Real Strength: Understanding the Coaching Opportunities in Every Weight Room

weight-room-barThe weight room. Coaches and athletes everywhere appreciate the increasing importance of building physical strength, but most lack understanding of the nuanced benefits that strength training offers. Lifting isn’t just a blunt tool for developing explosiveness and strength, it’s a scalpel with the potential to develop the mind, body, style, and even potential, of any wrestler.

Zach Even-Esh, is a strength and conditioning expert with a background specific to wrestling. Below are some of his insights into the flexibility and importance of strength training.   

Training the Personality

weight_lifting-300x224Imagine if you had to train two groups of animals, one domesticated, the other wild. You’d probably prescribe to some different training methods wouldn’t you?

Just as training different animals would involve acknowledging their differences, personality can be taken into account for a strength training program. If a kid is soft, they need tough situations. If they are undisciplined, they need regimented situations.

Is your weakness perfectionism? Organization? Carelessness? Toughness? Focus? Perseverance? The structure of a workout can put anyone in a position where they have to simultaneously grapple with their bodies and minds.  

The Cobra/Anaconda Dynamic

6171499_85136fdc5f_mEveryone is aware of the stereotypical musclebound ogre who gases out after the second period, but there is another side to that coin.

What about the snake whose strength only seems to appear on the wrestling mat? Even though being strong in positions specific to wrestling is better than the inverse, it’s important to realize a few things about those who only feel tough in a cross body ride:

  • Understanding basic athletic movements is essential to injury prevention. If you have to pick someone up, it’s preferable not to throw your back out.
  • One dimensional strength will lead to one dimensional wrestling. There is a fine line between between mastering your go-to holds and being extremely predictable.
  • Athleticism can be developed. If a wrestler really wants to grow in terms of skill and ability, embracing the idea that they will never be strong in the weight room is a dangerous, limiting gesture to their potential.

No matter who you are, what your style is, or what your attitude is towards weight lifting, remember the weight room is an opportunity to grow your wrestling on every level. Even if you wrestle like a cobra, you can still squeeze like an anaconda. 

Weight Room vs Wrestling Strength

images-3Until fairly recently, perspectives on lifting for athletics were heavily influenced by the bodybuilding community. More muscle was better than less, all muscles were created equal, chest day was the best day of the week, and lifting was divorced from the functionality of athletic competition.

Now we know that lifting can be related to a wrestling match. Pulling trumps pushing, explosion can be taught, and movements are trained as often as muscles. The advent of sports specific training has done wonders for injury reduction, athletes conditioning, and translating the strength in the weight room to power on the mat.   

This extends beyond being just sports specific. Out of shape athletes can be improved with circuit training, weak athletes can train for muscle mass, leg riders can focus on developing flexibility, etc…

For more insights into strength training and combat sports, visit Zac Even-Esh’s websites, and



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