Today’s podcast features the newly crowned Universal Champion of the WWE, Seth Rollins. I spoke to Seth, his good friend and fellow WWE wrestler Cesaro, and his coach Josh Gallegos in Brooklyn last week as they prepared for Wrestlemania 35.
We chat about the “WHOOP gang” they’ve formed among WWE wrestlers, including how they compete for the best data each day, the discoveries they’ve made from wearing it, and the ways it helps them adapt their training and be better recovered.
Additionally, we discuss the natural similarities between wrestling and CrossFit, things they do to improve their HRV, and how the strain of a match compares to a hard workout.
There’s some great behind-the-scenes stuff here too on what pro wrestling is really like, including an absurd travel schedule, how the storytelling can adapt and change from match to match, and why being in the ring is similar to dancing the tango.
Even if you’re not a fan or wrestling, I think you’ll find a lot to learn from these amazing athletes.
4:37 - A Life of Travel. “We’re on the road all year, there’s no offseason. We travel 250 days a year roughly. I probably wrestled close to 170 matches last year. … That’s the gig.” Seth describes what a typical week is like.
7:21 - The WHOOP Gang. Josh explains how they all got on WHOOP. “It just kind of grew like wildfire.”
8:53 - CrossFit and Wrestling. “I’ve been doing CrossFit for about 9 years. For me the paradigm was better, the training style was better.” Seth details how Josh got him into CrossFit and started programming for him, and how he and Cesaro became “training buddies.”
11:25 - Comparing Data. “Every day it’s a competition between every possible aspect that WHOOP tracks, from strain, to HRV, to resting heart rate, to sleep, to sleep performance, to number of hours of sleep, everything you can measure.” Before they got on a WHOOP team together, “We used to be in a text group. Every morning we’d wake up to screenshots of data,” Cesaro says.
12:07 - Who’s in the Gang? Josh says their WHOOP team consists of “Cesaro, Seth, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Shaemus and some people from my gym as well. The WWE group were the originators of the WHOOP gang.” Check out their “Deadboys Do WHOOP” workout.
12:51 - Discoveries from Using WHOOP. “My HRV is through the roof baby!” Seth exclaims. He’s also got a resting heart rate of only 37. Cesaro talks about sleep, “I know I can function on 6 hours of sleep … my WHOOP says I should really get 7.5 hours.”
15:11 - What Increases HRV? “I’m convinced the CBD helps my HRV. I find that the powder is the best,” Seth says. “I feel much more rested when I wake up, and now I’ve got a little data to back it up with WHOOP.” Cesaro adds “I’ve found not eating as close to bedtime helps.”
17:38 - Handling Travel, particularly in long car rides. They’re all a fan of the Romwod app for stretching.
19:50 - Workouts for Low Recovery. “They’ll say how can we modify today’s workout? … It really all depends on them and how they’re feeling,” Josh explains.
20:37 - Recovery Tools. “Thanks to WHOOP we have science behind that [adjusting workouts], it helps to have that data,” Cesaro says. “I notice I feel better when I warm up more before a workout,” Seth adds. “If my recovery is crap and the WHOOP is telling me that I need to take it easy, maybe a 20-minute WOD is not the ticket today.”
24:43 - Diet/Nutrition. “I find consistency is important,” Seth says. Cesaro talks about how Shaemus starting bringing meals on the road in a big Yeti cooler, “Six months later we were all doing it.” He’s also a big fan of eating cereal in a protein shake.
30:10 - Learning How to Not Get Hurt while wrestling, and how do they practice? “When you first train in wrestling they teach you how to fall, they teach you the holds, the basics,” Cesaro explains. “You’re in the ring performing in front of people 5 times a week, which is the best way to learn. That’s when you try new stuff, that’s where you perfect your timing.” On the non-televised events, they talk about what they want to try ahead of time with their opponents.
31:57 - The Storylines. “The matches are part of telling a story, there are a lot of layers,” Seth says. “But the cool thing about what we do is that it’s art, so there are many different ways to tell the same story.”
33:33 - Choreographed? “It’s like a dance,” Cesaro says. “If you dance the tango, and you see somebody across the room and you both know the tango it’ll be good. But if you meet somebody you have really good chemistry with, it’ll be one hell of a tango. It’s the same with wrestling.” Like with dancing, they have to lead inexperienced people, Seth adds. “You learn over time how to simplify things for someone inexperienced so you don’t put yourself in danger.”
36:00 - Worst Injury? “I blew my knee out pretty hard a few years back.” Seth tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in the ring. “He also finished the match and walked through the airport and into the hotel,” Cesaro points out.
37:11 - Competing Hurt? This affects how the matches play out, and they work together with their opponent in the ring. “If I know his elbow is hurt, I’ll make sure nothing touches his elbow,” Cesaro says. “If you do it right, nobody will ever notice.”
40:35 - WHOOP Strain of Wrestling. WHOOP detects them getting amped up prior to matches. “It’s pretty much always higher than a workout,” Cesaro says about his strain while in the ring. “When you look back at activity in a workout you can see where the rest periods were,” Seth adds. “The same thing applies in a match. You can see what parts of the match things were.”
42:17 - What Causes the Most Strain while performing? “Fighting. Just throwing hands, what we would call a pull apart,” Seth explains. “Yelling and screaming and punching and kicking, you heart is just going a million miles an hour.”
42:50 - Tools for Unwinding after a match. “For me stretching really helps,” Cesaro says. “It just winds me down, my body kind of knows, ‘OK we’re stretching now, it’s time to go to sleep.’”
44:55 - Sleep Tips. “Cold and dark,” they all agree.
46:17 - Advice for Success. “You just have to always show up and do the work.” Seth is big on patience and consistency. “Hard-earned success generally does not happen overnight, it’s a long-term investment in yourself.” Cesaro agrees, “I think that goes for any job, any industry, anything. It doesn’t happen overnight. … Don’t be afraid to fail, that’s how you learn.” Josh recommends taking chances, “starting Deadboys Fitness, that all came from a chance of me saying ‘Hey man, you should come check out my gym.’”
51:58 - Worst WHOOP Recovery? Josh: “I think it was 7%. Vegas.” Seth: “I’ve been somewhere in the teens.” Cesaro: “I think mine was 12% … It didn’t get better for like 3 days.”