Hey all, I'm 13, going into eighth grade next year, and I've been wrestling for about six years now. For my first five years, I only wrestled two to three times a week, having practices Mondays and Thursdays and most weeks I'd wrestle open tournaments as well. This latest school year, however, I was old enough to wrestle for my school's team. Keep in mind that I wrestled for the varsity high school team (our school is private/doesn't have a JV since we don't have a lot of people try out). I finished up the season alright, going 21-7 and placing 5th in the HS States.

Now that you know my life, here comes my problem. I wrestled 103 this season, and about five of my matches were me being bumped up to the 112 weight class and wrestling guys who were bigger and stronger than me. Four of these five matches, I ended up being out-muscled and just couldn't control the ties, or hand-fight very well. I won't flatter myself by saying that the only reason I lost was because they were stronger, but it was definitely a contributing factor.

Next season, my weight class will likely be 112 for the state tournament, but I'll probably float somewhere between 112 and 119 since we only have about nine guys on our team. At the moment, I weigh in around 119, but I won't need to cut like crazy to get down to 112 as I'm just going to slowly ease my body fat percentage down by making my diet healthier and working out more, and I'll probably naturally end up around 114.

So basically, it's late July now and I'm hoping to gain strength before the season comes around. My dad (who definitely knows his stuff as far as wrestling and lifting go) has been helping me with this. However, the workout he shows me mainly uses weight machines and doesn't incorporate many free-weight or body-weight exercises. I have heard that free-weight exercises using kettlebells and dumbbells are good for building explosive strength, and that body-weight exercises are good for developing your entire body. I've also heard that both of these develop strength while, using the right exercise, do not make you heavier.

It's not that I don't trust my dad, of course, but I was just wondering if I could get your opinion on what types of workouts I should be doing, and maybe suggest a routine? Thanks.

Oh, and also, if any of you could suggest a way to effectively drill my moves at home, where I don't have a mat, partner, or dummy to drill on, that would be great. I've tried shadow drilling, but it doesn't seem to help me improve as much as drilling on something with resistance. Are dummies a worthwhile investment, you think? I'd really like to improve my technique and work on my setups before the season begins, and I just don't know if only being able to get on the mat twice a week for an hour and a half is going to get me where I need to be to become a state champion. I would buy one of those ADAM Wrestling Machines, but man, those things just cost $$$ that I don't have.

Thanks again.