Wrestling is a sport that requires a great deal of physical training and conditioning. Athletes must balance various objectives, such as remaining within their weight class while properly fueling their bodies for the upcoming matches. Fortunately, there are several things they can do to help keep their bodies healthy and well maintained.
Wrestlers should make sure to have a balanced diet throughout their training. No one food has all the nutrients a wrestler needs to succeed, so the diet should be varied. It is a good idea to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, since these foods carry so much nutrient content. They also provide a great deal of fiber. Foods such as baked potatoes are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, and should be eaten frequently. The key is to not load the potato down with unnecessary and unhealthy condiments, such as sour cream. Good sources of protein, such as egg whites are also important. Before a workout, a wrestler should look to each complex carbs to give their muscles energy for the workout. After a workout, more carbohydrates and protein within an hour are great for recovery.
Since many wrestlers will diet on the days leading up to a match, after the official weigh in it is a good idea to have a solid meal that will provide energy for the meet. It is best to get a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates, protein, and fat, to help keep steady energy levels. Good meals may be eggs and toast, chicken or turkey sandwiches, or pasta with tomato sauce. Throughout a long competition it is a good idea to eat again about 45 minutes before a match, but it should be light food, such as fruit, energy bars, or light sandwiches. It is also worth noting that many wrestlers avoid citrus fruits and spicy foods the day of matches, as some find these foods cause nausea.
Since wrestling will challenge the body in nearly every way, conditioning should work on not only strength, but also power, endurance, flexibility, speed, and cardiovascular fitness. To work on these various systems, one recommended workout is kettleballs, which will work the hips and lower back but also the cardiovascular system. Burpees, which involve jumping and pushups, develop muscular endurance throughout the body, are another recommended workout.
Before a season begins, it is important for a wrestler and his coach to develop a reasonable expectation of the weight class for the wrestler. If a wrestler is looking to lose weight for their weight class, it is important to note that they should not aim to lose more than 2-3 pounds per week, as more than this means dehydration and excessive food restriction. Weight cycling should be avoided, as depriving the body of water and food in last ditch efforts to lose a few pounds can result in electrolyte imbalances and be unhealthy. The athlete should instead aim to follow a balanced diet throughout the season to maintain a relatively consistent weight. Any dieting done in the days before a match should be done with reasonable restrictions and plenty of fluids.
Wrestling is a physically and psychologically demanding sport. By keeping these tips in mind throughout the season, the athlete can go a long way in reducing the possibility of injury and remaining healthy throughout the season.
Alan Rosinski writes about wrestling as well as other high school sports and uses www.ciscoathletic.com as a reference for the article information.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
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