Alright, you might think it’s a bit strange that I am talking about professional wrestling in a fitness blog. Perhaps you think I’m biased in some way, and you would be right. I have watched professional wrestling on-and-off since I was a child. While I do not profess to be an expert at the topic, I definitely know a fair bit about it. However, if you are patient enough, you will see how I relate it back to fitness.
I am aware, however, that some people may not even have heard of professional wrestling, or perhaps only have a very brief understanding of it based on what they have come across by chance. If you are one of these people, I’m here to tell you that professional wrestling is basically watching people “beat each other up” in a ring using a variety of strikes, holds and specialised manoeuvres. It is not the same as Olympic or Greco-Roman style wrestling which has an emphasis on certain holds.
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that the term “professional wrestling” (or pro-wrestling) is inaccurate, and perhaps a bit of an insult to other forms of strength and technique-based wrestling. But it is what it is, and has been for decades. Pro-wrestling is classified under “sports-entertainment”, which means that it is not listed as a sport, neither are there betting odds for individual matches.
Many people who know about pro-wrestling often call it “fake”. In my opinion, this label is disrespectful when used to describe pro-wrestlers. Those in the industry will similarly agree. While it is true that the results of each match and the way the finish is are predetermined, this does not make it “fake”. It makes it “scripted”. The wrestlers still have to work together to determine how the match develops, as long as they keep within the parameters of time limit and their scripted endings.
Despite the fact that it is scripted, there are at least two things that are very real about professional wrestling, and this is where I relate this art form back to this blog. These two things are the fitness levels and the injuries sustained. Obviously I am going to discuss the fitness aspect of it more in this article.
Truth be told, pro-wrestlers do need a certain level of fitness to be at the peak of their craft. They do not need an incredible amount, but they need at least a certain level. If you have watched wrestling for a period of time, you will notice that wrestlers come in all sizes – small, medium and large.
The wrestlers that fall into the “small” category are sometimes known as cruiserweights or light heavyweights. These wrestlers are typically quite short and thin, but have some muscular definition with their svelte shape. These wrestlers tend to weigh no more than 100 kgs, or 220 pounds. Due to the fast pace of their division, they need to be in tip-top cardio condition. This means that their red muscles will need to be developed. A lot of their moves are effective because of the combination of speed, agility, and velocity.
Since a lot of their moves are aerial, they also need to have flexibility in order to perform moves that contort their body. They also need good balance so that they do not fall when climbing up an elevated platform. That means that their white muscles and nervous system have to be in great condition.
Let’s now move to the other end of the scale – the heavyweights. These giants are either really muscular or fat. Either way, they weigh a lot. Needless to say, they do not often go to the top rope to perform spectacular moves like the cruiserweights. A lot of their moves are “power moves” – either hard strikes or moves that involve lifting and slamming their opponents down.
Since heavyweights tend to be slower in their movement, they do not need that much red muscle. Perhaps that is why you see them perspiring profusely if a match lasts fairly long. However, they do need a great amount of strength to perform some of their moves. They also don’t need to be as quick because they tend to be able to rest more. This also makes sense because white muscles need time to recover as a lot of fibres are used simultaneously during each burst of movement.
The moves performed by a heavyweight, including lifting their opponents are not something that can be faked. They really need to have the strength to do so. As such, heavy-set wrestlers focus on strength training, with an emphasis on being able to cope with huge loads.
How about those wrestlers who are neither a cruiserweight nor a heavyweight? These wrestlers are the most common prototype these days, and tend to compete in a variety of title divisions. It is not surprising that these wrestlers need to have some skills from each of the extremes. This gives them the flexibility to alter their wrestling style, but also means they have to be well-rounded.
While it takes incredible strength and agility to perform certain pro-wrestling moves, let’s not think of wrestlers as super-humans just yet. The reality is that for every move, all the wrestlers involved have to cooperate. The wrestler on the receiving end of the manoeuvre actually helps lighten the load. However, the wrestler performing the move does need to use his own strength to go through with it. There is nothing fake about this! If he is not strong enough, the move will be botched, and someone is likely to become injured.
I hope that this short article has convinced you that professional wrestlers need to have a certain level of fitness in order to compete. The life of a pro-wrestler is a tough one. Not only do they have to keep fit, they have to do it on a tight and often stressful travel schedule, dealing with not just jet lag, but also being away from family for long periods.
Also, remember that sports entertainment not meant to be real. Combatants are actually working with one another to entertain the crowd. A lot of it is the art form of theatrics, which should look as convincing as possible. The aim of pro-wrestling is not to encourage violence in real-life, but to put on a spectacle that puts smiles on peoples’ faces. I hope you now have a greater respect for this industry if you hadn’t before.
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Mark is an all-rounded guy with dreams, aspirations, and a desire to be a better version of himself. Having conquered obesity, he set-up Granite Fitness to help regular people get in shape and stay healthy. Mark spends his days helping distressed Uni students through difficult situations. He holds three science degrees and a Diploma of Christian counselling. In his spare time, Mark does freelancing and runs a series of online operations with his business partner Atanas. Connect with Mark @ http://au.linkedin.com/in/marksptan