One of the
things that can have the largest immediate effect on your performance in a
competition is your ability to make weight without affecting your strength or
physical capacities. Done incorrectly,
making weight can even affect you mentally, leaving you miserable and with no
confidence in your abilities. It can
also just plain take the fun out of competing!
biggest mistakes made are leaving too much weight loss for the day before and
day of the competition and ending up spending hours in the sauna sapping your
strength before you lift, or, making weight too early through dehydration, then
maintaining your weight and dehydrated state for too long before lifting. You should not be in a sauna for hours and
hours directly before competing, and you should not be in one at all the day
before or two days before competing! The
biggest trick to making weight is timing it right, and the following outline
will tell you how to do that.
There are 4
parts to successfully making weight.
Part 1 is the weight you lose, hopefully mostly bodyfat, leading up to
the last week before competition. Part
two is the water weight you lose by carb depletion and the weight you lose by
not having a full digestion tract during the last 3 days before the competition,
and part 3 is the weight you lose via dehydration via perspiration directly before
weigh-in. Part 4 is what you do
immedietly after making weight, to replenish yourself for the competition.
the best way to illustrate this is through example, so I will use a
hypothetical model that largely mirrors a situation that I have found myself in
many times as a coach.
imagine a 105kg lifter who trains most of the year at or around 110kg. This athlete does not have to really diet to
stay at 110kg, but still has to watch what he eats, eating anything and
everything he wanted would probably put him at 115kg in a month or so. Just keep in mind that this is all by
percentages, so if you are coaching an athlete weighing 52kg, the actual
weights lost will be about ½ of what is calculated for a 105kg lifter
,athlete, making weight would start 3 to 4 weeks out from competition, with the
goal of attaining a weight of 108kg via
gentle dieting that doesn’t affect strength or energy, and attain this weight
5-7 days out from competition. Generally
for a hard training athlete of this size to lose 2kg over a 2-3 week period
requires nothing more than a tightening up of the diet, cutting out the sugar,
the junk food, etc. This amount of
weight loss can be accomplished without it negatively affecting strength or
training energy. This is an individual
process, but, we want to start the last week before competition 2-3% overweight, instead of 5% overweight.
out, Tuesday of the competition week assuming competition is on Saturday, the
athlete will begin to deplete carbs and make sure that the digestion is moving
quickly so that they will end up weighing in with as close to an empty
digestive track as possible. Pay attention
to drinking plenty of distilled water, not so much as to be uncomfortable, but
more than would be normal, and, without cutting down on the total amount of
food eaten, start to favor protein and
fat over carbohydrate sources. Tuna,
chicken breast, sardines and salmon, or lean cuts of red meat along with
vegatables and salads with olive oil and lemon juice dressing work very well at
this point. A couple of eggs for
breakfast work fine. No breads, fruit
juices, rice, potatoes, or other foods rich in starch or sugar. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 30
minute very leisurely walks should be taken in the evening. Aim not to be hungry, but don’t over-eat
either, although over-eating on the diet as described is hard. If the athlete competes in the morning, you
want to go to bed the night before (Friday night) .5 to .7kg overweight, and if
the athlete competes in the afternoon, you want to go to bed a full kilo over
the night before
It is very
common for a 3 day carb reduction like this to take the athlete from 108kg, or
3kg over on Tuesday to 106kg on Friday without ever having to feel hungry or
deprived, and with no loss of energy. If the weight is coming off too fast, eat
more and eat a higher proportion of red meat, if the weight is not coming off
fast enough, eat a higher proportion of chicken breast and eat less. Control fluid intake on Friday to make sure
you are the desired weight by the time you go to bed Friday night. Do not restrict fluid before Friday at noon.
If you go to
bed Friday night the recommended amount over weight (.5 to .7kg over if you
weigh in in the morning, 1 full kilo over if you weigh in in the afternoon) you
will likely wake up on weight or close to it for morning weigh-ins and within
.2 to .3kg for afternoon weigh-ins. For
a morning weigh-in, you should definitely not wake up more than .2 or .3 kilos
over. In this case, recognize the fact
that because of nerves, if you got up and weighed at 8am, and weigh in at 12am,
you just might burn off that .2kg with no further action on your part. Be ready to jump in a sauna at about 1130
though (or 30 minutes before whenever weigh-ins start), just in case you have a
tenth or so left to go at that time. If
you wake up on weight or below it, eggs are excellent… with no fluid intake if you are right
on. Any weight gain from a couple of
eggs at 8am will be gone by a 10am weigh-in if you wake up on weight, and if
you wake up below, two eggs plus enough liquid to get you back up to weight are
just the ticket.
compete in the afternoon, and went to bed 1kg over, it’s likely that you will
wake up roughly .3 over.
Assuming you wake up at 8am, and weigh in at 3pm, and wake up at say .3
or even .4 over, then go ahead and eat two eggs, or a bit of chicken breast,
with no fluid intake, then wait it out.
By 2pm, with no further fluid or food intake, you should be on or below
weight. If at any time you find yourself
below, eat to get back to exactly on weight, if you find yourself still
slightly over at 2pm, locate the sauna and be prepared to jump in at 2:30 to
lose the last tenth or two.
weigh in, what you do next is just as important as what you did to make
weight. All too often an athlete will
“reward” themselves with food they don’t usually eat, or very heavy and high
fat food, or even with sugary junk, none of which will put you in the best
state to compete up to your ability.
Athletes also often want to focus on eating directly after weigh-in,
instead of drinking, which is also a mistake.
combination I have found to be the most successful for replenishing an athlete
who has made weight via this method is a drink like Gatorade, oranges, and a
sandwich or two. Why this
combination? Well, Gatorade both
replenishes some carbs as well as fluid,
everyone likes oranges and they give you sugar and calories without
causing an insulin spike, and everyone eats and is used to sandwiches, it’s not
a new or “strange” food for almost anyone, and, with bread, turkey, ham or
chicken, a slice of cheese, and maybe a little mayo, they have a macro nutrient
profile that fills you up and sticks with you over hours of competition without
being “heavy” in your stomach.
the following. Have on hand at least two
1 liter bottles of Gatorade, 3 oranges, and 3 sandwiches made with bread,
chicken, turkey, or ham, one slice of cheese per sandwich, and a small amount
of mayo if desired. Immedietly after
weigh-in, drink as much Gatorade as possible without feeling bloated. Now, just to waste time, get your gear
together, make sure you have everything you need, tape, your shoes, etc. Waste 15 minutes or so before you put
anything else in your mouth besides that Gatorade. We do this because fluid absorbs quickest
from an empty stomach, and we need that fluid at this point worse than we need
the food. After 15-20 minutes of
Gatorade only, eat an orange, then unwrap a sandwich and start to nibble on
it. I say nibble, because if there was
ever a time to eat slow and chew thouroughly, this is it. The slower you eat and the better you chew,
the quicker it will digest, and we want it to digest FAST… we want those calories and nutrients in your
bloodstream replenishing what you have depleted the last few days, not sitting
around in your stomach being useless!
How much can be eaten depends on the individual, but avoid a full or
bloated feeling while eating as much as you can and still feeling ready to
lift. Even the smallest athlete or the
one with the worst appetite should be able to eat 1 sandwich, most will eat
two, and some will polish off all 3, but 3 will be rare, and limited to larger
men that are used to large amounts of food to keep their bodyweight up. In the last 30 to 45 minutes before you start
to warm up in the snatch, keep sipping the Gatorade, and its perfectly fine to
eat another half of an orange, or even a few bites of a sandwich if you feel
“hungry” or feel like you can do it without feeling full. Just don’t overdo it.
advice and you will go into your snatches with energy and strength, and without
a heavy or upset stomach… but it doesn’t
end there. Another big mistake people
often make is not eating or drinking between snatch and clean and jerk. Remember that if you have just lost 3% of
your bodyweight in 4 or 5 days, you will have replenished your body to the
point of letting it perform at its best before the snatch, but you have
certainly built no reserves!!! All too
often, an athlete will feel no immediate need to eat or drink right after
snatch, but the half hour of rest, clean and jerk warm-ups, nerves, and first
attempt will all conspire to drain the athlete and let them really “hit the
wall” sometime around the second or third attempt clean and jerk. I have seen this a hundred times. A PR total lost because an athlete that
looked great in the snatches feels fatigued, listless, even sleepy by the time
the last clean and jerk rolls around.
Avoid this by, drinking at least 12 oz of Gatorade and eating ½ or a whole orange immedietly after you drop
your third snatch, even if you don’t feel like it. You will be glad you did when the third
attempt clean and jerk weight is on the bar.
not have a full 5% of your bodyweight to lose, simply start the process
wherever you happen to fit. For example,
if you are training at 108kg, or about 3kg over, then do no 2-3 weeks of
dieting, but jump on the described program the Tuesday before the competition
and carry on from their as described.
Say you are
1kg or less over at your normal walking around weight and weighing in in the
morning… skipping supper, taking a 30
minute walk before bed, then checking your weight 30 min before weigh-ins start
and being ready to sauna if necessary is the ticket. If weighing in in the afternoon, then simply
adjust your diet and fluid intake the day before to make sure you are no more
than 1kg over at bedtime, then, after two eggs in the morning adjust the rest
of your fluid and food intake to be at or almost at weight 30 minutes before
weigh-in and be ready to sauna off the last .1 or .2 kilos if necessary.
indeed saved the biggest secret of successfully making weight for last. The real key is KEEPING RECORDS. Even if you are in your first year of
lifting, and ready to go to your first National competition, you have no doubt
made weight at 2-3 local meets before you get on that plane and fly to Junior
Nationals or Schoolage or the American open.
Use those local meets a practice sessions, write down and keep track of
how much you were over or how much you weighed a week out, a day out, the
evening before, etc. Keep track of what
you eat, how much you lose overnight, etc.
By the time you get to Nationals, you should know how much you are gonna
lose overnight in several different situations.
You should know how much you are gonna weigh at 2pm if you wake up at
8am and eat only 2 eggs between 8 and 2.
The more times you make weight, and the better records you keep, the
easier it will be for you to adjust my rough guide to a very precise plan that
works perfecty every time for you and your individual and unique metabolism. Also keep in mind that the weights listed are
for the 105kg lifter used in the example, adjust them as appropriate for you,
for instance, 3kg is about 3% for a 105kg lifter, but for a 69kg lifter 2kg is
This is a
plan that has worked, with small individual adjustments, very well for me
literally hundreds of times. Try it out,
and I hope it helps you to perform up to your very best abilities in your next
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