There are many advanced weight lifting exercises like the power snatches and cleans (1). The movement patterns of these lifts can translate into wrestling performance.
The deadlift is also a great exercise, especially for those who have just started to use resistance training as a means to improve wrestling performance.
Is deadlift good for wrestling? Yes! The deadlift is a compound movement working several muscle groups including the core, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and upper back. The strength can transfer to several wrestling moves such as the crouch stance, direct attack, suplex, the sulfa, reverse gut wrench and the sprawl.
For this reason, we have done the due diligence to discuss what the deadlift is, how you perform it, and how it links to some of the moves in wrestling.
What Is The Deadlift?
The deadlift is a multi-joint compound exercise that works practically every major muscle group in the body.
The lift specifically targets the
- Calf muscles (Gastrocnemius & Soleus)
- Quadriceps (Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Vastus inter-medialis, Rectus Femoris)
- Gluteus (Glute Max & Glute Med)
- Hamstrings (Bicep Femoris Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus)
- Upper back (Trapezius & Rear Deltoids)
This is from loading the kinetic chain of movements starting from
- Ankle Plantarflexion (pressing the foot against the ground)
- Knee Extension (straightening at the lower leg)
- Hip Extension (straightening at the hip)
- Scapula Retraction (drawing the shoulder blades backwards)
There are many variations of the deadlift which include
- The Barbell Deadlift
- Stiff Leg Deadlift
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Hex Bar Deadlift
- Sumo Deadlift
- Dumbbell Deadlift
- Jefferson Deadlift
How To Perform The Barbell Deadlift?
As we have highlighted, there are so many variations of the deadlift, but we have included a 14 step guide for the barbell deadlift. The Barbell deadlift is the most popular variation and the one that pops to mind when we say ‘Deadlift’.
Not to mention, the movements may have an element of transferability into the movements performed in wrestling.
STEP 1: Get to a squat rack. Place an empty bar on the floor.
STEP 2: Load the barbell depending on your training phase. Centre yourself with the barbell. Place the feed about shoulder width apart.
STEP 3: Your feet should point out slightly. Grasp the barbell with a overhand grip, just outside shoulder width.
STEP 4: Drop the hips. Bend at the knees and shift your weight to your heels.
STEP 5: Take a deep breath with the intention of drawing the air towards the bottom of the stomach. Brace the muscles on the trunk and the core in a 360° manner, then hold your breath.
How to Breathe and Brace During the Deadlift
STEP 6: Press from the ball of the foot while straightening the knee/hips. Finish by bringing the weight up and pinning the shoulder blades backwards, then breath out.
STEP 7: Drop the bar back to the starting point, then repeat the movement.
Is Deadlift Good For Wrestling?
To put this simple, strengthening the movements of the deadlift can also strengthen some of the movements in wrestling.
In this section, we have discuss in more detail, how the deadlift can improve wrestling moves such as:
- Crouch Stance
- Direct Attack
- The Sulfa
- Reverse Gut Wrench
- Wrestling Sprawl
1. Crouch Stance
Building a strong and efficient triple extension movement from the deadlift could translate into the freestyle wrestling crouch stance.
Similar to the deadlift, the crouch position thrives off strong leg and core muscles. Moreover, parts of the deadlift movement pattern would come into play in situations where you need to resist against your opponent or push against his/her resistance.
2. Direct Attack
While attempting to take your opponent down, from either going for the double leg or single leg take down, you would need to draw into a somewhat flexed position and extend from feet, knees and hip.
This movement has a similar movement pattern to the deadlift, because the deadlift also draws into a lifting position then extends from the ankle, knee and hip to lift the loaded bar.
Hence why we suggest that a strong and rapid deadlift can be transferred into a direct attack from the crouch position.
The suplex is that goliath slam that can earn you up to 5 points. The suplex is performed from the back of the opponent, but getting there in the first place is usually the trickiest part.
Without getting into the mechanics just yet, can we agree that you would somewhat lift and toss your opponent over your body?
To maneuver this movement, a wrestler would have to create ground reaction force starting at the feet, through to the knees, and then a strong extension of the hips and back.
The deadlift differs slightly, because to lift the loaded bar, a lifter would erect from a much lower range with less lower back extension to finish the movement (backwards lean).
Nevertheless, the triple extension movement of the lower body is used, therefore the barbell deadlift may improve the motor pattering (motion) of the suplex.
4. The Sulfa
The sulfa is similar to the suplex, but is done from the front of the body, with a slight variance in body and feet positioning.
During the Sulfa, a wrestler would be positioned closer with the feet in-between an opponent’s legs, which aids in leverage.
The same mechanics of the deadlift are used, but with a more exaggerated hip thrust and back extension.
5. Reverse Gut Wrench
A wrestler needs to have a considerable amount of strength and power to perform the reverse gut wrench.
Why? As a wrestler, you are literally ripping and manhandling your opponent off the ground from them being in a prone position (flat on the stomach and chest), grasping them from the guts, hence the name.
Once the opponent has been lifted close to the hip position, a wrestler makes a short bounce type of motion to get some elasticity and then produces another triple extension, flipping the opponent over the body.
You could think of this as a heavy deadlift followed by an immediate rapid partial deadlift with more elastic energy.
So a wrestler could periodize the deadlift with a heavy load and a moderate load with a faster rate of force development. Giving a wrestler brute strength and power to maneuver the reverse gut wrench.
A sprawl is an attempt for a wrestler to defend against an opponents take down attempt. Let’s say an opponent attempts a low double leg takedown from the crouched stance.
In order to defend against this move, a wrestler would need to match the height of the opponents take down, grasp over the opponent.
From this position, the wrestler would need to drive the feet and legs into the ground with a braced spinal erector to resist against the force delivered from the opponent.
For this to be successful, a wrestler would need to build strong lower body and core muscle groups.
Do you know of any exercises that can help? I do!
A BRUTAL HEAVY BARBELL DEADLIFT!
We know that the deadlift Is a great whole body exercise, with extra focus on the legs. The deadlift is relatively easy to perform and only takes 14 simple steps as we have highlighted.
Is deadlift good for wrestling? Yes, strengthening the kinetic chain of movements from the deadlift can have a direct link in many wrestling moves. The wrestling moves include the crouch stance, direct attack, suplex, sulfa, reverse gut wrench, and sprawl.
So why not give it a try and let us know if it helps? Happy lifting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Arguably! But I would say that it is certainly the best for wrestlers who are not familiar with the weights room. The Deadlift is easy to learn and it can build a foundation for other wrestling specific exercises like the weight lifting clean.
YES! exercises that work the lower body kinetic chain like the squat and car pushes. From the moves that we mentioned in the main discussion, we know how important the hip hinge movement is, so I like the idea of barbell hip thrusts to strengthen the joint and glutes.
Maybe, but resistance training will definitely be advantageous. Think about it, if one wrestler can deadlift 500 pounds and the other can not from neglecting weights, who is more likely to win a sprawl? Probably the deadlift guy.
- Garage Strength (2019) ‘Best Olympic Lifts For Wrestling| Build Mat Strength Fast!’ Available at:https://youtu.be/asF5JCapDoM (Accessed 27/12/2022)
- Holmes, C.J. ‘Understanding the deadlift and its variations‘ ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. 2020; 24(3): 17–23
- López-González, D.E. ‘Wrestler’s Performance Analysis Through Notational Techniques’ International Journal Of Wrestling Science. 2013; 3(2):68–89