This post is dedicated to making weight for a competition, and the methods which we use to do so. Some of you are about to participate in your first (or second…) weightlifting meet ever, and are suddenly faced with the problem of “weight classes” and actually caring about the weight on the scale rather than the weight on the bar. I hope this post helps.
If you are a novice lifter and are not trying to make a Qualifying Total, but just trying to have fun at your first meet, then how you cut to make weight is a lot like how you use the Smith machine: YOU DON’T.
Seriously, if you are just embarking on your competitive weightlifting career, there is no need to place unnecessary stress on your experience by worrying about a weight class and doing silly things to make that cut. Just eat, drink, sleep as you normally would and when it comes time to step on the scale, step on the scale without care of what it says. You’re going to lift that day no matter what. Shoot, eat breakfast in the weigh-in line and make everyone jealous. I don’t care. You shouldn’t, either.
Okay, some of you are determined. Fine, I’ve seen (and done) a lot of crazy things in order to make a certain weight class, and I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes. Let’s talk a little about different ways to make weight. GOOD ways.
Powerlifting meets allow you to weigh in the night before you lift, which means you have a much longer period to recover from whatever it was you did to drastically cut. I’ll let you do whatever you think you need to do for that, and just sleep happy knowing that after you will go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and load up your plates again and again and chase it all down with Pedialyte and maybe a beer, to boot.
Weigh-ins for Olympic weightlifting meets, however, begin 2 hours before the athlete’s scheduled session. There are 7 different weightclasses for females (-48kg, -53kg, -58kg, -63kg, -69kg, -75kg, and 75kg+) and 8 for men (-56kg, -62kg, -69kg, -77kg, -85kg, -94kg, -105kg, and 105kg+). I compete as a 69kg, so I must weigh anywhere between 63.01 and 69.00kg in order to make weight. I regularly weigh around 71kg, and I’ve found I can happily walk around at this weight and still easily make weight without being calorically deficit prior to competing.
I must preface the following with the obvious fact that I’m female. As such, cutting weight is more difficult than for my male counterparts. The easiest and least technical explanation is that women retain more water and have a higher body fat percentage than men. We can still cut weight for a meet, but don’t expect to cut as much (or as easily) as a guy. **I would even recommend that no one should expect to cut more than 5% overall body weight.** I have still managed to cut 6lbs in a week to make weight (just under 4%). Let’s talk about how.
When I first competed, I had to cut all of 1.2kg in order to make weight so I could hit a necessary Qualifying Total for University Nationals. I ate a strict Paleo diet and did not drink alcohol, and the week prior to the meet I ate a cup of 2% Greek yogurt with cinnamon for breakfast, and plain lettuce and 4oz baked chicken for lunch and dinner, sometimes with some nuts. That was it. We can easily estimate I ate no more than 1000cal/day that week, and had little nutritional value intake. I trained as normal, but I felt weak and barely made weight. In fact, I weighed in at 69.2kg, and had the rest of the weigh-in hour to figure out a way to cut that last .2kg. I ended up donning sweats and jumping rope for 15 minutes while spitting constantly into a cup. 15 minutes later, I weighed in (wearing only my skivvies) at 69.0kg. I also made my Qualifying Total. I was hungry enough to eat the barbell itself, though.
Cutting food in order to make weight is not something I’d recommend to anyone. I don’t feel I need to even give reasons; they should be obvious. Eventually I learned the trick many wrestlers know about water weight manipulation, and this is now my preferred and recommended method for cutting weight before a meet. (Speaking of water, I hope you’re all drinking enough water every day!)
The easiest and quickest way to lose water weight is to sit in a sauna (10 minutes in, 5 minutes out, repeat as necessary). Men can lost a significant amount of weight this way, but girls might only find they’ve sweated out close to 2lbs at most after 30 minutes in. For women, the sauna is inefficient and should be a last minute resort for those extra ounces. If you’re doing this to cut weight, then it should be understood that you must go without imbibing or even showering after the sauna until you have successfully made weight. Also, your heart rate will be dramatically elevated which makes sleeping difficult.
The other way to manipulate water, and the way that I will recommend, is drinking lots of water, then peeing it (and excess water) out.
Instead of going into detail here, just click on this link and follow along. It works for both men and women very well, and the best part is that you get to still eat like normal (well, don’t binge on crap, but eat like you would when you’re being good). If you’re still about .2-.5kg over before weigh-in, spitting a total of 8-12oz can do the trick (I chew dessert-flavored gum to get the saliva going). Yes, I drink Pedialyte after weigh-in, and it is fantastic. …and coffee. And food.
Okay, I will end this with one final reminder that the majority of you really have no need to worry about your weight class. Just eat to perform and get out there and have fun!
**Warning: sever dehydration can be harmful and should not be undertaken lightly**