The step up from high school to college wrestling could more accurately be described as a giant leap in most cases. The competition will be tougher than anything you’ve faced in your entire career, and you’ll have to work harder than ever to succeed. Coaches will also expect you to be in peak form as soon as the season begins, which means the bulk of your training must be done during the offseason.

Whether you’re a prized recruit heading to a D-I school on a full scholarship or are trying to make the team as a walk-on, here are the four areas you need to concentrate on to ensure you’re ready for the physical demands of a collegiate program.


Excellent cardiovascular endurance allows you to perform well even when a match goes into overtime. Long-distance running, cycling, swimming, and other aerobic activities lasting 20 minutes or more will help improve your cardio conditioning.

Anaerobic fitness

Wrestlers expend large bursts of energy for short periods of time, which is why anaerobic fitness is also critical to success. Wind sprints or other interval workouts that involve intense exertion followed by a brief rest period will get you into shape quickly.

Strength training

Adding lean muscle mass without bulking up should be your goal in the weight room. You can achieve this by limiting yourself to 3 sets of 10-15 reps each on machines that target your arms, shoulders, chest, legs, back, and abs.

Mat sessions

Make sure you get plenty of mat time during your offseason workouts. Grab your wrestling gear, find a partner, and practice the fundamentals—takedowns, escapes, arm hooks, neck bridges, etc.—until you’ve got them down cold.

Transitioning from high school to college wrestling is a difficult process for most athletes. If you’re planning to continue your career at the next level, you can make the process go a lot more smoothly by following the above tips to get in shape before you even step on campus.