In any sport that requires competitors to make a certain weight, cutting weight becomes a skill in itself. From powerlifters to MMA fighters, weight cutting is a popular way to gain some advantage. We’re going to go over a couple of different methods to drop water weight in order to hit the scales bang on your target.
Assuming you’ve dieted down to close to your fighting weight, how do you drop those last few pounds? There are several techniques, which are often used together, which we’ll run through below.
Please note: Cutting excess weight can be dangerous and if done wrong, have serious health consequences. We advise you to keep weight cutting to a minimum and perform any cutting techniques under supervision when possible.
Technique 1: Don’t Do It
Okay this isn’t really a technique, but there’s an increasing number of fighters beginning to take this option, particularly in MMA. Whilst going into a fight with a weight advantage is always a bonus, making yourself massively dehydrated days, or in some cases hours, before you step in the ring can have an effect on your ability to perform at your best – not to mention the complications from strikes to the head being more dangerous when your brain is lacking water. It’s increasingly common for fighters to find their ‘natural’ weight, where they can perform at their best without having to cut weight, and stick to that weight class. Cowboy Cerrone is one of the more high profile fighters to take this route, claiming he ate 5 Guys Burgers multiple times heading before the 170lb weigh-in against Rick Story at UFC 202 – ending the fight with a beautiful combo.
Technique 2: Water Loading
Water loading is a good way to lose roughly 5 pounds (it’s going to vary a fair amount from person to person), and is a simple technique. Firstly it involves drinking loads of water, to get your body used to flushing it out, then rapidly restricting your intake and cutting salt from your diet. Your body will carry on removing water from your system, but as you aren’t replacing it you’ll lose water weight. An example water loading plan would look like this:
5 days out: 2 gallons of water.
4 days out: 2 gallons of water.
3 days out: 1 gallon of water, lower salt diet.
2 days out: 2 litres of water, lower salt diet.
1 day out: 1 litre of water, cut out all salt.
Weigh in day: Minimal sips of water pre weigh in, rehydrate and refuel post weigh in.
Technique 3: Sweat Suit
This is another way to drop 5lbs+, throw on a heavy sweat suit and start shadow boxing, cycling on the static bike or treadmill walking. You need to be careful, as it’s easy to expend too much energy, and break yourself down pre fight or worse, end up in need of medical attention. Weight cut with a buddy, both for morale and as someone to keep an eye on you. Most people do short intervals (up to five minutes) of low intensity work (just walking on the treadmill for example), alternated by the same time resting.
Technique 4: Sauna
This is more or less the same as the sweat suit technique, but can be repeated more often and let you loose more weight – as long as you can push yourself back into the sauna each time. Throw on a tracksuit and sit in the sauna, again with someone keeping an eye on you, and alternate 5 minutes inside with 5 minutes out. Keep a set of scales handy so you can always tell exactly how much more you need to go.
Technique 5: Emptying Out
This is the ‘last ditch’ section of weight cutting and comes with some pretty embarrassing risks if you get it wrong. You can lose several pounds by taking a natural laxative, but it’s going to have more of an effect on your performance (you’ll feel a bit ropey for sure!). Make sure you’re only using natural laxatives, anything less gentle is going to be affecting your health going into the ring, and use this as a last resort – no one really wants to risk having an accident during the competition do they?
One final piece of advice if you do decide to cut weight – do a trial run. Make sure you know how much weight you can lose, how you can recover and how it affects you. Leaving it till the week of the fight and finding out you can’t cut as much as you thought is going to be a quick way to miss your weight, and look completely unprofessional. If you liked this article, why not read up on the Worst Weight Misses In UFC History.