One of the worst aspects of preparing for a powerlifting meet is cutting to make a specific weight class. It’s annoying and sometimes difficult depending on a couple factors. Keep in mind that I am writing this article based on the female body. Yes, male athletes use this method also but I have written the procedures and food measurements based on my own body. If you are a male, you would have to modify the food portions and macros, with consideration of your lean body mass, how much weight that you need to cut, and timing, because normally it’s easier for men to lose more weight than women in a shorter period of time.
Disclaimer: Of course, this is only a temporary method of weight loss used to make weight for a meet. It is not meant for long-term use and you WILL add the weight back on quickly after you return to a normal diet. I know that most of you reading this already know that but I’m just throwing that out there for those that may not.
Also, I am not saying this is the best way to cut, it is just my preference and I am sharing it with you just to give as an option because there are other ways to do this. Everyone’s body is different; what works for me may not work for you so just remember that.
Is It Necessary?
First thing is first. Decide if cutting is even necessary or worth it before you do it. If you don’t have to cut weight then don’t. By this I mean, if it’s not because you are trying to hit a specific goal for that weight class (for example, you really want to bench 200lbs at 123lbs), or if you aren’t trying to break some type of record, then first ask yourself if you really need to do this. If you’re just a few pounds away from that weight class then sure, it’s no big deal. But if you’re a female having to cut 8lbs or more and don’t have any specific goals for that weight class, I wouldn’t recommend it.
If this is your first meet ever, don’t cut weight. It doesn’t matter if you’re only a couple pounds shy of making a weight class. Cutting weight for a meet adds not only stress to the situation but it can negatively impact your strength and potentially give you a bad first meet experience. Your first meet is supposed to be fun. It’s best to see how you perform without that variable and then test it out later after you know what to expect when your body isn’t under any added stress.
Factors to Consider
This is essentially a process of dehydrating the body of excess water and substances. It’s not easy to get your body rehydrated back to normal so it can take somewhat of a toll (significant or not). People who do not cut weight will always have that advantage over someone who has to because rehydrating is tricky and sometimes isn’t achieved 100% if done inefficiently. The way it affects your body may be different than someone else’s as far as strength and performance goes so you can’t go in thinking “Sally cut 10 lbs easy and performed great, It’ll be no problem for me to expect the same.”
Now, let’s consider a few things.
- The leaner you are in regard to body fat percentage, the harder it’s going to be to cut weight (Someone who is 14% body fat will have a much harder time losing 7lbs than someone who is 20% body fat). So if you are a pretty lean person like myself, and need to lose 8-12lbs make sure that you give yourself more than just a week to do this. You’ll want to look at your weight about 4 weeks out and make sure not to gain anymore from then on. Implement some steady state cardio for 30 min a few times a week or clean up your diet just a little.
- As a woman, I suggest that you don’t try to cut more than 10lbs max without expecting some effects to your strength. If you need to cut more, start doing what I said above by implementing some light and steady cardio and cleaning up your diet about a month out to slowly get down to a more manageable starting weight.
What I do is called water loading. I am drinking a large amount of water continuously throughout the day to trick my body into excreting the excess water from my body along with it. I do this with diet modification by slowly decreasing my portion sizes and eventually cutting out diary and carbohydrates completely. I consume an increased amount fat during this time because I am typically using a modified carb-backloading type of diet. By eating an increased amount of fat in the last week of weight cutting, it’s easy to get in calories and you don’t have to consume very much of it to get the calories you need for fuel.
- Because I am a pretty lean person and usually cut around 8 or 9 lbs, 2 weeks out I start slowly increasing my water intake. 1 gallon a day is the max. At this point everything I eat is clean. I eat leaner proteins like fish and chicken, and cleaner carbs like rice and quinoa. I have cut my carbs down to about 80g per day total. Overall calories are around 1,200.
- The Monday of competition week I start drinking 2 gallons of water a day. I cut my food portions in half from 6oz of protein to 3oz and 3oz of veggies, 3 times a day. I still have coffee but not with heavy whipping cream, instead I use coconut oil and cinnamon. I cut out carbs completely and dairy. I increase my fat intake to replace some of the calories that was getting from carbs. Usually this is replaced by cooking everything in some type of oil. Total calories have been cut to around 700 per day.
- The day before weigh in’s I’ll cut my water to only half a gallon and drink it up until 6pm. That morning I’ll have my coffee with coconut oil and cinnamon, for lunch and dinner before 6pm I’ll have 3oz of egg whites for each meal. I’ll not eat anything after 6pm except maybe a teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil for calories. You’ll continue to lose the excess water out of your body without having to ingest anything else. Don’t have anything else until after you weigh in the next morning. Also, remember to go to the restroom right before you get on the scale.
For someone that only needs to lose just a few pounds or tends to drop water weight a little easier than most of us, you can get away with just drinking the recommended amount of water as mentioned above up until the weigh in. Carbs and dairy may not have to be cut out completely for this person but I would still recommend that they eat clean and control their calorie and portion sizes to a certain degree.
If it’s the night before weigh in’s and your still a few pounds over your desired weight, you can go to a sauna and try to sweat it out. Some people will walk on a treadmill or stair climber wrapped with a waist wrap to try and sweat out water that way if the sauna doesn’t help enough. I don’t recommend that you use diuretics to cut because it’s hard to time it perfectly and not cut too much weight. You take the chance of the diuretic still making you lose water if it isn’t timed and controlled correctly, even after you are finished weighing in and have resumed drinking liquids.
Rehydrating after you weigh in is the most important aspect of cutting weight. If you cannot rehydrate efficiently, you are better off just going up another weight class and competing without cutting. You want to make sure that you are hydrated enough to recover your strength to what it was before the cut. I have a few suggestions for you in order to make sure that you rehydrate and recover sufficiently.
- Immediately after you weigh in, take some Imodium to prevent you from losing any more water and having diarrhea whenever you start eating regular foods again. Also, drink a bottle of pedialyte and take a multi-vitamin to help replenish some of the minerals and electrolytes that you lost earlier while cutting. Gatorade works but is not as effective as pedialyte.
- Go eat! Eat a good meal with carbs and proteins right after you weigh in but don’t gorge yourself otherwise you will fill up to quickly and won’t be able to eat again until hours later. Take your time and eat slowly and consistently throughout the day.
- Take a tablespoon of Glycerin. It’s a clear gel substance that comes in a bottle at Wal-Mart and most drug stores. Glycerin helps absorb water into your muscles to rehydrate them. Take some the morning an hour before the meet also. Drink water with it so that you have something to absorb.
- Drink water and pedialyte throughout the day just like you do with your food. I usually bring 2 bottles of pedialyte total for the day and drink 3 regular 9oz bottles of water.
- Rest and recover for the remainder of the day and get a good night’s sleep so that you can wake up refreshed and ready to go.
Like I said previously, this is just the way that I prefer to perform my weight cut but there are other ways to do it if this doesn’t seem like the best option for you. Whatever you choose to do, be aware of the consequences and potential effects of that method.Caitlyn Trout is a fierce competitor in the raw powerlifting world. She is a graduate student at Eastern Kentucky University and is based at Four Brother’s Gym in Mt. Vernon, KY where she achieved pro raw status within the 2 years of training. Her best competition lifts are 370/165/ 385 at 122 bodyweight. Caitlyn’s squat of 370 and overall total of 920 are the World Records in the 123 weight class raw w/ wraps. This young athlete has a promising career in front of her, as she looks to inspire females to pursue strength. Facebook, YouTube