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Tips on Wrestling in the Cold

Wrestling is at its peak during the coldest winter months. Folkstyle season is in full swing at the scholastic and collegiate levels, and international tournaments are being hosted around the world. Because the bulk of competition is going on during this time, it’s almost certain that you will run into cold conditions when practicing or competing. This guide will provide you with tips on how to deal with the cold in these situations.

Tip #1: Dress in Layers

How you dress is important when you are training in cold climates or preparing to compete in an unheated gym. Essentially, you want to dress in layers. Dressing in layers will allow you to regulate your body temperature much more easily. Not only will it help you stay warm, but if you start to heat up, you can remove a layer or two to cool down. Some individuals will need more layers than others, but typically these items are good options to use as layers:

  • Hooded sweatshirts
  • Sweatpants
  • Windbreakers/warm-ups
  • Thermals
  • Compression gear
  • Nylon/lycra tights (for competition)

Furthermore, covering your head is extremely important. Wearing a baseball cap, beanie, or the hood of your sweatshirt will help you retain your body heat.

Tip #2: Extend Your Warm-up

When warming up prior to training or competing in a match, it’s critical that you focus on raising your body’s core temperature. Essentially, you want to break a sweat to get a proper warm-up. It will be more difficult to increase your core temperature in cold weather, so you may have to extend your warm-up or, at the very least, increase its intensity. High-intensity workouts, like sprints, are great for warming up in cold weather. Jumping rope and light drilling are other good ways to break a sweat.

Hot Tip: Stay Warm

Keep all of your layers on until you step onto the mat to start your match. This will help you maintain the raised core temperature you worked to achieve during warm-ups. Also, if there is ever a break during your match, put on your layers immediately. Then keep moving to stay warm until the match starts up again.

Tip #3: Hydrate

Despite popular belief, you are actually at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated in colder temperatures. This is because your body works harder to keep its temperature high, in addition to decreased thirst. Even though you may not necessarily feel thirsty, it’s important to be regularly drinking fluids in order to maintain proper hydration. You should be consuming between 48 and 64 ounces of fluids daily, at the very least!

Start hydrating the night before and morning of your competition. Then try to consume at least 16 ounces of fluids two hours prior to exercising. Be sure to hydrate while you exercise, as well, drinking at least eight ounces of fluids every 15 to 30 minutes.

Tip #4: Fuel Your Body

In lower temperatures, your metabolism will also be working faster to regulate your body’s core temperature. For this reason, it is important to fuel your body properly to sustain your level of energy. Complex carbohydrates and fats are the best options of foods to consume, and you should eat up to two hours before exercising. Some of the best foods to eat in these conditions are:

  • Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Cheese
  • Meats
  • Cereals
  • Wheat products (breads, pastas, etc.)

When you are wrestling in the cold, it’s important to refuel regularly with foods containing carbohydrates. Sports drinks, fruit, and energy bars are great ways to maintain your energy levels. For more information about nutrition and the types of foods you should be eating, check out iSport’s guide on Nutrition for Wrestlers.

Tip #5: Choose Warm Locations

When you are competing at a facility that is as cold as an icebox, you don’t have very many options of places you can go to stay warm. You will typically be in a gymnasium — some are well-insulated and some are not. If you are in a well-insulated gym, it’s likely that the facility will remain warm and toasty. But if you don’t have that luxury, you might as well just sit outside. Here are a few suggestions when faced with colder facilities:

  • Heated mat room: Most tournaments will have some kind of mat room that is constantly heated. This is typically where the staging area is. It’s good to hang out there between matches.
  • Car: It may not be your best option, but if you are in dire need to keep warm, head to your car if you have one, or the team van. You may be able to relax with the heater on for a little while.
  • Bundle up!: If all else fails, bundling up in a blanket or sleeping bag is a good way to tackle the cold inside a gym.

Veteran of the Seasons

You should now have a better idea of how to handle cold weather whether you’re training or competing. The cold is something you must quickly get used to as a wrestler because it will be at its height during wrestling season. Use the tips provided in this guide and in time, you will be unaffected by frigid conditions. Good luck and stay warm!

Wrestling is at its peak during the coldest months of winter. Check out this guide for some tips on how to deal with low temperatures when training and competing.
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