High School Wrestling: John Jesse’s Wisdom on Strength and Conditioning – HIIT Workout Program

High School Wrestling: John Jesse’s Wisdom on Strength and Conditioning

Posted on April 13, 2018 By

In 1974, a book entitled Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia was released. This book was written by a person named John Jesse.

Conditioning trainer Vernon Gambetta writes, "You are probably asking who is John Jesse? John Jesse was an expert on strength training, injury prevention and rehabilitation from Southern California."

I never ever knew of this book’s existence till recently even though it’s obviously existed a long time. I came across it while browsing the internet and researching wrestling fitness.

I borrowed a copy from your public library and found it fascinating. John Jesse’s book does not seem that outdated even though it has been published 38 years ago. He actually knew a lot about strength plus conditioning.

So, what did he or she know?

Year-Round Training

Jesse emphasizes the significance of continuity in training. Continuous 365 days a year physical training is imperative in case a wrestler wishes to be successful. When talking about the importance of continuity he points out that will, “Repeated efforts are required for the formation of conditioned-reflexes in the nervous system required for the development of great skill.”

A wrestler needs to train constantly the entire calendar year. However, Jesse identifies the importance of breaking down the yearly teaching into cycles. Jesse divides the particular year-round training into four series.

The Four Cycles

  • Transition (Active Rest) Cycle – a period of just one month immediately following the competitive season
  • Basic (Foundation) Cycle – an interval of five months divided in to three stages
  • Principal (Specific Preparation) Cycle – a period of 2 months
  • Competitive – generally an interval of four months

Jesse recommends to take one week totally off rigtht after the season and then begin the changeover cycle. However, you are not to engage in a wrestling or skills work throughout the transition cycle. During that routine one should abstain from any wrestling, however, you need to begin training for strength, stamina, and flexibly again. If a person take too long of a break the particular physical attributes you’ve gained will start to dissipate.

I’m sure that most of you might have learned about the concept of periodization. Well, from this article you can see, that’s exactly what John Jesse will be writing about.

In this current age group, periodization is still used. Periodization is actually just planning your training. Dr. Fred Hatfield (a. k. the. Dr. Squat) is a big suggest of periodization. In an article eligible The Simplicity of Periodicity he or she writes of the “tremendous value of short-term periodization in your training.”

Moreover, he provides, “As your competition draws nearer and nearer, your training objectives change, and therefore your training methods change commensurably.”

Sports scientist Tudor Bompa reports, “We either have periodization or chaos.”

John Jesse writes something much the same in his book. He states, “Without a long-range training plan the athlete’s training can easily degenerate into chaos.”

Jesse knew what he was speaking about.

Do you think champion wrestlers just work out during wrestling season? Do you think they train in some aimless fashion? No! They train 365 days a year with a well developed plan in mind exactly like John Jesse advocated and power and conditioning experts still suggest.

Individuality and Specificity

Regarding individuality Jesses writes, “Training is an individual issue. All individuals react differently towards the same training load.

Further, he or she states, that “No athlete ought to base his training plan on that will used by some champion or exceptional athlete particularly as to the intensity of teaching loads. “

For instance, a high college wrestler may not be able to tolerate the courses load that a college wrestler grips during a training year. You might not be able to train with the same fill or intensity that Dan Gable or John Smith used whilst training.

According to Dr Fred Hatfield, there are seven laws associated with training that most sports scientists sign up for. One of those laws is the law of individual differences. According in order to Hatfield, “We all have various abilities and weaknesses, and we almost all respond differently (to a degree) to any given system of training. These differences should be taken into consideration when designing your own training program. “

Jesse knew the importance of identity just as coaches do now and you ought to too.

Regarding specificity Jesse produces, “This principle maintains that teaching and its effects is specific towards the muscle cells, organs and actions of the body in the development of possibly strength, endurance, flexibility or ability. “

Further, he states, “The specificity principle is of particular importance towards the wrestler who requires various types of power and endurance in order to excel within competition. “

Another of the seven laws and regulations of training is the specificity principle. According to Hatfield, “You’ll get stronger at squats getting into squats as opposed to leg presses, and you should get greater endurance for the race by running long distances compared to you will by (say) cycling lengthy distances. “

A closely related regulation is the SAID principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.

You are a wrestler. Therefore, you need to wrestle to improve at wrestling. You must also train for the demands associated with wrestling. You are not a marathoner so do not train like a single. Wrestling is an anaerobic sport needing strength, power, endurance, and many other skills. So, train accordingly.

John Jesse knew the importance of specificity. Now you are doing too.

Supremacy of Strength

Jesse says, “The importance of strength in fumbling competition as the primary source of individual power is frequently underestimated by instructors and wrestler alike. Strength underlies all other factors when one views the total functioning of the body. Without sufficient strength other factors such as stamina, flexibility, agility, and skill can not be used effectively. “

Similarly, performance trainer Kelly Baggett states, "Maximum strength is the backbone upon which all other strength qualities lie. You’ll hear me talk a lot about being fast and the importance of speed, power, reactive ability etc. All of these qualities of strength are very important, but truthfully, unless you have enough raw horsepower in your engine you won’t be going anywhere or doing anything in a hurry!"

You might be interested in plyometrics, circuit training, as well as other modes of conditioning. However, your first priorities should be building a great strength base.

All-Round Strength

In Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia, all-round power or total body strength will be discussed. A wrestler wants their total body to work in an unified manner as a well-coordinated whole device.

Some exercises recommended for the progress all-round strength include the one provide get-up, two arm get-up, clod clean and jerk, barbell clean and cool, barbell push press, barbell cool press, deadlift, one hand swing, 2 hand swing, high pull in order to chest, and dead hang thoroughly clean.

It’s interesting to note that the a single arm and two arm get-ups and the one hand and two hands swings are illustrated using hand weights. These exercises are popular options now for athletes using kettlebells. The get-up is usually called the Turkish get-up. The Turkish get-up will be hailed as a fantastic all-round power and conditioning exercise. In add-on, the Turkish get-up is supported because it requires all the muscles

of your body to work together in order to accomplish the particular labor.

Kettlebell swings are considered the base kettlebell exercise and are said to reduce fat, build strength, and enhance cardio fitness.

His book doesn’t point out kettlebells, but John Jesse understood the importance of all-round strength.

Strength Endurance

John writes, “The type of endurance which is in general overlooked in the conditioning associated with wrestlers is strength endurance. It is perhaps the most important basic physical high quality a wrestler should develop. “

He suggests that one way of building strength stamina is to pick two exercises is to do 4 sets of each. You perform one set with 30, 50, 70, and 80 percent of the 1RM respectively. You would try this during the Principal (Specific Preparation) Cycle.

Some current strength and fitness coaches may argue that Jesse’s schedule is more suited to building muscular stamina than strength endurance.

The stage is that John Jesse knew that will after acquiring strength a wrestler needed to convert that strength in to strength that he could use repeatedly on the duration of a match.

Trainer plus coach Ross Enamait states, "Strength endurance is defined as the ability to effectively maintain muscular functioning under work conditions of long duration. Strength endurance is a vital strength quality for any combat athlete. Power and speed are useless without the stamina necessary to apply these physical attributes throughout the contest."

Similarly, strength and conditioning specialist Matt Wiggins writes about strength usually being the most beneficial when you can take advantage of that will strength over an extended period of time. He prefers to build strength endurance by utilizing heavy weights and shortened sleep periods.

Others prefer to do circuits using dumbbells or kettlebells coupled with bodyweight exercises.

The bottom line is that you desire to be as strong as possible for as long as feasible. Jesse really emphasized strength stamina in the strength and conditioning teaching plan of a wrestler.

Rotational Strength

John believed that athletes placed an excessive amount of emphasis on developing the muscles of the hands, shoulders and legs, while looking over the importance of strength in the muscles from the lower back, sides, and abdomen.

He states, “No athlete engaged in actions that involve rotational and horizontal movements against resistance such as fumbling, can truly project the concept of complete body strength in movement in case he is relatively weak in the muscle groups surrounding the lower trunk. “

When composing of John Jesse, conditioning trainer Vernon Gambetta states, "He was preaching tri-plane work in the late 1940’s. Big emphasis on rotary work, a surprise to the gurus of today who think they invented rotary work." He also adds, "His ideas are very contemporary; he was a man ahead of his time."

Interestingly, certified power and conditioning specialist Bret Contreres states that many sport movements consist of either large or subtle rotating elements. For example, imagine the wrestler attempting to take down an opposition. Does a double leg or even single leg take down only include strength in the vertical plane? We don’t believe so. You don’t raise your opponent straight up. One is generally lifting, moving laterally, and revolving.

Throws certainly occur in the slanted plane. What’s the transverse airplane? Or, for that matter, what are the sagittal plus frontal planes?

According to useful training expert Fraser Quelch, "As the body moves through space, it uses any combination of three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse." He adds, "Most traditional strengthening programs heavily favor sagittal-plane movement in a training environment that promotes one-dimensional motor patterns. These factors can undermine the body’s ability to move effectively in any given direction, and, in many cases, may lead to joint dysfunction."

Strength and fitness coach Chad Waterbury states, " Rotational strength is probably the most important power movement quality for MMA practitioners. Sure, deadlifts, cleans, squats, chins, etc . are great strength building exercises, but they just establish a base of strength: that will strength base must be further improved with rotational movements. "

So, you see, John Jesse knew the significance of rotational strength for combative sports athletes. He mentions various rotational workouts in his book involving barbells, swingbells, and sandbags. You may have no clue what a swingbell is. That’s good. There are many things an sportsman can do with medicine balls or simply just his bodyweight to exercise within the frontal and transverse planes.

Grip Strength

Jesse states, “No other sports activity requires the combined power and endurance of the grip because that required in the sport associated with wrestling. “

Similarly, Zach Even-Esh says, "Having strong hands and a powerful grip is misunderstood and undervalued by most wrestlers. Remember, everything passes through your hands in wrestling. The stronger your hands, the stronger your holds will be. The stronger your hands, the less likely your grip is to be a limiting factor in holding an opponent or finishing a move."

Joe Makovec, strength and fitness coach for the nationally ranked Hofstra wrestling team, discussed some grasp exercises with STACK Magazine (2007). He states, "We do a lot of wrist rollers and fat bar exercises, like rows and curls. We do a farmer’s carry, too, with a fat bar and with regular dumbbells. We also do a lot of pulling motions where you have to grip a rope."

Strength coach Charles Poliquin advocates thick bar practicing grip. In an article about solid bar training he tells a good anecdote about a Russian wrestler who else displayed his grip strength in a press conference during the 1970s simply by producing two pairs of pliers and proceeding to squeeze all of them so hard that they snapped. After this particular Russian wrestler defeated an American wrestler, the defeated US wrestler commented that when the Russian snapped up his arms, he felt as though they were locked in a vise grasp.

Can you maintain wrist plus hand control on your opponents within a match? It is essential to have a solid grip. Good grip strength may greatly add to your ability to manage or take down an opponent.

Hamstrings and Hips

Every wrestler has noticed how important the hips are in fumbling whether it be properly using your own cool strength and power or the have to control your opponent’s hips.

Jesse discusses the fact that most of the holds utilized by a wrestler employ the hamstring, leg adductor, and hip flexor muscles to a much greater degree than leg extensor muscles. He believed that the strength of the hamstring muscles also played an important function in the prevention of injury to the particular knee.

According to STACK Magazine (2005), Gary Calcagno, head power and conditioning coach for Oklahoma State University, says that reduce body strength training is as simple because doing squats, glute ham increases, and lunges.

According to Coach Dave Tate, "We have known for years that the Glute Ham Raise (GHR) was regarded as one the best movements for the posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves)."

And, Testosterone Magazine says of glute ham increases, "In addition to building up those hammies, it can also make an athlete virtually invulnerable to hamstring injuries as the movement lengthens the sarcomeres to an unparalleled degree."

You may not have access to a glute pig machine. Doesn’t matter. You can perform them without a machine. I’m basically pointing out that current power coaches realize the importance of strong hamstrings.

According to Coach John Gaglione, "The strength of a wrestler’s posterior chain is extremely important for optimal performance on the mat. Most athletes only focus on the muscles they can see in the mirror; often times neglecting the muscles they can’t see such as the glutes, hamstrings, and low back. This is a HUGE mistake, especially when these muscles play a paramount role in many movements you see in competition."

According to Patrick Dale, "Hip strength is vital in grappling sports such as wrestling and jiujitsu. Throwing your opponent to the ground and escaping from a pin attempt require power in your hip muscles. There are a variety of muscles that cross your hip joints, including the gluteus maximus or butt muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors."

Hip flexion brings the legs forwards. Hip flexors are the muscles that will bring the torso and leg nearer together Think of how you reduce your level before shooting a takedown.

Strength and conditioning coach Kevin O’Neill states, "Through my experience working with athletes in a variety of sports I have come to the belief that athletes and coaches do not train the hip flexors for strength gains nearly enough as they should."

He says the particular stronger the hip flexors, (along with the hamstrings and glutes), the particular faster the athlete is going to be.

It’s possible (even common) to have cool flexors that are too tight. It’s possible to overdevelop the power in your hip flexors as well that is undesirable.

Hip extension is extremely important as well. Don’t neglect the importance of hip flexion or extension.

Interestingly, Kelly Baggett claims that one of the main variations between average athletes and great athletes can be attributed to the power, development, and function of the glute musculature. I had no idea the butt were so important.

The anatomy plus physiology stuff can be confusing. I believe the main point I’m trying to create is that John Jesse knew the significance that the hamstrings and hips enjoy in wrestling and so do present strength coaches. He knew the result proper training of those muscles might have on performance and so do present strength coaches.

Anaerobic Endurance

Jesse talks about the fact that during a match a wrestler will engage in many bouts associated with oxygen debt activity. Therefore, the wrestler requires a high degree of anaerobic metabolism efficiency and resistance to air debt discomfort.

The author talks about the fact that a wrestler needs the capability to continue at a high level of operate the interval between the "oxygen debt" intervals of maximum exertion and still effectively clear the waste products of the air debt periods that produce exhaustion in the muscles.

Have you actually seen your strength or rate drop in the third period your own muscles were burning with exhaustion? It’s difficult to shoot a powerful takedown in the third period if you’re sensation fatigued.

The author discusses what sort of great capillary structure aids a jogger in his efforts to clear waste products through his lower body. However, working cannot help a wrestler to build up endurance in the other muscles associated with his body such as the muscles from the back, chest, arms, and shoulder blades. A different form of training is required for the.

Jesse states, “Strength endurance teaching programs develop the wrestler’s capability to tolerate “oxygen debt” (anaerobic endurance) plus vastly improve the all-important psychological high quality that is called the “will-to-win.”

It’s interesting to notice that strength and conditioning trainer Alwyn Cosgrove has a similar see. He states, "Some conditioning coaches use sprint training as their sole method of energy system development (ESD). This is at best a short-sighted approach. It is not uncommon to see well-conditioned fighters who have used sprint based ESD fatigue rapidly in hard matches. This is because although their cardio system is well-conditioned, the effect of lactic acid on their localized muscle groups is devastating. If we do not condition the muscle groups themselves to handle high levels of lactate, the cardio system will feel fine, but that area will lock up and shut down."

Cosgrove recommends making use of barbell complexes. Barbell complexes include doing a series of exercises one following the other without putting the pub down. Complexes may help condition the body to handle the high levels of lactate which will be produced during a wrestling match.

In their article The Physiological Basis of Wrestling: Implications for Conditioning Programs, Kraemer et al. (2004) state, "As a combative sport, wrestling imposes unique stresses on the body. From a metabolic perspective, the acid-base balance is severely disrupted. For example, a college or freestyle match lasts between 6 and 8 minutes (including overtime) and can elevate blood lactate concentrations in excess of 15 mmol/L and sometimes reach nearly 20 mmol/L."

In other words, the wrestling match can produce a lot of lactate. This disruption can cause fatigue. So, how can a wrestler train in order to tolerate this disruption? The writers recommend a circuit training structure with brief rest periods. Circuit training is similar to complex training. Interestingly, the authors (much like John Jesse and Alwyn Cosgrove) take note, "It is also vital that the upper body is trained in this manner to increase the capability of upper-body musculature to directly adapt to the dramatic acid-base shifts that occur with wrestling."

You may want to research anaerobic tolerance training, lactate threshold training, things, and circuit training.

Interval Training

You may be aware that interval training, specifically high intensity interval training (HIIT) is the rage right now. The Tabata protocol is especially popular. Interval teaching involves alternating between bouts associated with high-intensity work and recovery intervals of lower intensity work.

For instance, instead of running at a sluggish steady pace for 24 mins a person may run hard for just two minutes and jog for four minutes (6 minutes total) plus repeat this protocol 4 times (an overall of 24 minutes). Both training is 24 minutes in length, but the 2nd workout may elicit a different teaching response. Or, a person may carry out several 30 second sprints along with each sprint followed by a recuperation period and then run perhaps 10 sprints total.

The high strength nature of the training is supposed to burn off more fat, enhance one’s lactate threshold, and promote greater cardio benefit than traditional slow, steady-state cardiovascular work. An athlete’s function to rest ratio could be one: 3, 1: 2, 1: one, 2: 1, and other combinations.

Did John Jesse know about interval function? Yes! Regarding interval work teaching Jesse writes, “This is physical work or activity of a given intensity, interspersed with pauses.” Further, he or she adds, “The steady work uptake and the repeated slowing down or stoppages of work (jogging, walking, lying down, etc.) stimulates the organism to much higher physiological adaptations, thereby forcing the organism to its optimal development, endurance wise.”

Of course, even in 1974 when Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia was published interval training was absolutely nothing new. Interval training was first produced by German physiologists Reindell and Gerschler in the 1930s. Roger Bannister, the very first man to run the mile in less than 4 minutes, used interval training.

The point is that John Jesse understood the benefits that this type of training can offer to athletes including wrestlers. He knew that it had several benefits over continuous steady-state types of teaching.


John discusses the fact that sandbags are awkward to handle. That is among the main reasons that strength and fitness coaches advocate sandbag training.

According to strength coach Brian Jones, "During a sandbag rep or set the load may shift substantially from one side to the other, sag in the middle, or otherwise try to escape your grasp. Such shifting forces your core and stabilizers to work overtime in an attempt to get the weight back under control. You will be forced to work considerably harder to control a given load."

John Jesse also believed that will sandbag training mimicked the raising and pulling movements encountered within wrestling. Also, he believed that will sandbag training was good for establishing rotational strength and power.

Certified strength and conditioning specialist Mark Roozen states, "Using sandbags in a training program can help develop power, quickness, agility, and conditioning components. This can all be accomplished with a piece of equipment that can simulate contact, throws, and be utilized in ways that solid resistance equipment could not be used."

Sandbags are becoming a best selling training tool. You can find several articles online about sandbag teaching.

Calisthenics and Running Combined

Jesse produces, “Athletic coaches in all sports use combined programs of running, calisthenics, rope skipping, stadium steps running, etc., for the development of strength, muscular and circulo-respiratory endurance and agility.”

Strength and conditioning coach Mike Mahler likes the benefits that can be based on "roadwork." He states, "Here is how it works, go out for a jog and every 50 yards or so, drop down and do some bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups. Crank out 25 reps and then get up immediately and start jogging again. After another 50 yards or so, drop down again and crank out some more bodyweight drills. This is an efficient way to build up cardio and muscular endurance that will carry over to the ring."

For anaerobic endurance training Mike Fry indicates visiting your local football field. He writes, "Starting at the goal line, sprint to the 10 yd line and walk back to the goal line and do 10 push-ups, continue by increasing your sprint by 10 yds each time and walking back to the goal line. Do pushups after each return to the goal line." Make sure to perform a warm up before and a cool down later on.

Legendary wrestler and former Iowa Hawkeye coach Dan Gable utilized to enjoy utilizing the stadium methods of Carver-Hawkeye Arena to situation his wrestlers. Walking up all those steps with a buddy on your back again could be especially grueling.

Drilling plus Technique

Jesse emphasizes the importance of “improving skill (technique, use of leverage, etc.) to eliminate unnecessary movements that waste energy and use up oxygen.”

Personal physical fitness trainer Brian Copeland writes much the same words. He states, "It is always best to include skill practice before resistance or endurance training. The goal of skill training is not to just practice… it is to get better! It amazes me how often this simple principle is overlooked. It is my experience that people don’t really understand how to practice to make improvements, at least not beyond a basic level of skill. Skill practice is analyzing every single aspect of every movement you make and finding more efficiency, better leverage, etc."

If a single desires to use sparring as a way of developing endurance for mixed martial arts, power coach Charles Poliquin suggests, "The best way would be to pair up with 5 other fighters that each take turns to fight you. Since they are fresh, they will give you a run for your money. Depending on the system you want to develop you would manipulate the work /rest interval. For example 6-10 minutes work on fighter 1, 2 minutes off, 6-10 minutes work on fighter 2, 2 minutes off, etc. The permutations of that type of work are staggering. Twice a week should be plenty. What is good about it is that you will be forced to make decisions in conditions of fatigue, which is a determinant in MMA fighting."

Interestingly, in Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia, the author writes of a wrestling drill down for building endurance that is a little bit similar to the MMA routine above. He writes, "Wrestler remains on mat and wrestles for 9 minutes against a fresh opponent each minute, with 10-second rest intervals."

Cycling Work and Rest

Even though year-round training is motivated, one is not expected to train using the same volume and intensity 365 days a year. Jesse recognizes the need for varying quantity and intensity in the training strategy. Some days will be low strength, some medium, and others high. Some days may involve total sleep.

According to Dr. Owen Anderson, "Any periodization scheme must begin with one basic element – rest. This is intuitively and logically obvious: the human body simply needs ‘down’ (restoration) periods to recover from extended periods of stress; you must convalesce from the training you carried out in your just-completed mesocycle or macrocycle."

Proper Weight Reduction

John Jesse alerts the reader about the dangers and mischief of crash starvation diets plus dehydration. He recognized that accident starvation diets can have devastating results on a wrestler’s performance. He shows that it’s better not to diet until you actually have weight to lose. Many wrestlers are already lean to begin with and then deprive and dehydrate themselves to make bodyweight.

Professor William Kraemer points out that the wrestler will not be functioning optimally physiologically if he engages in dehydration procedures for the purpose of weight reduction.

He also records, "Adopting different weight-loss strategies that stabilize muscle mass and body mass to prepare for a match appears to be the best way to eliminate physiological breakdown and allow the wrestler to perform at a higher level of physiological readiness."

Improper weight loss techniques can be harmful to a wrestler’s conditioning and to their performance in competition.

Craig Horswill, PhD suggests some possible choices regarding weight loss in wrestlers. Describing one of these options, he writes, "Lift weights and grow into the weight class. Be stronger at the end of the season. How many wrestlers start strong but fade in the tournaments because they are burned out after weight cutting has taken its toll? If a wrestler can grow into the weight class to the point that he needs to begin cutting weight only by the end of the season, he spares himself three months of nutritional deprivation and improves his chances of not becoming over trained. He is fresh when it really counts."

Interestingly, John Jesse mentioned that a few wrestling coaches had achieved achievement by letting wrestlers stay from their natural weight or perhaps also gain weight during the season.


Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia also covers subjects such as flexibility, injury prevention, routine training, gymnastic apparatus exercises, isometrics, proper nutrition, and more.

In their article Seven Keys to Athletic Success, strength and conditioning trainer Alwyn Cosgrove discusses concepts associated with physical training such as the importance of power, explosive power, endurance, flexibility, injuries prevention, and core training.

John Jesse addressed all of those concepts in the book in 1974. You might want to borrow a copy of this guide or buy it online. I believe you’d learn a lot and enjoy reading through it. If you don’t read the guide it’s no big deal. The thing is that John Jesse knew that will proper training for wrestling based on technology as well as years of experience had the to dramatically improve a wrestler’s performance.

The main reason I had written this article is because I believe that John Jesse and his book deserve to become recognized and remembered.

But, like i said, you don’t need to read his book. So much incredible information regarding the practicing wrestling and other combative sports are available in books, magazines and journals, plus online. Take advantage of the prosperity of knowledge that is out there. Take benefit of science and let it help you end up being the best wrestler that you can be.

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