Making the weight for fighters

By Johnny Kennedy



Dropping weight before a fight to get into a different weight class is a subject that has being debated for many years now?


Having being involved in the martial arts for over 27 years and a competitor for the last 20 I have personally tried many different approaches to this topic and am happy to share what I have learnt.

When it comes to cutting weigh it takes knowledge, skill and practice. I have seen many fighters have terrible side effects by cutting too much weight, too fast, by dehydrating incorrectly, and not eating properly before and after their weigh in.

Why do fighters cut weight?

The main reason I have personally come across for the dieting and dehydrating is to get into a lighter weight division. In most fighting events the weigh in is the day before which gives fighters plenty of time to re-hydrate and eat the necessary foods to get back into peak performance. The advantages of this are being potentially stronger than your opponent and your can also get some height benefits depending on your build. When I was competing in International competitions being short with a solid build I would have to cut weight otherwise my opposition would be on average 6 8 inches taller than me.

Cutting weight the right way!

The best way to cut weight is gradually by following a good training and diet program building up towards the fight. I could spend allot of time talking about this topic but it is easier to give you some basics which you can then test.

Ways to lose weight the slow way: Fluid, Nutrition, Exercise


Every time I get back into competition and have to lose a few kgs I always find it a struggle. The key is to stay focused, put your goals to paper with what you want to achieve and stick to it. The first few weeks are always hard as your body goes into detox and craves that junk food we all like to eat, but after that its amazing how good you feel when you are giving you body the right food and start living a healthier lifestyle.


·        Drink lots of water before meals, during the day carry a drink bottle, a big mistake people make is they confuse hunger with thirst. I drink around 2 - 4 litres a day, depending on training intensities.

·        Combine your water intake with some form of sports drink, eg Powerade or Gatorade to keep electrolytes levels up.

·        Take supplements to help with hard training session, recovery and muscle building. I personally use Protein power for muscle recovery, pure carbohydrate powder for energy, spirulina and a sports-multi for the necessary vitamins and minerals the body needs.

·        Eat regular meals 5 - 6 per day, small quantities

·        If your body craves carbohydrates have these before 3pm

·        Try to eat foods high in protein, low in fat

·        Avoid at all costs fried foods high in fat

·        Avoid fizzy drinks cola etc..

·        Stay clear of sweets lollies, cakes, biscuits

·        Treat yourself one day a week mine is Friday Fish & Chip Day this is when I can have a coke and some fried food. There are times when Friday comes and I dont feel like F&Cs then thats fine have it the following week.

·        Try to train twice a day, 6 days a week my training program covers a wide spectrum of different things which I will include in another article.

·        Running regularly at least 3 times a week will help keep the weight down. I only run between 3 6km max.

·        Massage treat your body with a good massage at least once a fortnight.


Ways to lose weight the fast way:


This next section we will talk about cutting weight the fast way. I have done this in the past but if done incorrectly will result in fatigue and poor performance. If you are serious about weight cutting in the final week it is best to lose no more than 4 5kg (9 11 pounds).


·        Fluid loss One of the fastest ways to lose weight is to either cut or heavily reduce fluid intake. The body is made up of around 60% fluid and fighters can easily lose 2 3kg in a 24 hour period. This is best done the day before weigh in. Building up towards your fluid reduction program it is best to drink large quantities (4 5 litres day) of water 5 days out to trigger hormones that will make you urinate more than usual. This will make the fluid cutting 24 hours before weigh in more effective.

·        Training The next best way to loss weight is by training. The body natural sweats when you are doing exercise and if you need to lose a kg or so jumping rope, going for a run with a rubbish bag on, cardio will help with the weight cutting. Be careful not to over do it as you will lose strength and energy for the fight.

·        Sauna/hot bath - A sauna or hot bath or shower is another effective way to lose fluid. A dry sauna is the best of the three for weight loss and this loss should be closely monitored. Spending time in the sauna or hot showers should be at small 15-30 minute intervals to check weight loss. It is also a good ideal to have a set of accurate scales with you to check your progress.

·        Food When cutting weight it is important to make sure that your blood sugar levels are normal during this process or you are going to feel terrible and have no energy. Protein bars and small quantities of fresh fish and chicken (100grams) are good foods to take.

·        Bowel emptying This is another excellent way to lose 1 2kg the day before weigh in. Your bowels, or stomach and intestines, are up to 27 feet long. Food that has been ingested over the last 24 hours is all still contained along this set of tubes. This material does not help performance and is actually waste. By clearing out the bowels, you can lose another kilo without having to do anything. The secret is in the method. Two days before the weigh in, you will already be eating less if you have to lose a few kilos. The day before the weigh in, you should not be eating much at all. That material that is still in the gut from the day before, however, must be cleared. How we choose to do this is with a very gentle, all natural laxative. There are much more powerful drugs out there that do this, but you should not be using them. They can hurt your performance and leave you feeling flat. By taking the gentle, natural laxative before you go to bed the night before, you should wake and clear your bowels completely. Remember that you would only do this if you think you are not going to make the weight.

·        Diuretics - There are herbal and drug diuretics that can help you to lose fluids up to or over 5 kilos. Using diuretics is more dangerous than the others methods, and can lead to electrolyte imbalances and a loss in performance. An all natural, gentle diuretic is best and should be used the day before the weigh in, so not to have problems during the fight.

  After weigh in:

Great you made the weight now this is the most important part. Most fighters after weigh in hydrate and eat food incorrectly. The first thing to do is to get the fluid back into your body and start drinking water immediately and continue to do so until your urine is clear. Dont take large quantities but have a drink bottle with you and keep sipping away at regular intervals. I even have a water bottle by my bedside and take water in during the night. When it comes to eating dont make the mistake and eat down lots of food. You will feel bloated and get sick. Take small amounts every 30 minutes until your stomach adjusts and focus on high carbohydrate foods to get energy stores back into your body.

This is a basic guide and results vary from person to person. Over my years of competition I found these methods worked well for me but I can not guarantee results for everyone. The best advice I can give you is to test first and see how your body feels through the different methods. Goodluck!

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