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Well Prepared: Summer Conditioning Recap

Kids are back in school now. We said goodbye to our college kids a few weeks ago, and the high school kids have been getting back into the swing of things. Of those, were three wrestlers who trained as part of our Strong Future Performance Program in either remote or in person training. One is a high school wrestler, and the other two college wrestlers. Knowing the return to school would also usher in the return of pre-season "optional" practices, I wanted to make sure they all were set and better prepared than they had been in previous years.

One of the college wrestlers working through her Zone 2 Work (as monitored by HR monitor)

In reviewing what we did last year, and having a better grasp at what each wrestler was stepping into this year, we made a few adjustments for the summer which helped. Especially knowing many wrestling coaches are the types who like to have "come to Jesus" moments in the pre-season to test who did any work over the summer.

First, we started our conditioning as soon as possible in the summer. The first sessions started with low level, steady state work to target Zone 2 conditioning. For the first session, we used Heart Rate monitors to give athletes an understanding of what a Zone 2 intensity should feel like. Then, we progressed time across 10 sessions which all had included strength training. We started with 15 minutes, and increased up to 22 minutes across 10 sessions. Especially if Heart Rate monitors weren't available, we used a conversational pace and encouraged individuals to hold a conversation with each other. We included sessions like this on three out of every four sessions (following our standard four workout rotation).

Then, after 10 Zone 2 sessions, we add one Long Extensive Tempo (LET) session per week and removed a Zone 2 Session. These started at three sets of 3:00, with a one minute rest between sets. If we didn't have heart rate monitors available (sometimes I didn't have clean ones), we'd use a pace you couldn't hold a conversation at (I'd often talk to them or ask questions until I couldn't get a response). For 12 sessions we did two Zone 2 Sessions, and two LET sessions, alternating between each.

As we got towards the end of the summer, we started sprinkling in Short Intensive Tempos (SIT). Often using air bikes for these intervals, we started with three sets of five reps of a 15 second burst, followed by 45 seconds of rest. This gave us a five minute set, which we rested 3 minutes between. As we progressed, we added a set to the interval. Now, as part of a note, we weren't doing these every session. We layered a three day rotation of Zone 2, LET, and SIT conditioning on top of our four day lifting rotation. This allowed us to layer conditioning on top of different fatigue states from the lifting of the day.

As summer ended, some of those LET sessions became circuits utilizing high power movement exercises such as Sandbag Cleans, Jumping Rope, and Rowing or Skiing. We used circuits for their ability to fit into LET training principles, and to expose the wrestlers to different physical demands (odd objects specifically).

Now as the athletes are back in school, the results have been coming back as very positive. The college wrestlers are handling the "come to Jesus" moments, and the high school wrestler is leading the pack among their peers at off-season practices. All because we started early, and exposed them to a wide array of conditioning sessions targeting their needs.

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