What You Need to Know About Weight Cutting
If you know anything about contact sports, you probably know how important it is to be a very specific weight in the days leading up to the fight. I don't care if you're an MMA fighter, in freestyle wrestling, entering a Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament, or competing in Muay Thai kickboxing, every competitive fighting sport has a weight class. And if you want to fight a certain opponent or be the champion in a certain class, you need to make weight.
Enter the world of weight cutting, salt baths, and mass amounts of sweat. Gone are the days of UFC 1, back when a 90-pound blackbelt in karate could take on a 230-pound street brawler. There are rules now and fighters need to abide by those rules, it’s how they switch from being the welterweight champ to the middleweight champ in a matter of two fights.
How Does Weight Cutting Work?
Our bodies are over half water, roughly 60 percent to be exact. It makes sense then that in order to drastically cut your total weight, you need to shed as much water as possible. How does water naturally leave your body? Well, through urine and sweat. This is why when you are dehydrated, you stop sweating and stop peeing. If you are sweating, you know you're hydrated and you know your body is full of water. You would be astounded by how much water can exit the human body in a single day.
And this is what cutting weight is all about. Say you weigh 175 pounds at peak physical condition, meaning that 175 for you is a strong and healthy weight to fight at. But you want to fight Steve, and Steve weighs 154 pounds at his heaviest. You need to drop 19 pounds to enter Steve’s weight class, then add the 19 pounds back on in just 24 hours to be healthy for the fight.
This is weight cutting. It is all about the water weight. It is all about fighting at peak physical condition in a different weight class, allowing you to perform better.
Get This Water Out of Me!
To cut weight, you need to get rid of the water in your body. There are safe ways to do this and there are dangerous ways to do this. Let me tell you the most dangerous and controversial way to lose weight, and then I will explain a healthier alternative.
You may have heard of the salt and alcohol bath. This is argued to be the most dangerous way a person can lose weight. It basically works like a giant dehydration pod. You fill a tub with hot water, Epsom salt, and rubbing alcohol. The combination causes severe dehydration. It essentially sucks the water through your skin, allowing you to lose massive amounts of weight within an hour or so.
This method is brutal for your body. It literally dehydrates you in minutes. It's like trapping yourself in a salty sauna or sitting in a hot tub of salt water with the tarp fastened over your head. Needless to say, many people are trying to abolish this savage method of weight cutting.
A Better Alternative
While the salt bath probably won't kill you, and most fighters recover their strength and weight in full before the fight starts, there are still better ways to cut weight, plus soaking in salt can drain the fluid from your joints, which increases the chance of injury. You still need to get rid of the water, but you can do it in a more sensible and meticulous way.
A lot of people who need to cut weight are starting to use a gradual method. This uses a little bit of science and a lot of organized patience. You want to start five days before your weigh-in. Start by guzzling a lot of water on days five and four (2 gallons each day). Eat a lot of sodium and drink a lot of water, which will trick your body into shedding more and retaining less.
Then, three days prior you can drink normal levels of water, about one gallon throughout the day. On day two, cut yourself down a lot. Only drink 2 litres of water through the day. You may feel a little weak and a lot tired, but you’ll survive. You want to stay relaxed, don’t intake too much carbs or sodium, and start sweating a lot. I’m talking about the sauna, a hot shower – just keep the sweat coming.
Day 2 is where it gets serious. You want to cut your water intake again, only drinking about a liter of water throughout the day. Now you are definitely going to feel fatigued, and so you don't want to do anything too strenuous.
When you go to the sauna this time, it will pay to take another person with you. You want to stay inside the sauna for between 15 and 20 minutes, and you want to do it twice. There is a chance that you could pass out, which is why you need to bring a spotter.
On the date of the weigh-in, you don't want to drink any water. You should eat a very small meal or snack before you get on the scales, take another trip to the sauna if you need to, and try to keep your strength up. All of this water fasting is going to have you tired. However, all of your dedication should have paid off and you should be at your targeted weight. And you did it safely.
After the Weigh-In
It's time to get your weight back. You want to start drinking water right away, but don't drink too much too fast. Try drinking about 50 ounces an hour with some quality meals. Continue doing this until you are back at optimum weight. It will not take very long to get all that water back in your body where it should be. By the next day when you go to fight, you will feel strong and powerful and confident.