III: Mettle Gears Shifted
How Do I Get Into Ring Shape?
Stock Reply: By getting into the ring often. You don’t train for a marathon by doing a bunch of push-ups everyday, you do it by running everyday. Likewise, you shouldn’t think you’re preparing your body for wrestling matches by doing an hour on the treadmill everyday.
Typical Advice Seeker Response: But what if you don’t have the opportunity to get in the ring often enough to get into ring shape?
Me: Try your best to replicate being in the ring through exercise. What type of movements do we do in the ring?
Advice Seeker: Um...like, hit the ropes?
Me: Yes, how do you run into the ropes? At a light jog or what?
Advice Seeker: No, you run at them full speed.
Me: Right. What’s another way to say “run at full speed”.
Advice Seeker: Sprint?
Advice Seeker: Sprint! Got it.
Me: Good. What other movements do we do in the ring?
Advice Seeker: Slams?
Me: Yes. What does lifting adult human beings off the ground require?
Advice Seeker: Muscles.
Me: Right. What does picking people up off the mat many times, possibly after sprinting, require.
Advice Seeker: Um...endurance?
Me: Yes. Muscles plus endurance…
Advice Seeker: Muscular endurance!
Me: Got it. Seems like what you want to do is learn to be able to lift heavy things and move efficiently while exhausted. Have you met my friend Superset?
Superset: TRY ME, MOTHERF***ER; SEE WHAT THE F*** YOU’RE MADE OF!
Me: Sorry. Superset can be a little intense, but, yeah, she’ll teach you to push through muscular fatigue like the badass that you aspire to be. Anyway, what other movements do we often do in the ring.
Advice Seeker: Um… We have to lift our own bodyweight off of the mat often.
Me: Have you met my friends Burpee and Hindu Squat?
Burpee: TRY US, MOTHERF***ER; SEE WHAT THE F*** YOU’RE MADE OF!
Me: Sorry. I hang out with some intense friends. What other movements?
Advice Seeker: Rolls?
Me: Do ‘em. In the damn grass if you have to. What else?
Advice Seeker: Well I like to do highflying moves. How do I practice those without a ring - without ropes?
Me: Have you met my friends Flat Handrails? Go outside: they’re everywhere.
Handrails (in unison): ARE YOU COME TO PLAYS WITH US???
Me: Sorry. They’re a bit creepy. Keep ‘em coming; what else?
Advice Seeker: Climbing the ropes?
Me: Right. Climb...you know...like, anything. Especially while you’re tired. Balance? Don’t make me invite Handrails back over. What else?
Advice Seeker: Holds?
Me: Yes. What does that require?
Advice Seeker: Grip strength?
Me: Yes. Forearm workouts. What else do holds require?
Advice Seeker: A very specific kind of muscular endurance?
Me: Yes. Meet my friend Plank.
Plank: TRY ME, MOTHERF***ER; SEE WHAT THE F*** YOU’RE MADE OF!
Squat: HOLD ME, MOTHERF***ER; SEE WHAT THE F*** YOU’RE MADE OF!
Weights: HOLD US UP, MOTHERF***ER; SEE WHAT THE F*** YOU’RE MADE OF!
Me: Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Anyway. What else?
Advice Seeker: Um… I think that’s all.
Me: Okay. 3 rolls, 2 burpees, 5 pushups, 1 springboard, 2 eighteen-foot sprints, 1 thirty second plank. Go!
Advice Seeker: …, …, …, …, …, …, …, … *Huff* Huff* *Huff* Duhh*huff*ahem*Done!
Me: *Snapmares them and puts them in a Rear-Chinlock in which I lay all my weight on them.* How are you doing?
Advice Seeker: *Gasp* I! *Gasp* Can’t! *Gasp* Breathe! *Gasp*
Me: *Let’s go.* What did we learn?
Advice Seeker: That you’re a d**k?
Me: No. Well, I mean, yes, but what else did we learn?
Advice Seeker: That it’s really f**king hard to breathe with a whole person laying on you and putting you in awkward, painful positions?
Me: You’re damn right. Have you met my friend Hatha Yoga!
Hatha Yoga: *In a very calm, loving voice and content smile* Try me, motherf***er; see what the f**k you’re made of. *Namastes*
Me: Fair warning: he’s way more intense than he seems. I think that covers how to build a decent foundation to ring shape. Now, imagine doing all that while cameras are on you, people you look up to are watching you intently, the opportunity to achieve your dreams hangs on the balance of performance, and groups of strangers may be screaming out your worst insecurities at you. How does that sound?
Advice Seeker: Like an adventure.
Me: *Nod and subtle smile*
Well there you have it: a brutal, mind-body-human-spirit testing training regimine that will still fall short of actually having pro wrestling matches inside a ring, in front of a crowd, many nights a week at getting you into ring shape, but will surely get you way closer than treadmilling your way to cardio mediocrity.
The in-depth answer: I’m glad you asked this question, because if you want to be a great wrestler, you absolutely have to be in great ring shape. That doesn’t mean you have to look like a bodybuilder or have eight pack abs, though those things will help you further your career in other ways. It means being able to move quickly when your body is telling you it doesn’t want to move period. It means getting the wind knocked out of you by a chop, stomp, or slam, and knowing how to readjust your breathing efficiently. It means climbing to the top rope when you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically beat down and there’s a voice in your head screaming “quit”. I means remembering that people may have worked extra hours at a job they hate in order to be able to afford to watch this match and living up to that pressure even when your lungs and muscles are begging for mercy. It means being ready to go to a 60 minute draw. It means being game for “Five-More-Min-utes!”, and five more than five more. It means being mentally tough enough to keep picking yourself off of the mat when the crowd is making you wish you could get away with crawling under it. It means doing all this when you didn’t get enough sleep. It means doing all this when you’re already in pain. It means doing all this when you didn’t have time to stop for food or get a coffee. It means training for all this when you don’t feel motivated, when you don’t feel well, when you don’t feel appreciated, when you don’t feel like it’s worth it.
Really, it means: honestly, this sh** ain’t for everybody. If you don’t know it, look up the word mettle. If you’re being completely honest with yourself, do you believe in your heart-of-hearts that you have mettle?
Yes? Good. Me, too, even though, admittedly, I don’t always live up to it and have to deal with the painful consequence of it.
So, let us drag our asses off our asses and go test our mettle shall we?