The Suplex: A How-To Guide for Back Mobility

Che Chengsupanimit

Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, MMA, Wrestling

The Suplex


The suplex is wrestling's equivalent to the home run. It is equal parts crowd pleaser and high point scorer. We'll first start with how to execute the throw and how to train to reach the mobility necessary to execute the coolest move in wrestling.



Execution of the Suplex

In order to launch your opponent in style, you should be standing behind your opponent. Since virtually no opponent is going to let you get completely behind them without resistance, this will require that you get behind your opponent by setting up a duck-under or an arm drag. Both moves give you the possibility of getting behind your opponent, and there are several variations as to how to execute either move.


Now, the fun part—the suplex requires that you do four things in quick succession:


  1. Lock your hands around your opponent. Ideally, your hands should be locked around their waist or stomach.
  2. Plant your feet as close to your opponent at possible. This makes it easier to launch your opponent. Starting out, try practicing it with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  3. Push your hips in and fully arch your back. Most of the strength is generated from the legs and hips, so don't be shy with this step. Performing this step halfway actually increases the likelihood of hurting yourself, as you can fall backwards with your opponent on top of you.
  4. Without breaking your grip, turn your hips to either the right or the left and get behind your opponent to maintain control.


These steps, of course, are easier said than done.


Prep Work: Back Mobility

If you can do a standard bridge with your back arched and hands planted on the mat, then you are physically capable of performing a suplex. If this is not the case, don't worry. You can build up the mobility over time, but you'll have to be patient.




Shoulder bridges are the easiest starting point. Here, you're looking to dig your feet in and push your hips forward as far as possible. You can do this for reps or hold the shoulder bridge for a certain amount of time just as you would for a plank.



Tables help you open your chest enough so that your upper back is mobile enough to get into bridge position. This is generally done more as an isometric hold position than for repetitions.



Bridge walks on a wall are the next step. Start with your back against the wall, and take one or two paces forward. Then, arch backwards as if you were doing a suplex and walk down the wall with your hands. These are difficult to do at first, and fear can set in for some people. Wall bridge walks get your mind used to arching backwards, and people occasionally have mental blocks in this step. Eventually, you will be able to do this without the wall, and that's when you know your body is ready for the suplex.



Suplex Safety Tips

Once your body is ready and you can execute the suplex subconsciously in a safe environment, you are finally ready to score some style points on the mat. The following tips that will help you be able to feel good in your movements for years to come.


  1. Tilt to one shoulder as you arch for an easier transition. To make this easier, visualize throwing your opponent over one shoulder as opposed to completely backwards.
  2. Your partner is safest if he tucks his head in. This minimizes the risk of neck injury in the suplex. Ideally, your partner should land on his shoulder blades and upper back region.
  3. Land on something soft like a wrestling mat. The suplex is a high impact move and should be treated as such.
  4. If you have a history of back problems, be very careful. Consult a physician before you try anything.
  5. Prep work may be required to arch your back enough to perform a proper suplex. This takes us to the next major component, the physical prep work.
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