Train Like A Wrestler and Shed that Turkey Poundage

Winter is the season many abuse to hide under sweatpants and jackets, obscuring their pizza-and-Chipotle-fueled bellies, all under the guise of “winter bod.” While I understand the hibernation instinct, I was never afforded that luxury. As a varsity wrestler in high school, my task was to stay at or under my weight class from December through February. While many assume that all wrestlers starve themselves to make weight, the reality is that many of us manipulated weight loss through careful diet and exercise.

Don’t waste the winter months gaining weight you need to lose come April. Diet like a wrestler now to show off a beach bod in March.

 

Diet

The core tenet of the wrestler diet is simple: stick to three square meals per day, no seconds and no dessert. If you’re like me, you probably eat this way most of the time. Small breakfast, big lunch followed by an even bigger serving of coffee, dinner with a side of Netflix. The trick is to cut out the snacks that inevitably sneak in the excess calories. Here’s what an average day might look like:

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, a little cheese, water or juice (no more than 1 small glass of juice).
  • Lunch: Protein of your choice (about the size of your fist), no more than 1.5 cups of rice or pasta, plenty of veggies. Stick to water, coffee or tea. No soda.
  • Dinner: Chicken, fish or tofu, either roasted or pan-fried in a little oil or butter. Rice and beans on the side, plenty of other veggies. Again, no soda.

For best results, I recommend that you avoid prepared foods. Prepared foods tend to be high in sodium and fat, causing you to carry extra water weight as well as take in unforeseen calories. Yes, this means limiting meals out, too. Your wallet will thank me later.

Exercise

All of this diet advice would be moot if you didn’t harness its value to the fullest extent, namely, by pairing it with exercise. To be quite honest, this is the easy part. I find it much easier to commit to the gym than, say, committing to not eating a whole pizza, but I digress.

The wrestler workout plan is simple, but taxing nonetheless:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday: Cardio of your choice, 30-45 minutes

  • If you choose to use the stationary bike, you must keep your RPM 80 or higher

Tuesday/Thursday: Lift

This workout should be quick, no more than 1 hour start to finish. Keep rest periods short.

Choose weights that you can perform for 12 reps, although you’ll not do more than 10 reps.

  • Squat: 4 x 10
  • Leg Press: 4 x 10
  • Bench Press: 4 x 10
  • Dumbbell shoulder press: 4 x 10
  • 3 ab exercises of your choice, 30 reps each

Saturday: Do some yoga, go for a walk, whatever you do don’t sit on your ass

Sunday: Sit on your ass today, you earned it

Difficulty Levels

Normal: The plan prescribed above. You’ll probably eat out once or twice a week, and you’ll most likely have a few drinks on Saturday.

Hard: The plan prescribed above, except you never eat out, and definitely don’t drink every weekend.

The plan prescribed above, you never eat out, and you’re sober for New Year’s.

Regardless of how intense you choose to make this diet, commitment is key. Don’t overeat, exercise plenty, keep cheating to a minimum, and you’ll be in prime form in no time.

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Learning Important Basics of Your Workout Routine

Having a routine is crucial to your progress in the iron temple. It’s important to develop a sound base and structure your workouts in a way that will allow you to build strong habits.

Never workout on an empty stomach

I’ve heard plenty of advice on why you should do cardio in the morning before breakfast or why you shouldn’t lift until hours after you eat. But the bottom line is that in order for you to kill your workout, your body needs to be able to readily metabolize glycogen. Going on a light-headed five mile jog in the wee hours of the morning may seem like a good idea, but there is no way to push your limits if you don’t have the fuel to do so.

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If you’re on a cycle where you’re doing both weight training and cardio daily, I suggest lifting in the morning and running at night. Personally I don’t like sacrificing anything in the gym. I would rather have a lighter run than a weaker lift.

Always start with compound exercises

This means exercises that target more than one isolated muscle group. If you’re doing chest, start with bench. If you’re doing legs, start with squats. A lot of lifting is mental, and you’re never going to feel like you’re getting stronger if you’re sacrificing weight on your main lifts because you decided to knock out 10 sets of incline flys beforehand.

Warm up, then stretch

Lots of people think it’s important to stretch before weight training. For most of us stretching first thing in the morning is like trying to jump rope with uncooked pasta. The key is to warm up with an exercise that will get blood flowing throughout your entire body so you’re ready to attack your workout from the very first rep. Try doing dumbbell step ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or burpees for two to three minutes before hitting the weights.

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90 minute rule

Another good rule of thumb that will lock you into a routine and force you to hold yourself accountable is the 90-minute rule. If you spend more than an hour and a half in the gym, you’re wasting time and your body is most likely going catabolic (essentially breaking down muscle for energy). It’s good to rest between sets, but focus on keeping your heart rate up. I have an unorthodox habit of walking to my water bottle or water fountain and taking a few sips after each exercise. This keeps my body moving and my breaks short and sweet. Limiting your time in the gym will keep you from losing focus and intensity.

And when you’re waiting in line for a rack or platform to open up, get in the habit of asking how many sets the person in front of you has left so you don’t end up standing there awkwardly with your hands in your pockets for thirty minutes. Ultimate workout buzzkill.

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Gainz, bro

A good workout always leaves you feeling some type of way, but don’t forget to finish it off with some type of whey. Get some protein into your system immediately so you can begin recovering and follow it up with a balanced meal such as chicken breast, vegetables, and a complex carb like sweet potato.

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Don’t let your routine become static

Staying consistent and organized within a routine is essential for your success, but there comes a time when your best friend will become your greatest adversary. Letting your routine become static is the number one reason you will stop seeing improvements, which is depressing and aesthetically demoralizing. Be opportunistic at the gym and know the overall scheme of your workout so if it’s crowded you can do your exercises in any order. This is also helpful because it keeps your body guessing. Whether you realize it or not, your muscles remember whether you always follow up leg press with leg extensions. When you feel yourself losing motivation and plateauing in strength, switch your program.

The most important part of any workout plan is staying dynamic within your routine. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.