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Does Wrestling Build Muscle?

Last Updated: 16.05.22


You’ve got your wrestling boots ready for action. You watched professional wrestling on TV, you’ve looked up information about wrestling in school and you are ready to commit yourself to it. What you don’t know is whether you should still go to the gym or not. Do you get muscle just by wrestling or do you still have to work on them?

Luckily for you, we’ve thought you might ask yourself that so we came up with an article that will explore exactly how wrestling works the body and what kind of training is required of you to actually perform it. Whether you’re interested to wrestle locally or you want to become the next John Cena, read on to find out.


An Overall View

An important thing to realize from the beginning is that wrestling is a very demanding sport. If done hard and properly, it will tax your body, take its toll and you would feel it. Since every physical activity that you do builds muscle and wrestling works your entire body, it is safe to say that you can build muscle by doing this sport.

However, this is a symbiotic relationship, as any kind of success in wrestling will definitely require weight training. You cannot succeed on mat work alone since you really need to come into every match well prepared, well stretched, and ready to roll. You will not get that “jacked” look just by wrestling, but if you practice it and combine it with weightlifting, you have a good chance.

What this sport will give you though, is some other advantages that might serve you well in your life. First, wrestling will make you physically stronger, and we mean real strength, as in your whole body. We’re not sure if it will boost your bench press but you will look and feel stronger and more confident.

Second, you will get mentally tough. “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”. If for some reason you didn’t get the “Fight Club” reference, rolling and grappling with another human being will allow you to approach all kind of tense situations with a calm and confident demeanor, helping you in possibly all aspects of your life.

Even if wrestling won’t make you build muscle all by itself, you will definitely shed some weight doing it. Since it is a very intense cardiovascular activity, you’ll lose fat and you will also lose some water weight, making you leaner and better looking.

As we said, this is a sport which demands a very high cardiovascular activity so doing it will certainly be good for your heart, giving you great cardiovascular function. As you can see, even if wrestling does not purely build muscle, it gives you all kind of benefits body-wide.


What Exactly Is Muscle?

But how exactly would you define “muscle”? What should you get out of wrestling to make you say you’ve now got muscle? Do you want  – Hugh Jackman in “Wolverine” – type of muscle? If this is your endgame, as we said, wrestling alone won’t get you there.

If you incorporate a good weight lifting program along with the cardio you’ll be getting from here, we might see you in the next movie. However, if you want to be able to throw somebody on the ground and control them or if you’d like to be able to knee slide and explode from under a person when they sprawl on you, well this is a discussion to be had.

Since it requires you to actively control the person you are facing, wrestling will definitely make you handle this type of situations a lot easier. Big muscles don’t necessarily lead to good wrestling, but practicing this sport will grant you a lot of body and limb strength.

On the other hand, muscle is basically added weight on your body, even if it is “good weight”. Since wrestling is a sport that is contested in weight classes, every little amount that you put on or get off your body can make a difference in your next competition.

While the need to get more muscle is normal, wrestlers also need to get stronger as in learn to move that added weight around with the same speed they had before. See, muscle is not all-important in this sport, as speed is equally demanded to be successful.

An athlete getting stronger and more muscular is a good thing, but too much weight can mean less running around on the mat and getting tired faster.


A Bit Of Science

Even if we’re not all biology majors, let’s get into a bit of science to help you understand the different kinds of “muscle”, especially when it comes to wrestling. Muscle growth, in scientific terms, is called “hypertrophy”. Now, like anything else in this world, this hypertrophy can be either good or bad for your wrestling career and here’s why.

There are actually two types of hypertrophy we can go through, albeit not at the same time. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is, in simple terms, when the quantity of fluid in the muscle is increased. However, since there’s little to no growth in the actual muscle fibers themselves, the result from this is that even if your muscles get bigger, your strength will stall and stay behind.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy, on the other hand, is what will get you on top on the mat. This happens when the cross-sections of the muscle fibers themselves are increased, which results in them getting thicker and capable of producing more force. Since they produce more force, the muscle contracts harder and it can thus move more weight around, and this is what you should be after.


How Should I Train?

So we’ve established by now that even though wrestling alone will not get you ripped, it does help plenty with the way your entire body develops. Also, since we took a look at the exact muscle training you need, all should be good now, right? Since we want to watch you succeed, let’s talk a little about how exactly your training should look like to complement wrestling.

As we said, the best training to build muscle for your wrestling bouts is the one where the actual fibers get stronger so you don’t obtain that puffy look in your muscles. For this, you could use a really basic program with a few exercises for each workout. Focus on big exercises that target major muscle groups so you can be ultra-efficient.

Do squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, power cleans, bench press, and others such as these. This kind of compound exercising will stimulate all the muscles that you are already engaging when wrestling and will result in you getting a better aesthetic look and also improve your on-the-mat attributes such as strength and speed.

What About Nutrition?

Even if we told you from the beginning of the article that you can build muscle just by wrestling so go ahead and roll, the “if” would still be there. You can build muscle if you eat properly and maintain a clean diet. The bottom line of any muscle training program in this world is eating good, healthy foods or everything else you do will go to waste.

As a wrestler, eating for building muscle is something you really need to pay a lot of attention to. Since today’s athletes religiously follow scientific meal plans, it’s really all about how much you can and you’re willing to put in. For example, muscle growth is best achieved during the off-season, when you can take your time and recover your body after intense training.

When it comes to losing a few pounds to look more ripped and make the weigh-in just in time for the match, many wrestlers will sometimes go the unhealthy way of inducing sweating procedures and fluid restrictions so they can compete in their bouts. What you want to remember for this is muscle-wise, yours will be weaker after this experience so we don’t recommend it.



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