Most strength athletes (Olympic lifters, powerlifters, strongmen cross-fitters) usually weigh in for a contest 3-12 hours prior to competing. This can be very difficult to do, while maintaining strength.
Here are some guidelines to give you some insight into a smart way to drop those last few pounds for a weigh-in prior to competition.
As students of the strength game, we are under constant bombardment about the importance of training hard and why to avoid cardio so we don’t want to lose our strength, which has been the center of our universe for the past couple months of a training cycle. Most Powerlifters that I know wait until the last minute and destroy a huge amount of work by starving, dehydrating and running their bodies to death two days prior to a contest to make weight.
I want to start this off by saying that the most important thing for success is proper planning, starting months ahead of time and most of all – food & beverage discipline! If we can keep our training weight within 8 pounds of our competition weight, making weight will be easy with the plan outlined below. Also, if we stay within 8 pounds of our competition weight and weigh-in the night prior, by competition time the next day, you will be back to your normal training weight.
I want to start this off by listing some examples of things I have done to lose weight that were NOT SMART!
1. DO NOT Attempt to drop 13 pounds of water weight in 1 day via sweat bags, sauna, diuretics and 24 hour Hollywood diet in a bottle! Not one of my better decisions!
Result: My heart was palpitating, I thought I was going to die and I missed weight by .3 lb, and the next day I performed terribly.
2. DO NOT Attempt to drop 11 pounds of water in 3 days by starving, dehydrating and spitting myself to near death! Better, but still not a good decision!
Result: I made weight, but none of my gear fit resulting in a terrible performance.
3. DO NOT Attempt to drop 8 pounds of water in 2 days by doing crazy cardio for 3 days, starving, dehydrating, spitting, sauna and sweat bags. Terrible idea!
Result: I made weight easier, but had no strength for competition. These examples probably look funny but sound really familiar to many of you. Unfortunately, I repeated these practices to different degrees for my first 3 years of competing.
Here’s What I’ve Found to Work Successfully:
I am 68 inches tall and currently weigh in at 184-186 lb daily. I check my weight every day at the same time. This is the only accurate way that you can keep tabs on your weight (check it daily, at the same time, on the same scale, wearing your same birthday suit.)
By checking your weight daily, you have an idea of the amount you are eating, your activity level and the effect all of this has on your body. With these things in mind, it will be easier for you to drop those last few pounds over a period of 5-7 days by performing simple math and adjusting your water intake.
- During the 5-7 days prior to your contest, you will be in recovery mode. Because of this, your body will not be burning near the same amount of carbohydrates/muscle glycogen as it normally would from training. When the body is resting, it produces 60% of its energy from fat stores. What does this mean to us?
- We can reduce our carbohydrate intake (not eliminate) to manipulate our body weight.
- Keep our quick-digesting protein (chicken, eggs, ground turkey, ALLMAX Isoflex protein powder) intake the same. At this time, we should stop eating things that our bodies struggle with digesting such as red meat.
- Slightly increase our good fat intake (not saturated, or Trans fats) since this is what our body will primarily be using for energy over the next 5-7 days.
- Increase our water intake to (2) gallons a day!!
I know that the idea with the water sounds crazy. We are going to trick our body. The human body is made up of roughly 70% water. With that being said, if we pump our bodies with around 2 gallons or so of water for a few days straight, it will get used to processing it rapidly, resulting in rapid water shedding.
This is What We Want
The night prior to weigh-in, you will stop drinking water around 1700 and the only water you will drink will have ALLMAX Isoflex protein powder in it (4-6 ounces at a time). What we are doing is tricking our body. It was so used to you pounding water that it will keep processing it at the same speed for the next 24 hours resulting in your getting rid of your water weight and not feeling terrible!
About 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight. Knowing this we can cut our amount of carbs down by say 500-700 calories a day (for example, 1 cup of cooked brown rice is roughly 430 calories) for the 5-7 days prior to weigh-in. This example results in roughly 3,500-4900 calories of carbs out of your diet which equals 1-1.5 pounds
The night prior to weigh-in, I also recommend you take dandelion. This herb can be bought nearly anywhere and is a natural diuretic. For me, I have found that if I take (2) with dinner the night before weigh-in and (2) in the morning with breakfast, it gives me the little extra push and reduces the water weight I need to lose.
On the day of weigh-in judging on your bodyweight in the morning, you should still be able to eat a reasonable breakfast and a very moderate lunch. Remember, you will not be drinking extra water at this time. The only water you will take in will be with protein powder and once again, it is based on your current bodyweight.
Have a sauna suit and a sweat shirt ready for the last few hours before weigh-in. If you are off weight slightly, you will be able to put them on and start walking either outside or in a gym until you start sweating. For me, I usually lose a pound in about 20 minutes.
Immediate Nutrition Plan for Post Weigh-In
- Drink a quick-digesting protein shake such as ALLMAX Isoflex whey protein isolate along with ALLMAX Waxy Maize 2300. Mix these two ingredients in a 1:2 ration (1 protein to 2 carbs). The idea is to quickly replenish glycogen and amino acids in your body.
- 1 Banana
- 1 cooked potato (eat it like an apple)
- Continue to replenish with normal food from your diet the rest of the night and morning of contest.
I have used this method repeatedly and found it very effective. The bottom line is that you have to know your body and do what works for you. I think that this approach is smart because it allows you to train and compete at the same weight, and you are still eating solid food through the afternoon of weigh-in day.
Brian Kiraly is currently training for the 2011 US Powerlifting Association National and Military Championships in July 1-3 in Anaheim, California.
Check out this Brian’s training video, four weeks into his training cycle.