The Muscles Used in Wrestling

man in gym training with dumbbells

Wrestling is an aggressive contact sport that requires the knowledge of various maneuvers and positions to successfully pin your opponent or win on points. It's a total body workout and at the same time, highly neck- and grip-specific in terms of its muscle demands. In addition to your neck, the three essential muscle groups used in wresting are your biceps, abdominals and thighs.


Your bicep is used to throw and pin opponents. Your biceps also help you effectively pull opponents down to the mat. An arm drag is a basic wrestling move that requires you to move to the left side of your opponent and pull him to the ground. While the bicep pull gets him down to his knees, you still must rotate around him, pushing your weight on his back to score a takedown. To increase muscle mass and tone, perform bicep and hammer curls using dumbbells.


Neck muscles in wrestling are used in conjunction with your back muscles to escape pins. In addition, your neck muscles can help you avoid a takedown by keeping you centered on the mat. The headlock is a common wrestling move that is used to gain positioning and pull you off balance. If your neck and upper-back muscles are strong, the weight of an opponent's arms coming down on your neck will not instantly knock you off balance or bring you to the mat. This strength buys time, allowing you to get out of a headlock and avoid a takedown. Practice the Four-Way Neck exercise with a partner to strengthen the muscles in your neck.


During a wrestling match, your thigh muscles, as well as your glutes, are used anytime you try to push or lift your opponent off the ground. To strengthen your thigh muscles, perform leg extensions on a machine in the gym. If you are looking to perform a thigh exercise without a machine or unnatural resistance, try exercises like the Piggyback Lift, the Buddy-on-Back Squats, lunges and the power clean.


Your abdominal muscles, often referred to as your core muscles, are engaged in almost every movement in wrestling. Abdominal muscles help you finish takedowns and escape possible pins. The core muscles help you escape a pin by giving you additional strength when lifting your body up and off the mat. The same muscles that lift your upper torso off the floor during a crunch are used when escaping a pin. Isometric exercises, such as planks, will help strengthen your abdominal muscles, along with crunches, situps and exercise ball crunches. Do these exercises five days a week, starting with 100 crunches or situps. Increase the number of repetitions as your strength improves.