A weight cut done the right way can have you feeling 100% when it’s competition time. Done the wrong way and your performance will suffer, likely wasting months of prep time and training for the competition. An 8-10% cut in bodyweight is, in my opinion, the max you should attempt and this is still totally dependent on the individual. There are a few methods I have used for cutting weight. The old school way, which I did for years, was with a sauna/steam room. A different method that I have started apply in the last 2 years is using Epsom salt baths. I will cover both here.
First things first…the entire weight cut using either method should be done in 24 hours, 36 at the very most. The longer you put stress on your body the more likely it will be that performance suffers. What this means is not cutting carbs a week out or starting to try and cut back on water a few days out. And yes there is plenty of science to back this up. The body is very good at trying to maintain homeostasis so the longer you put certain stressors on your body the more it will begin to fight the process. One of the many ways the body does this during a water cut, or any time of dehydration, is by releasing antidiuretic hormone (also known as vasopressin). ADH causes the body to produce less urine along with other mechanisms of holding onto the body’s water. The longer you are depleted and dehydrated the more ADH is released and allowed to act. As far as food is concerned, the longer you are glycogen depleted and running at a high caloric deficit, the bigger the hit your energy takes and the harder it becomes to recover after weigh in. Get the weight down quick, get it back up quick.
Prep For The Cut (both methods)
Make sure you are well hydrated daily at least a week out from the weight cut. This doesn’t mean “water loading” with 2-3 gallons of water per day. The general rule I use for water intake is you should be using the bathroom approximately every 2 hours. Urine should be light colored but not completely clear. Drink as much as you need to achieve this. Nothing at all changes until 24-36 hours out depending on how big the cut is going to be. Close to 8-10% for a goal weight cut and you will be closer to the 36 hour mark. Nothing changes here besides cutting your normal food intake in half and dropping sodium intake as low as possible. ***Water intake does not stop until 24 hours out no matter how much you need to cut***
At 24 hours:
No food at all
No water or fluid intake
Timing the cut is very important. You should be on the scale every hour or so (obviously not while sleeping). This is important because you want to walk your weight down as gradually as you can over the 24 hours. The reason for this is you don’t want to be at weigh-in weight longer than about 4 hours before weigh in. This is the place where your body is under the most stress so you want to limit your time there as best you can.
Sauna/Steam Room Method
This one is pretty simple. You will spend 30-45minutes at a time in the sauna with at least 15 min breaks in between. In the beginning the sweat will come easily and as you get closer to the goal weight it will slow down. The sauna can be used for the whole cut but if access to a steam room is available it will come in handy later on. For the sauna you should start out in shorts and a tshirt. As the sweat takes longer to start after each session you start to put more clothing on. All the way to the point of a sauna suit with sweats over it. The steam room is done is sweats/sauna suit the whole time. Start in the sauna, finish in the steam room as the cut gets harder. This is the more miserable method to use for cutting weight. That brings me to the other more preferred method.
Epsom Salt + Alboline (Bath)
First check your weight-
Fill a bath with water. Hot but not hot enough to burn you. Add about 5 lbs of Epsom salt to the water. Cover your torso and legs in alboline and get in. The first session I would recommend 10-15 in the bath. Get out of the bath, towel off, and wrap yourself up in sweats. Get under a heavy blanket and stay there for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes towel off and get on the scale. See what the loss was after the time you used in the bath. Use this as a gauge to see the speed the water pulls using this method. This will help you with timing your cut. This method is much less miserable because most of the time is spent just hanging out. You will only need a few baths for a huge cut in weight. The rest of the time is spent relaxing between baths.
Something people really screw up here is running to food before getting totally hydrated. Get the fluids back in and absorbed first, then start eating. My rule is 80% of the total weight cut in fluid before you eat any whole food. This means if you cut 10lbs you will have roughly one gallon (8lbs) of fluid before you start eating. Pedialyte or watered down Gatorade is great for this. I use a 50/50 mix Gatorade/water. Once you get the fluid in you will begin the carb load. During this time your protein intake should be pretty low. This will allow for faster digestion and absorption of the carb foods. Pasta, white rice, white potatoes, fruit etc. Do not run out and start slamming down burgers and fast food. The junk foods will slow digestion and screw up your recovery/carb load.
**Cutting weight can be very dangerous even when done correctly. Do not do it alone. Be very careful and listen to your body. Have someone there to check on you frequently and make sure you are feeling ok. NEVER USE ANY TYPE OF PHARMACEUTICAL DRUGS OR DIURETICS FOR YOUR CUT**
If you have questions you can email me at Savage_athletics@hotmail.com