Cardiovascular Training For Wrestlers - Part 1.

In part 1 of this series on cardiovascular training we will look at the body from the heart, muscles and lungs. Let's take a look at how exercise affects the body ...

When the whistle blows and the match begins it's too late to wonder if your cardiovascular training is going to carry you through to the end. Wrestling is a high-intensity sport. Thus, conditioning for wrestling calls for high-intensity training.

In addition, wrestling not only requires high intensity power output but an ability to sustain this output for up 6 minutes. Cardiovascular conditioning is one of the most important aspects of a wrestler's training but many times we see wrestlers during the season running for miles only to find themselves tired after the first minute of a match. Many wrestlers ask why this is; the answer is simple, they are training the wrong energy system.

In part 1 of this series on cardiovascular training we will look at the body from the heart, muscles and lungs. Let's take a look at how exercise affects the body.

Exercise's Effects On The Body

When we exercise, our muscles use ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for energy. ATP is the only form of energy the muscles can use. Since this is true, if there was no ATP already synthesized and stored in the tissue cells, you could not perform immediate strenuous work, such as picking up a heavy object, or walking up a flight of stairs.

The following events occur in the cell to produce ATP energy:

First, there are about 4 seconds worth of ATP already stored in the cells. After this period of sustained muscle contractions ATP in the working muscle is exhausted and the cells resort to the use of Creatine Phosphate and ADP to create more ATP which can provide energy for about another 25-30 seconds.

Therefore, the cell has a total combined storage of energy available to last up to about 30-35 seconds during sustained muscle contraction before the cell must resort to the conversion and use of stored muscle glycogen.

When energy is needed for longer than 30-35 seconds, stored muscle glycogen is broken down to produce ATP. The end product of this process is then converted into Pyruvate which can also be used for ATP production in the presence of oxygen.

ATP: What Is It & Why Is It Important?
For your muscles - for every cell in your body - the source of energy that keeps everything going is called ATP. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the biochemical way to store and use energy.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

What Does This Mean To Our Bodies?

Well since the heart and lungs are somewhat slow delivering oxygen during the onset of aerobic activity, the pyruvate is used for energy until the heart and lungs catch up and can keep up with the oxygen demand.

The rate of breathing is extremely labored at the onset of aerobic exercise because the heart is not yet beating fast enough to provide an adequate volume of oxygenated blood to the working muscles, and the lungs try to compensate until the heart catches up.

Once the heart catches up and can provide sufficient oxygenated blood, the respiration decreases, when this happens it's called "getting your second wind." With that in mind, as your heart becomes stronger, more oxygen will be transferred through the blood system into the muscles.

This will help prevent early fatigue. As your mind adapts to an increased workload, you will be able to ignore the discomforts that precede fatigue.

The Energy Delivery Systems

During the course of a wrestling match both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are called upon to supply the energy demand. When an athlete trains by running 2 miles a day they are training their aerobic energy system (also referred to as VO2 Max).

Calculate Your VO2 Max!

Enter the total distance covered in meters in 12 minutes and then press the 'Calculate' button.

* 1600 meters = 1 mile
* 5280 feet = 1 mile
* 3 feet = 1 meter



VO2 Max: mls/kg/min

This system is considered to be the basis for all athletic conditioning. For wrestlers a good solid aerobic training program during the off-season will prepare them for the more intense demands of the season.

It's good to remember that recovery from anaerobic exercise occurs through the aerobic system, so throughout a match, at those times when the intensity may be decreased, the aerobic system will provide the energy to renew the aerobic system.

In part 2 of our series on cardiovascular training we will focus on what exercises provide the best results for wrestlers and how to prepare your training for the upcoming season.

About The Author

Michael Fry is the owner of Grapplers Gym and Grapplers Gym is the home for advanced fitness and conditioning for today's wrestlers. Subscribe to our FREE weekly Newsletter! Each issue is crammed with free training tips, articles, programs, exclusive discounts, strength/conditioning news and many more surprises. Mike can be reached by email at

[ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ]