Pondering a Weight Cut

I’ve met very few top grappling athletes and coaches that don’t see cutting weight as an integral part of the sport. I think it’s an unfortunate but necessary fact of life for the pros. However, a major downside of that is that this mindset trickles down to the amateurs (such as myself and others I compete against), the weekend warriors, the lower ranks. I’ve often met guys going into their first tournament that focus exclusively on the weight cut without putting much emphasis on drilling solid technique, learning, and just enjoying (win or lose) their first tournament experience.

I am an academic by day, night, and weekend. All I do is read, write, think, and program. I’m often sleep deprived. On top of all that, I have a fat kid in my brain that loves food. I think my friends know me as someone who is very strict about his diet, but there is a reason for that. It’s because I lack the ability to stop eating bad food. The only way, I can live happily is by eating healthy and strictly controlling the portions I eat. But all that falls apart on days and weeks when I have tons of work and am not able to sleep as much as I want.

If I don’t have any deadlines coming up at work, and I get full 8 hours of sleep, dieting is easy. But without that, it becomes extremely difficult. So I decided some time ago that I won’t let weight get in the way of my enjoying competition. Whatever weight I am, I decided to enjoy the experience without cutting weight. It’s very difficult for me to beat out the wrestler mindset that wants to come in 10-15 lbs lighter than my fat weight, but I’m working on it, and trying not to letting the obsessive weight cutting of others affect me.

That said, there is a tournament coming up in a month where going to the 163 lbs division (from my current weight of 180 lbs) is good because in that division (light blue belt absolute) I have a chance to win a fully-paid trip to compete in Abu Dhabi. There are two divisions: 163 lbs and below, and 163 lbs and above. I have confidence that I can do well against 200+ lbs guys in terms of strength, but it’s the length (long and lanky) that I struggle with, and at 180-220 lbs guys can get really damn tall.

So the question is, do I want to cut 17 lbs in one month. The weigh-ins are the night before, so a lot of that can be water weight 24 hours before. That’s very important, obviously, since I wouldn’t make such a huge cut otherwise. But some of that (~7 lbs) will have to be real weight, which means dieting, which means more cardio (like running) than usual, which means suffering through the days when I have a ton of work, little sleep, and no chance to eat away the exhaustion.

I don’t know. I have to stay up tonight again, working. My knee is still hurt, and I don’t quite have that mental energy required to go to bed on an empty stomach, but I’ll give it a try. I’m going to compete either way, whatever the division, and am going to enjoy the hell out of it.

I’ll leave the post witha cool video of Krzysztof Soszynski making a big cut for a UFC fight.

Now, back to work.

0 thoughts on “Pondering a Weight Cut

  1. Lincoln

    Lex,

    In high-level judo, most players don’t actually cut that much of weight before competition like MMA. It’s rare to hear someone cuts 18lb. in a week, generally the person just move up to the next category. One of the biggest reasons is that the weigh-in is always in the morning of the competition and there is generally less than two hours of free time before the competition begins. There are some competitions that weigh-in the night before, but they are few.

    Cutting weight also depends on the person’s body type. If a person has a lot of fat to lose, then a long-term program should be used to achieve a lean body. If a person is already very lean and has little fat to lose, then it’s down to the water weight. In general, top judo players cut about 2~3kg on average for the light to middle weight division. 5kg for the heavier weight divisions. Some prefer to be slightly under weight so that they can focus on getting good sleep and eating well without the stress of cutting weight. A well-rested, fed and hydrated fighter generally performs better than one that is not.

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