10 Most Important Muscles for Wrestling: A Breakdown

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
October 5, 2022

Wrestling is a contact sport in the form of hand-to-hand combat and a group of combat sports that include grappling-type tactics. It utilizes almost every muscle in the body to execute various maneuvers, but some muscle groups stand out, and training these will help dominate the mat.

The most crucial muscles in wrestling are the ones that allow the wrestler to control their opponent. The abdominal and back muscles are key, as well as the muscles in the shoulders, arms, and legs.

These groups work together as one unit called a kinetic chain so when one group gets stronger than another, then all others will have improved strength and power.

For wrestlers looking to improve their wrestling game and take home the gold, it is paramount to recognize what muscles will help them do that. There are many important muscle groups in wrestling; knowing which ones to focus on is what separates a good wrestler from an average one.

What is Wrestling?

Wrestling is a sport that has a long, rich history. It's been around since ancient times and became popular in the 1800s when the industrial revolution created new jobs for people who were strong and could lift heavy objects. 

men wrestling

Wrestling was originally used for entertainment purposes, but today it is used as a way to train athletes and promote fitness, health, and strength. It is also seen as a way to teach children life lessons about competing in sports and working together as a team.

The purpose of wrestling is to win matches by pinning the opponent to the mat. The game can be played on mats or dirt floors with ropes tied around them so that wrestlers can not move freely during the match. The only way to win is to pin the opponent after 3 minutes of gameplay has passed.

What are the Most Important Muscles in Wrestling?

The most important muscles in wrestling are the ones that are used to move the opponent around the mat. These include the arm and shoulder, hip, leg, calf, and core muscles. These muscles work together to help the wrestler push themselves off of the ground as well as transfer power from one point of the body to another—like when pushing someone off balance so they fall back onto their head or shoulders.

Core Muscles

The core muscles are those that run from the pelvis to the midsection, including the abdominals, hip flexors, and gluteals. They’re often referred to as core stability muscles because they help support the rest of the body while moving around on the mat.

The core muscles are important for wrestling because they help with balance, power, athleticism, and injury prevention. Furthermore, they're also important for overall health and athletic performance.

These muscles are key to maintaining proper spinal alignment while wrestling, which improves balance and power in the hips, legs, and upper body. Core training is essential for wrestlers because it allows them to take advantage of their natural strengths without resorting to overuse injuries or excessive stress on other areas of their bodies.

Erector Spinae Muscles

The erector spinae muscles are located along the spine in the human body and are responsible for twisting and bending movements. These muscles help in providing structural strength to support the body during wrestling matches as well as preventing any injury that might arise due to excessive bending or twisting at joints.

These muscles are located along the spine and help in maintaining the posture of the body. This is an important aspect of wrestling, as the wrestler must keep his or her back straight while they move around on the mat. 

erector spinae muscles

In a match, a wrestler has to twist his torso and move his legs in various directions to win. The erector spinae is responsible for providing both structural and functional strength to do these actions. Furthermore, they help with power output and efficiency when performing movements like pushing someone away or taking them down on the mat.


In wrestling, the abdominals play a key role in supporting the trunk and hips. This also helps keep the individual balanced while the individual moves around on the mat, as well as prevents injury when the wrestler moves around during training or competition

Abdominal muscles help with many different things, but they are especially important for wrestlers as it allows the wrestler to lift and throw the opponent. In addition to helping the individual move around and get up from attacks, strong abdominal muscles also help with protection during grappling moves such as throws, chokes, and arm bars.

Hip, Leg, and Calf Muscles

The hip, legs, and calf muscles are an important part of any wrestler's training and development. They help with balance, flexibility, and mobility, which is especially important in wrestling because they need to be able to quickly move the hips and lower extremities around when the opponent tries to pin them down. 

Gluteal Muscles

The glutes are a muscle group that helps support the individual’s spine and pelvis, as well as move them. These muscles are also important for core stability, which is why it’s essential to strengthen the glutes when inspiring to be a better wrestler. 

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body and is responsible for extending the hip and leg. It helps the individual to lift objects off the floor and to extend the hips while walking or running. The gluteus medius is smaller but still plays an important role in the overall health of the individual. It works to keep the pelvis stable while in motion. 

gluteal muscles

A strong gluteus maximus is a key component of a strong, powerful body. This can help the individual to transfer force more effectively, and it can help the individual improve balance and stabilization in standing, which makes it easier to move and more difficult for the opponent to pin the individual down.


The hamstrings are a group of muscles in the back of the thigh that acts as an antagonist to the quadriceps. These muscles are responsible for bending the leg at the knee joint and extending the hips.

hamstring muscles

The hamstrings are useful during running, jumping, or performance of other activities. In wrestling, these muscles are used to flex the knee joint, pulling the thighs apart to create more space during takedowns and sweeps. The hamstrings also help stabilize the body when performing takedowns on the individual’s opponent.

Many wrestling techniques may cause harm to the wrestler’s knee joints. Strong hamstrings can help to prevent injuries within the knee joint. If the hamstring muscles are weak or tight, it can lead to pain in the knee joint or even ligament and tendon injuries.

Quadricep Muscles

The quadriceps muscles are among the largest muscle groups in a human’s body. These are the major muscles of the thigh or leg. They extend the knee joint and help straighten the leg of the individual after it is bent. The muscles also help to raise the knee during a squat, which is important for wrestlers.

quadricep muscles

Other than what was mentioned, the quadriceps also help stabilize the knee joint by helping to keep it straight when walking or running; it provides force for jumping and kicking, and it can help power the swing.

This helps to raise the knee towards the chest and move the thighs towards the opponent during the execution of wrestling techniques. This is considered one of the most important muscles in wrestling as it provides support for the wrestler's legs and hips. 

Arm and Shoulder Muscles

The arm and shoulder muscles are important parts of wrestling. They're used for throwing, lifting, holding an opponent, and blocking. The shoulders also help to stabilize the body during a match by helping keep the balance and protect the wrestler against injury.

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. There are four main muscles in this area: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles. Together they help lift the arm up or down with ease; however if any one of them malfunctions then it can affect the ability to do so safely.

rotator cuff

It is not uncommon for wrestlers to have their shoulders put in compromising positions due to the maneuvers done in wrestling. This is also the reason why shoulder injuries account for up to a quarter of injuries that occur in wrestling.

Shoulder stability is crucial to be able to endure the substantial amount of force that the shoulder goes through.


The trapezius is a large, triangular muscle that spans the neck and upper back. It also forms part of the shoulder blade and rotates the scapula (shoulder blade). This muscle works to stabilize the spine while in motion, but it can also help lift heavy weights or perform other movements with resistance.

The trapezius also helps hold shoulder blades together during movement, similar to how a bungee cord holds together two ends of the rope. These muscles connect directly with muscles in the shoulders, which tell them how much force they should use when doing certain actions like pulling someone up or away from them (or vice versa).

trapezius muscles

Wrestlers need strong trapezius muscles for agility and positioning, especially in high-crotch moves. This is when one wrestler might pull their opponent's arm into an awkward angle while trying to gain control over their opponent’s body weight by leaning forward onto their toes.

The trapezius muscle is an important part of any wrestler’s training regimen. This muscle helps wrestlers move quickly, turn their backs on opponents and throw them over their shoulders. The trapezius also plays a role in developing flexibility and stability in other areas of the body as well. 

Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii is located at the front of the upper arm. This muscle enables bending of the arm at the elbow joint and outward rotation of the forearm. The biceps brachii is made up of two heads which are the long head and the short head.

biceps anatomy

The biceps brachii has several tasks that it can do when working together with other muscles, especially the triceps brachii. This muscle helps with power movements of the arm. It works with the triceps brachii and the posterior deltoid to do wrestling techniques against the opponent.

Most wrestling techniques, especially grappling moves, require power from the biceps brachii to avoid the opponent from freeing themselves from the hold. An example technique would be the single arm choke which will require a powerful bending of the elbow to lock the choke.

Triceps Brachii

The triceps brachii is a muscle that is often used in wrestling. It is located at the posterior upper arm, and consists of three heads that work together to extend the forearm at the elbow joint, and also plays a part in shoulder extension.

triceps anatomy

The triceps contribute to upper body strength, especially when it comes to pins and takedowns. It is important to wrestling because it helps the wrestler get out of pins, headlocks, back rides, and ankle locks. Also, many wrestlers use their triceps to escape from submission holds like the ankle lock or a headlock by using the pushing force the triceps produce.

Deltoid Muscle

The deltoids are one of the main muscle groups used in wrestling. The deltoids have 3 distinct parts: the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid. These muscles have a wide range of movements, but their primary function is to help raise and lower the arms. 

deltoid heads

Wrestlers require strong deltoids for the sport. These individuals lift weights with their arms, grab opponents and throw them around the ring, and perform other moves that require lifting and dropping an arm. 

Having a strong deltoid is important for a person in wrestling as it allows them to create more force on the mat. By having a strong deltoid, the individual can push themselves off of the opponent and force the opponent to the ground. This is beneficial because it allows the wrestler to control the match and prevent the opponent from getting up easily. 

Final Thoughts

Wrestling is a sport that requires a lot of muscle power. It’s also a deceptively simple game, which makes it easy to get lost in the execution of every move, strategy, and technique. The most important muscles in wrestling are the ones that allow the wrestler to move around. The ones that give power, speed, and agility as well as strength and balance.


1. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). (2013). ACSM’s health-related physical fitness assessment manual, 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

2. Roemmich, J. N., & Frappier, J. P. (1993). Physiological determinants of wrestling success in high school athletes. Pediatric Exercise Science, 5, 134–144

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
Inspire US serves as an informational hub for people looking to start their fitness journey.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information being shared is for educational purposes only. You must consult with a medical professional before acting on any content on this website.
Copyright © Inspire US 2022