How To Cut Weight For Wrestling!
By Steve Preston
Let’s take a look at the typical year for a wrestler. During the off-season, the wrestler is in the gym lifting weights. The workouts are intense. The wrestler eats normally, sustaining muscle, and adding strength to their body. The wrestler might compete occasionally in a tournament or go to a wrestling camp. The wrestler is learning more moves, and skills, along with improved strength. All is good. Things look great for the upcoming season!
Then the season arrives. The wrestler decides to cut 15-20 lbs. to move to a lower weight class, where they will be big, strong, and ready for any competition. The wrestler eats very little, runs a lot (even with plastic suits on), spits, uses saunas, etc. to make weight. The wrestler makes weight. The wrestler has a good season, making weight each week, and binging after each match.
BUT THE WRESTLER COMES UP SHORT OF THEIR POTENTIAL!
The wrestler doesn’t understand. He practices hard, really hard! He dropped two weight classes, and makes weight each week. He drills after practice, and works as hard or harder than anyone else in the mat room. He doesn’t strength train during the season because he practices so much, and doesn’t have the time or energy to work out. Besides, all that hard work in the weight room during the off-season has made him really strong!
Or did it?
If you are cutting weight for wrestling, and want to be the BEST your potential will allow, make sure you:
1. Keep Up Your Strength Training
During the off-season you want to work to gain as much strength as possible. I recommend training 3 times each week in the weight room, working the muscles that are used for wrestling. Be consistent and document your progress. Always strive to add a little more weight or repetitions. During the wrestling season, YOU HAVE TO STRENGTH TRAIN! You will not keep strength gained during the off-season if you neglect training during the season. If you are cutting weight, it is even more important to keep up your strength training. If you are cutting weight, practicing, and wrestling in dual meets and tournaments, your body is using its own muscle for food. You can prevent some of this by getting in a full body strength training workout every 4-5 days.
2. Eat More Frequently
Don’t starve your body to make weight! If you starve your body, you are slowing your metabolism down. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. A calorie is a unit of energy. By starving, you will cause a rebound effect, and have even more trouble making weight next season. The answer lies in trying to lose fat, not muscle and water. You do this by eating more frequently. Four smaller meals each day will allow you to lose body fat while sparing muscle, give you energy to wrestle hard, and be strong the entire match.
3. Give Your Body The Correct Amount of Calories
To find out how many calories your body needs to keep up muscle while cutting weight, take your current body weight, and multiply times 13. This is the minimum number of calories you need to consume each day.
4. Eat a 40-30-30 Ratio
Now that you know how many calories you need to cut weight and still keep your muscle and strength that you’ve built up, you need to eat the proper ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fats. 40% of your calories should come from lean proteins (egg whites, turkey, lean beef, whey protein powder, skinless chicken). 30% of your daily calories should come from complex carbohydrates (multi grain bread, baked potato, sweet potato, brown rice, oatmeal), and 30% of your calories should come from unsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts). Usually you don’t have to figure in the fats other than a tiny bit of oil on a salad, because the meats that you consume will have a small percentage of fat that will suffice for the day.
5. Don’t Jog excessively If Your Goal Is To Make Weight
Nothing is more grueling than a tough high school or college wrestling practice. You shouldn’t get in the habit of jogging for miles, and miles each week in order to lose weight. First of all, it will not give you the endurance for wrestling like good old-fashioned live wrestling in practice will. If you try to lose weight by jogging, you will start eating the muscle off of your body. Aerobic activity is NOT an efficient means of losing fat. A controlled meal plan is the answer.
6. Don’t Dehydrate
In order to wrestle at your best, and have your body working efficiently, you need to have all of the body systems working optimally. Each of your body systems requires water. If you have to lose a couple of pounds to make weight after you have followed the above tips, then you will restrict your water intake. Restricting water intake is not the same as not drinking water at all though. You still need to give yourself 3-4 ounces of water every 3 hours on days that you are trying to make weight. Remember, this is to keep up your strength. You need to plan well in order to do this right. Don’t weight until two days before, and get drastic in your weight loss system.
Steve Preston is a nationally-recognized strength and conditioning coach for wrestlers. He is the owner of Wrestling Performance, a members-only website and forum for wrestlers, coaches, and parents who want strength, conditioning, and nutrition information for improved mat performance. Check it out at http://www.wrestlingperformance.com