I love wrestling.
And I like judo, sambo, jiujitsu, and other grappling sports.
Today I want to share some of my favorite wrestling exercises using the freakin’ sweet ValSlide training tool.
Wrestling demands a full body strength and mobility that you don’t find in ball or net sports. The positions are unnatural and the forces applied are extreme.
The ValSlide is made-to-order for wrestling training outside the mat room. Below are exercises that will strengthen your neck, core, arms, and legs in grappling specific ways. Check ‘em out:
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 1: Ball Spins
In wrestling your opponent can hunker down and block you on one side when you’re down on the mat – and to do anything you have to spin over the top to the other side before you have an opening.
The ValSlide Ball Spin helps you train the “body awareness” that you need for a fast spin.
Basically, you put a ball under your sternum and spin yourself in circles. You can time how long it takes to get 10 rotations in one direction and try to beat your time.
You can hit a specified number of reps back and forth. You can progress to using one arm or one leg at a time.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 2: Hamstring Curl To Reverse Bridge
Hamstring strength is VITAL in grappling! And while in MMA fights you aren’t worrying about getting pinned, so the bridge isn’t as common a technique as it is in pure wrestling, you still need to strengthen your neck and work on the back bridge motion for throws.
If you’re in advanced condition, you can hit these without arm support, use one leg, or wear a weighted vest.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 3: Crippled Dog Push Up
This is a great way to train upper body strength and explosiveness.
The Crippled Dog looks way easier than it really is, I had a high school team give them a shot last week and several managed epic faceplants trying to reach too far too fast.
As a progression, I’ve used one leg in the air or else worn a weight vest, but I bet if you were a freaking maniac you could do these with one arm.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 4: Front Bridge Push
A weak neck will equal a wrestler who loses. Strong neck = strong defense.
When I was a heavyweight wrestler in college, I used to ride all of my weight on my opponent’s head until their neck got tired, then I could have my way with them.
I actually used to train this movement on basketball courts while wearing a beanie, but the ValSlide makes it possible to do these anywhere.
TIP: Place the slider halfway between your forehead and the crown of your skull. You’re less likely to flip yourself over. Trust me.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 5: Forward Plank Walks
These are also called “Army Crawls” after the motion used to get under low barbed-wire fences.
Once these become too easy, push yourself backwards with the same arm motion.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 6: Lizard Crawl
Keeping low and driving with the legs is how you flip your opponent on the mat.
If you lift your hips as you drive forward, your center of gravity is too high and they can reverse your push – pinning you instead.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 7: Plank Walk Up
These help when getting up from referee’s position in wrestling, but even if you’re not a wrestler this exercise is one of my favorites for the arms and core.
You don’t have to have your feet on ValSlides for this, but ValSlides are the bacon of exercise: They make everything better.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 8: Tiger Push Up
These are a triceps KILLER!
Start off in a plank position with your feet on the ValSlides. Now press down through your hands and straighten your arms.
You’ll feel a strong pull through your ab muscles and a delicious pump in the back of your arms.
When most athletes do a Tiger-style pushup, they push themselves back instead of up. Putting your feet on ValSlides keeps you from pushing back, since you’ll just start skidding and won’t be able to do the exercise correctly.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 9: Bucket Push
Rather than having a specific sport carryover, these are a phenomenal conditioning tool.
Keep your butt as low as you can on these and DRIVE yourself forward.
Know why I call these bucket pushes? You’ll be looking for a bucket after a few trips up and down the court
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 10: Push Back
I actually use these to teach the “hips back” part of a sprawl defense.
It’s very common to use a sprawl to defend against a take-down, but younger wrestlers seem to want to take the impact on their arms and chest instead of on the hips. (I prefer going for the cross-face and twisting their neck instead of sprawling, but that’s because I’m mean)
This exercise gets them used to the backwards motion with their hips down.
It is also a good upper body conditioning exercise in it’s own right.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 11: Deficit Lunge
When you shoot a low single leg takedown, you’re DEEP on your front leg and you have to build enough drive and speed to get through your opponent’s defense:
The deficit lunge is a great way to train this movement in a progressive loading style, instead of just having your coach tell you to do it faster or better, you can now qualify your training on the motion.
And once you have the movement down, you can start loading (I’m holding dumbbells, but I also like kettlebells in the clean position or a sandbag to bear-hug)
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 12: Walk Walks
I like the wall walk without a valslide, but when you through in the lack of traction on the wall, this becomes an intense core and shoulder challenge.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 13: Kettlebell Alligator Walks
You can do the alligator walk with your hands in pushup position and no weights.
For a great core, grip, and shoulder stability challenge though – use the kettlebells:
Advanced athletes can add a row to the hip after each step.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 14: Accordion Side Planks
In a perfect world, everyone’s pike out from underneath their opponent would be smooth and beautiful.
Unfortunately, everything goes to hell in a handbasket when the ref starts your match and all of your pretty moves become uglier than this guy:
The accordion side plank allows you to train stability as you pull your feet in to your body while they’re trying to slide awsy from you everywhere.
Advanced trainees can do these with either a straight arm or a weighted vest.
ValSlide Grappling Exercise 15: Wall Runs
This is less a single exercise than a drill I use with grapplers. It consists of a bucket push, valslide handstand pushup, and slide back pulls – all in a row.
In this vid I’m staying in close, but we often lengthen the distance for the bucket pushes and drive backs so everything gets taxed, not just the shoulders.
It would rock to have some comments below with your favorite ValSlide exercises, and what you use them for.
Thanks, talk soon.
~ Luke Wold