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What Makes a Good Wrestler

what makes a good wrestler
  • Cameron

    Cameron is the Founder of Grapplers Graveyard. He is an athlete, a life-long learner, and a combat sports enthusiast. His goal is to build websites that help people become smarter, healthier, and happier.

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  • Dallas Robinson

    Hello, I am Dallas Robinson, a martial artist based out of Mesa! I wrestle, am a brown belt in Judo, and have my blue belt in brazilian jiu jistu!

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Wrestling is a sport that needs both physical strength and mental toughness. To be great, a wrestler must have four main qualities: strength, speed, conditioning, and mental toughness. These traits, when developed well, can turn an athlete into a wrestling star. In this guide, we will look at each of these qualities and how to improve them through training and mindset.

Strength: The Foundation of Wrestling Dominance

Strength is the base for all wrestling skills. It’s not just about lifting heavy weights but about having strength that helps you perform well on the mat.

Relative Strength vs. Absolute Strength

Relative strength is your strength compared to your body weight. This is important in wrestling because weight classes mean being strong for your size can give you an edge. Exercises like chin-ups are great for building relative strength. Aim to do at least 12 good chin-ups to be strong and agile.

Absolute strength is the total weight you can lift, no matter your body weight. This strength is needed for powerful moves and controlling your opponent. Include exercises like deadlifts, squats, and bench presses in your workouts to build absolute strength.

Functional Strength Training

Functional strength training focuses on movements that are like those in wrestling. This training helps you use your strength in real matches. Exercises like Turkish get-ups, kettlebell swings, and sandbag carries are great for building functional strength.

Strength Training Tips

  1. Progressive Overload: Slowly increase the weight and intensity of your workouts to keep challenging your muscles.

  2. Compound Movements: Do exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once.

  3. Recovery: Give yourself enough time to recover between strength training sessions to avoid overtraining and injury.

Speed and Explosiveness: The Edge in Wrestling

Speed and explosiveness are key for quick takedowns, escapes, and reversals. These traits can make the difference between winning and losing a match.

Plyometric Training

Plyometric exercises help increase explosive power. These exercises involve quick stretching and contracting of muscles, which helps you generate force fast. Box jumps, clap push-ups, and medicine ball slams are good plyometric exercises for wrestlers.

Agility Drills

Agility drills improve your ability to change direction quickly and efficiently. Cone drills, ladder drills, and shuttle runs are great for improving agility. Add these drills to your training routine to improve your footwork and overall speed.

Speed Training Tips

  1. Short, Intense Bursts: Focus on short, high-intensity sprints to build speed and explosiveness.

  2. Proper Form: Keep good form during speed drills to maximize efficiency and avoid injury.

  3. Consistency: Regularly include speed and agility drills in your training for continuous improvement.

Conditioning: The Engine That Keeps You Going

Conditioning is the ability to keep performing well throughout a match. It includes both cardiovascular endurance and muscular stamina.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is a great way to improve cardiovascular conditioning. This training involves alternating between short bursts of intense activity and periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. HIIT workouts can be designed to mimic the demands of a wrestling match, making them very effective for wrestlers.

Circuit Training

Circuit training involves doing a series of exercises one after the other with little rest between sets. This training improves both muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Create circuits that include a mix of strength, speed, and agility exercises to maximize conditioning.

Conditioning Tips

  1. Variety: Include different conditioning exercises to keep your workouts interesting and challenging.

  2. Intensity: Push yourself to work hard during conditioning sessions to simulate the demands of a match.

  3. Recovery: Allow time for recovery between conditioning workouts to avoid burnout and overtraining.

Mental Toughness: The X-Factor in Wrestling

Mental toughness is perhaps the most important quality for a wrestler. It is the ability to stay focused, motivated, and strong in the face of challenges.

Mindset Training

Building a strong mindset involves training your mind just like you train your body. Visualization techniques, positive self-talk, and goal setting are powerful tools for building mental toughness. Imagine yourself succeeding in matches, use positive affirmations to boost confidence, and set specific, achievable goals to stay motivated.

Overcoming Adversity

Wrestling often involves setbacks and challenges. Learning to overcome adversity is a key part of mental toughness. See challenges as opportunities for growth, and develop a never-give-up attitude. Push yourself beyond your limits in training to build resilience and mental strength.

Mental Toughness Tips

  1. Stay Positive: Keep a positive attitude, even when facing setbacks.

  2. Focus on the Process: Concentrate on the steps you need to take to achieve your goals, rather than the outcome.

  3. Embrace Challenges: View challenges as opportunities to grow and improve.


What is the most important quality for a wrestler to develop?

While all four qualities are important, mental toughness is often considered the most critical. It helps wrestlers stay focused, motivated, and strong, which can make the difference between winning and losing.

How can I improve my relative strength for wrestling?

Focus on bodyweight exercises like chin-ups and push-ups, and include compound lifts such as squats and deadlifts. Aim to do at least 12 good chin-ups to ensure you have enough relative strength.

What are some effective plyometric exercises for wrestlers?

Box jumps, clap push-ups, and medicine ball slams are great plyometric exercises that can help improve explosive power and speed.

How often should I include conditioning workouts in my training routine?

Aim to include conditioning workouts 2-3 times per week. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and circuit training are effective methods for improving cardiovascular endurance and muscular stamina.

What are some strategies for developing mental toughness?

Visualization techniques, positive self-talk, and goal setting are powerful tools for building mental toughness. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and push yourself beyond your limits in training.

How can I improve my agility for wrestling?

Include agility drills such as cone drills, ladder drills, and shuttle runs in your training routine. Focus on keeping good form and consistency to see continuous improvement.


Wrestling is a tough sport that needs a mix of physical and mental skills. By focusing on building strength, speed, conditioning, and mental toughness, you can become a strong competitor on the mat. Remember, success in wrestling is not just about physical strength but also about having the right mindset. Embrace the challenges, stay motivated, and keep pushing yourself to reach new heights. With dedication and hard work, you can master the four pillars of wrestling excellence and achieve your goals.


  1. EliteFTS: 4 Essential Qualities of a Badass Wrestler

  2. Wikipedia: Wrestling

  3. The Ultimate Guide to Wrestling Workouts

What Makes a Good Wrestler