• May 24, 2023

In-Season Fight Weightlifting – 30 Second Workout

Incorporating weightlifting into a busy fight season can be tricky and should be done with caution. A program designed to produce strength gains often involves heavy lifting and should include at least a few individual repetition maximums as tests. Due to the great demand on the athlete’s nervous system and the possibility of injury that comes with heavy lifting, this type of program should be avoided while in the midst of a strenuous competition program. Weight training programs during fight season should be used more to maintain muscle size and strength than to build them. On top of all the heavy lifting, building muscle also requires extra calories; most wrestlers try to be as lean as possible during the season to gain weight and don’t eat to get bigger and stronger. In the off-season, wrestlers don’t have to worry about being a certain body weight, they can eat whatever they want, and they have more time to recover from heavy lifting. This is the best time to build muscle. To maintain the muscles and stay in good condition, the repetition schemes for fight season weightlifting programs must be higher; 8-15 with sets of 5 reps as low as they should be.

For a good and safe in-season weight lifting system for wrestlers, consider the ’30 Second Program’. This is a program that requires a fully equipped weight room, but is not dependent on specific equipment. It is designed for a team of 6-10+ athletes to train all at the same time and should not take more than 30-35 minutes max. The program consists of a series of exercises, each performed at different stations in the gym. The athlete will perform as many repetitions as possible in a 30 second time period and then switch to another station. Choose at least 6-8 stations for athletes to visit with minimal rest times between stations. The coach should use a stopwatch to time the 30 second intervals and tell the athletes when it is time to move on to the next stop. Athletes should be given just enough time between sets so that they are well prepared for the exercise they are about to perform. If there are more athletes than stations, add 1-2 non-activity rest stations for recovery time; however, no more than this will alter the conditioning aspect of the program.

One of the best things about the 30-second program for in-season wrestling is the fact that only light weights can be used. This reduces the soreness factor (if the athletes are in good shape) and virtually eliminates the possibility of injury. The amount of weight used for each exercise should be something the athlete can do for 20 repetitions. Each round this number should get harder and harder to achieve, however the weight should stay the same throughout the cycle. If the reps drop dramatically after the first round, the weight is too heavy and should be lowered. This means that the athlete chose the wrong weight to start with or is seriously out of shape. Exercise selection is also very important in making the program possible. For more conditioning, mix upper and lower body exercises in the same cycle. To build/maintain size and strength, separate upper and lower body exercises into their own cycle. Ideally, if you have chosen the correct exercises, participants should be able to complete a complete cycle 3 times. This is a good volume for athletes who are in shape during wrestling season.

For upper body day, choose antagonistic exercises so that the athlete pushes on one set and then pulls on the next. For example, don’t choose two back-to-back bench moves; this will cause burnout and the athlete will most likely not be able to get the correct rep scheme on the second exercise due to fatigue. Also, don’t schedule isolation arm exercises into the mix. The arms are small muscle groups, they tire quickly and will make the athlete too tired to complete any more cycles of the program. Here is an example of a good 30 second upper body program. With each athlete at one station, perform as many reps as possible for 30 seconds, then rotate to the next station…

Bench press

Chest Supported Rows

Hang Cleans (reps of 12, not 20)

DB Lateral Sides

Incline DB Press

Low Cable Row



As a warm-up, perform several sets of high repetitions on the bench, lateral lats, lateral curls, or push-ups with very light weights, training bands, or both. For lower body day you can program several types of squat movements, however only use the bar for one exercise if possible. Also, do not use any type of barbell deadlift in the program. Here is an example of a good 30 second lower body program. With each athlete at one station, perform as many reps as possible for 30 seconds, then rotate to the next station…

leg curls

Kettle Bell Front Squat (Front squat holding a kettlebell or DB at chest level)

DB Deadlift (10-12 reps, not 20)

Seated Band Only Leg Curl (seated leg curl using only a training band for resistance)

back squat

kettle bell swings


The 30 second program training can also be used for basic development. Choose exercises that include abs, obliques, lower back, and hips. Try hitting the core from numerous different angles for the best strength and performance result. With each athlete at one station, perform as many reps as possible (or for planks, hold the position) for 30 seconds, then rotate to the next station…

reverse hypers


Hanging leg raises + side bends

kettle bell swings

Side Bends DB (30 sec. each side)

Mountain climbers or TRX pikes


Again, when choosing exercises to complement your program, avoid working the same muscle group (or a very similar movement) back to back. For example, don’t do Roman chair sit-ups and then rotate to another type of sit-up that works the front abdominal wall again. Consider trying the 30 Second Program as a good safe lifting method during wrestling season. It is also effective as strength training and for getting in shape during a strength conditioning phase of preseason training.

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