Dynamic Warmups

By Matt Krumrie | Oct. 27, 2017, 9:56 a.m. (ET)

No wrestler can succeed in practice if they aren’t properly prepared to practice.

No wrestler can win a wrestling match if they aren’t properly prepared to compete.

And no wrestler can do either of the above if they are injured.

By incorporating dynamic warmups into their training routine, wrestlers can better prepare for practice and competition, while reducing injury risk, because warming up in motion enhances muscular performance and power, says August Manz, head wrestling coach and strength and conditioning coach at Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

“If you don’t warm up, and jump into wrestling practice or a wrestling match, it may take a while for your body to perform at its optimal level,” Manz says.

Wrestlers, no matter what their age or skill level, need to gain every edge possible to be the best they can be. So look at incorporating dynamic warmups into your routine as another opportunity to give yourself an edge, says Jake Clark, a nine-time US National Greco-Roman champion, and Director of Wrestling at Takedown Gym in Brainerd, Minn.

“Wrestling is a very grueling sport—even non-wrestlers know of how tough our sport is,” Clark says. “Every little thing you can do to raise your level of performance, and to keep your body as healthy as can be must be implemented into your foundation. A dynamic warm up routine can help with your flexibility and explosion, both of which are important for wrestlers of all ages. Whether it’s while practicing, or during a match, there’s a good chance your body will be twisted, turned, or cranked in different directions, so make sure you’re as prepared as can be.”

Dynamic Warmups Defined

So just what is a dynamic warmup? In simple terms, dynamic warmups activate muscles that will be used during a workout or competition. Dynamic warmups improve mobility, allowing the body and mind to release the full potential of the human body. In other words, it helps a wrestler get in the zone, to train and compete at the highest level possible.

“Lack of a proper dynamic warmup, or using a static warmup, can actually increase chances for injury to your athletes,” says Mike Clayton, Manager, National Coaches Education Program for USA Wrestling. “Using a dynamic warmup helps move key joints and improves mobility and will help your athlete reduce risks of injuries that can frustrate, set back, or even destroy future opportunities in sport.”

When incorporating dynamic warmups, it’s important to understand the difference between mobility and flexibility, Clayton says. They are both very different.

“Flexibility is something we all have,” he says. “But without proper mobility in your joints, your body and mind won’t allow full range of motion or flexibility to create high performance. Our body thinks first of survival, not high performance. Improving mobility allows a body to reach higher levels of performance.”

Learn more about how to improve mobility in this video and through these tips and advice from Clayton.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching improves range of motion and body awareness, Manz says.

“Moving as you stretch challenges your balance and coordination,” he says.

For a complete dynamic warm up program, download this USA Wrestling dynamic warm up poster, and review the top four resources from this USA Wrestling educational resource page. Manz recommends coaches and wrestlers also incorporate these dynamic stretches/warm up exercises into their routines:

  • Lunge with a twist
  • Toe touches (bending down and touching your toes as your legs are straight)
  • Side lunges
  • Side squats
  • Russian march (kicking your legs up over your head)
  • Broad jumps
  • Shoulder and neck rolls
  • Knee pulls
  • Tumbling

Dynamic Warmups for Youth Wrestlers

Good news (and something any parent can relate to): Younger athletes generally can warm up faster than older athletes. So start younger kids on a very basic dynamic warm up and include games to make it fun, Clayton says.  

“Younger kids have less experience losing mobility as many of us older folks find out over time, so their brains have less memory of restricted flexibility which allows kids to be more bulletproof than adults,” Clayton says. “As kids get older, add more warm up concepts and build from just a few minutes into a more robust and structured dynamic warmup program.”

For example, start with some basic mobility movements and increase to some light drilling and hand fighting as part of the warmup routine.

Incorporating Games

Games are a great way to increase the room’s energy after a long day where kids sit in school with very little movement, Clayton says. And competition in practices is always a great tool to help kids learn and develop and games allow that to happen naturally.

“Ensure games and competitive energies keep the games safe so kids don’t get injured, but break games out to reinforce the technical components you want them to learn,” Clayton says. The USA Wrestling Core Curriculum program has nearly 100 drills and games that keep practices and warmups fun and exciting.

Dynamic Cool Downs

Incorporating a cool down period into your routine, such as after a tournament or competing in a number of matches during a day (also important at the end of practice), is also important, especially for athletes who are in peak training or competition mode. That is because of something familiar to all athletes: Build-up of lactic acid.

According to Clayton, lactic acid is what causes us to be sore after hard workouts or competition. The effective way to process lactic acid that builds up in matches or practice is to spend five to 10 minutes after a match or workout working at a moderate pace (jogging, arm and leg bike). After five to 10 minutes take another five to 10 minutes at an easy pace and start to replenish fluids and calories to help the body recover for the next match.

“Letting athletes sit down after a match and get tight will really increase soreness and can reduce the athlete’s confidence moving forward in the competition or season,” Clayton says.

Be a Well-Rounded Athlete

“We focus on building great all-around athletes so they can perform long after they are competing on a wrestling mat,” Manz says. “We feel a great athlete will be able to compete with great wrestlers on the mat if they can move and perform. Increasing flexibility can also be the difference on holding off take-downs and winning a close match.”

Preparing to train and compete takes preparation. Make sure that preparation includes a dynamic warmup. It prevents injury and allows athletes to compete at peak performance, giving wrestlers the edge they all covet and need.

Related resource
Download this dynamic warm up poster and put it in your wrestling room.