In order to enter in certain weight category, most of the grapplers need to perform weight cut.
The manipulation could be achieved through different methods, depending on the amount of weight, needed to be decreased or the athlete.
In most of the cases, athletes are cutting around 4-5 kg (5-9% of their body weight). Minimums of 2-3 kg (2,5- 6% of BW)and maximums of 6-12 kg (9-21% of BW) are the norms. Biggest percentage of weight loss is usually observed in grapplers from 48, 52, 57 kg categories.
On average, grapplers use 5 to 9 days for the cut. In some cases, for the procedure might be used 12 to 30 days, depending on the category.
Practically, the two most used methods are the Forced (duration of 1-2 days) and the Dispersed (duration of 7-30 days). The majority of the grapplers stick to the second one.
We can list the following methods of cutting weight:
1. Even- for the duration of the whole period, the athlete cuts equal amount per day (usually 0,5- 1 kg or more).
2. Forced- the athlete drops 40-50% of the planned weight to cut, in the first 2 days, followed by a bit smoother loss of the other 50%, during the next few days, gradually dropping the percentage in the last few days.
3. Increasing- the percentage of the weight to be cut increases gradually in the last days.
4. Interval- the athlete drops 1-3 kg and maintains the weight for several days, before he drops again, then does another maintaining interval and repeats, until he enters in the category.
5. Wave- long period weight cut, which is consisted on intervals of weight drop, followed by periods of small weight increase.
Grapplers, who cut 5-9% of BW, usually use the 1st and the 3rd method.
If weight cut over 9% is required, most athletes prefer 2nd, 4th and 5th.
The basics of weight cut are complexes, including specific exercises, diet and in the last few days, use of sauna or steam baths. As a rule, in the beginning of the diet, all experienced grapplers are limiting their salt intake and immediately after making weight, they usually take extra, to compensate the salt- water balance.
Usually, the characteristic of a training during weight cut is that creates strong endurance base. The athlete performs with bigger intensity and volume, which by it self, helps the weight cut. To increase the effect, could be added specific circuits, warm clothing and sweat suits.
In order to drop weight safely, need to understand some of the biological processes, udergoing in the athlete’s body.
One of the most important energy sources for our bodies is called glycogen. During dehydration, we can observe the decreased levels of glycogen in the muscles and the liver. That leads to lower work capacity and recovery process.
After weight cut, we can also observe lower levels of glucose in the blood and shift of the lactic and the pyruvic acids. This demonstrates the dominating anaerobic (more energy demanding) processes.
There are plenty of experiments, showing us that the weight cut could be quite the challenge for an athlete from the biological point of view sometimes it can lead to overtraining and the so called “burn out”.
In a long term, 10-12 days weight cuts have been proven to be most beneficial for the athletes, allowing them to restore their natural mineral exchange, leading to a better performance during training and increasing the functional potential of the grappler.
The age of the athlete is also a factor we should be aware of. The regular weight cut is dangerous for junior grapplers and could be very difficult for seniors (over 30 years) who have used weight manipulation processes before.
Recently, there are plenty of advanced methods, used by many different dietologists, combined with certain medicaments.
From personal experience though, I prefer to stick to the basics and stay healthy in the long run.