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Wrestling Specific Posterior Chain Exercises
By John Gaglione

The strength of a wrestlerís posterior chain is extremely important for optimal performance on the mat. Most athletes only focus on the muscles they can see in the mirror, often times neglecting the muscles they canít see such as the glutes, hamstrings, and low back. This is a HUGE mistake, especially when these muscles play a paramount role in many movements you see in competition.

With a weak or inhibited glutes, you wonít be able explode into takedowns, develop a powerful stand up, or be able to have effective sprawls to defend you opponent. Hip extension is crucial when lifting opponents as well whether you are returning your opponent to the mat or lifting your opponent when finishing a driving double leg takedown. Quick hip extension is extremely important when attempting to stuff takedowns and stop your opponent from scoring points.

As stated in previous articles bilateral exercises are extremely important for developing absolute strength, but single leg movements are more specific to the movements seen in wrestling. Some of our favorite posterior chain exercises on two legs are deadlifts and barbell glute bridges. Here are two examples below.

Deadlifts will target the muscles of the hamstrings and low back a little more since the legs arenít bent as much as some other exercises. They will also work the muscles of the grip and upper back which are crucial for all wrestlers.

Since the athlete is extending their hip in a bent leg pattern there is less hamstring involvement and more glutes required to lift the load. Most athletes have trouble with glute firing so this exercise should also be a staple in your program to develop powerful hip extension.

Here are my favorite single leg exercises to develop the posterior chain for wrestling. All of these variations will help prevent imbalances in the body as well as improve performance in a more functional manner.

Glute bridge variations are some of the best exercises to specifically target muscles of the glutes.  Youíll want to focus on extending through the hips while keeping the lower back out of the exercise by flexing the opposite hip when performing any single leg version of this exercise. This action fires the muscles of the opposite hip flexor, and keeps the lumbar spine from over extending. You can perform this version on the floor or you can perform a back elevated version to increase quad and glute involvement as well as the range of motion.

Feet Elevated Straight Leg Glute Bridges are one of the best ways to develop posterior chain strength in a straight leg pattern. Iíve found this to be a great way to help progress someone to a better single leg deadlift since it takes the balance out of the equation. This variation of the glute bridge will emphasize the hamstrings more than the bent leg back elevated version. As with the bent leg version make sure to flex the opposite hip to keep your low back out of the equation.

Having mastered all of the glute bridge variations, you should then progress to the single slide board leg curl. This is exercise is a great way to strengthen the hamstrings for wrestling. If you arenít strong enough to perform this exercise and get a lot of hamstring cramping simply only perform the lowering phase(eccentric only) of the movement and then reset yourself. As you get stronger you will be able to perform the full version of this exercise. If you donít have access to a slide board you can do this exercise with furniture movers found at any hardware store and perform it on your wrestling mat at school.

The single leg deadlift is the ultimate single leg posterior chain exercise for wrestling performance. The major problem is, in this position, itís pretty difficult for a lot of wrestlers to initially to balance on one leg. It takes a lot of core and hip stability, and can be done with either body weight or a small medicine ball to help with balance at least in the beginning. Once the athlete is more comfortable with the movement one or two dumbbells or kettlebell can be used with this exercises or even a barbell for advanced wrestlers with good balance. This is a great lift to train hip and ankle stability. The balance necessary for this exercise will help wrestlers who have trouble defending single leg takedowns or any situation when one leg is on the ground at one time.

These posterior chain exercises will improve your strength, stability, and wrestling ability. Remember to take your time when first trying these advanced movements and remember that the muscles you canít see in the mirror are the ones making you a better wrestler.

Good luck!

 If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at gaglionestrength@gmail.com or check out my website www.gaglionestrength.com


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. Johnís 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.