specializes in training combat athletes. John’s work has been featured in Elite Fitness Systems, Testosterone Nation , One Result & local wrestling site Long Island Wrestling Association. If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at www.gaglionestrength.com or e-mail him at gaglionestrength@gmail.com.