It’s referred to as the utmost difficult part of combative sport. The part that no competitor’s look forward to, but all have to face. Making weight for an upcoming fight has become a sport within itself. If you fail to do so, your participation in the fight is jeopardised. To an outsider, that kind of pressure may seem like enough to cause the competitor to sweat out enough water retention to make weight. However, there are tried and tested techniques, tactics and disciplines utilised by pro and amateur combative athletes to ensure the weight is properly shed.
Underdog does not condone or recommend any of the following combative weight loss techniques. There are dangerous side effects associated with each method, including severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, muscle weakness, decreased energy supplies, and long term organ damage. These unsustainable methods are utilised to cut weight quickly, and do not aid fat loss. This article was written to give reader’s an insight into a fighter’s journey to competition day, which begins with preparation for the weigh in. Always consult a physician prior to attempting to cut a significant amount of weight.
As the human body is made up of approximately 70% water, the easiest way to cut weight is to shed part of the body’s natural water retention. Athletes utilising the water loading method must begin prepping their body to water load a week prior to weigh in, by consuming 7.5 liters of water each day. The water loading method encourages athletes to consume a small increase in sodium, which triggers bodily hormones to promote higher amounts of urine excretion. As the weigh in approaches 2 days away, athletes halve their fluid intake to 3.7 liters a day. Athletes must also adhere to a strict decrease in sodium intake. 24 hours before the fight, the athlete halts fluid and sodium intake altogether. If done correctly, water loading allows athletes to lose up to a stone in one week prior to weigh in.
The tried and tested use of dieting to cut weight is present in many fighter’s pre-fight preparation. Although cutting out salt is important to reduce water retention, carbohydrates are equally as responsible for bringing water into the body to replace glycogen stores in muscles. One gram of carbohydrate equates to pulling 2.7 grams of water into the body. To combat this, fighters may cut their carbohydrate intake to less than 50g per day. However, as the body relies on glucose for energy, fighter’s bodies will be left feeling weak and exhausted.
Cardio in Saunas
As the clock runs down and competitors still have a few kilograms to shed, it’s time to sweat it all out. Tactics such as performing cardiovascular exercises in saunas and jogging with plastic bin bags wrapped tightly to their bodies are utilised to remove water retention from their bodies through beads of sweat. The key, however, is to perform minimal activity, as using too much energy this close to the fight is detrimental to performance capabilities. Skipping, body weight exercises, and light pad work are performed by fighters immediately prior to weigh in to desperately sweat out what they can. Some choose to sit in steaming hot bath water with everything but their nose submerged, as the hot, humid environment promotes perspiration.
Despite the fact that competitive fighters loath their biggest opponent – the scale, their will to put themselves through various strategies to cut weight demonstrates their passion and commitment to their sport. Combative athletes do not limit their challenges, but rather challenge their limits.