Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
November 12, 2018
Whenever you watch certain sports, you start hearing the world “cut” get thrown around. In the time honored tradition of competitive individual sports, a lot of these competitions and matches rely heavily on people meting a certain weight requirement to compete. Size matters in any sport, so the general thought process is to squeeze into a certain weight class and hope you have enough energy and time to get back on your feet and compete fully. Essentially, what a lot of athletes do is they will literally starve or dehydrate themselves going into a weight-in and hope they they can make the weight they need to be at for their match. Then they replenish themselves and compete at a higher weight when the fight bell rings. This sort of thing is pretty common in boxing, wrestling, martial arts and mixed martial arts. It’s become quite a topic in these arenas as technology and other idea have made it easier to lose the weight and then replenish. This is why you hear announcers say “so and so weighed in at 155 but he had tough 23 pound cut leading up to the match.” What you heard is correct….a 178-pound man used the system to fight a 155-pound fight. Now of course, there are risks to doing this type of stuff, for you might not replenish enough energy and strength to win your fight, or perhaps you go up against a fighter that managed to cut even more weight than you. This is just one version of cutting, and it can be pretty extreme. But it is a necessary one if you want to fight in multiple weight classes, kind of like what can be done in boxing these days. It’s the reason why many of the best boxers in the game have three to five titles in multiple weight classes (plus boxing just has way too many boxing federations). The other type of cutting might be physique championships, where you compete against others to show off your cuts and muscle in a haze of bronzer and baby oil. Both processes are tough on the body but it is pretty obvious which one is most likely better. Let’s begin.
Cutting weight can fall into two camps. You can do it over the course of several weeks, which is the recommended approach when competing in most sports and competing in physique shows. The other case be a little taxing, where you can lose a couple dozen pounds in a few days with some well planned nutrition. Basically, cutting weight is a way to turn that fat you gained from bulking and turn it into muscle. But in most instances these days, the focus is on the crazy cutting that a lot of combat fighters do these days, where they can drop up to 30 pounds in a week. https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/how-to-cut-weight-the-right-wayIf you read this article carefully, you can see just the amount of work necessary to drop the weight needed in a short period of time. Part of the process is reduction in the water intake, and that is a pretty huge factor in the weight loss process. If you ever heard the joke from overweight people saying their extra weight is “water weight,” well there is some truth to that. As the process continues, the amount of water intake and food intake drastically changes as fiber is reduced and fats are increased. This is achieved over a small period of time and then that is when you can get into the scary stuff. Saunas, training with plastic bags or sweat inducing clothing and even hot showers can be utilized in the final week of a massive weight cut. This is why a major part of the commentary at a lot of Ultimate Fighting Championship fights is whether one fighter looks like they took the weight cut well or not. You can kind of tell when a fight is not ready when they mention they had a tough cut or not. Some UFC fighters like Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen routinely cut 30-35 pounds. While many have done and succeeded with these methods, they come with huge risks. https://www.popsci.com/cutting-weight-is-dangerous#page-3Organ failure is a major possibility, especially with the kidneys. Dehydration is an obvious risk as well hunger. And if you fight in a combat sport, being dehydrated can leave your brain more prone to damage since their is less fluid around it to keep the soft matter from flailing around. Take a watch of this video from and you can see the madness to the method. https://youtu.be/NPF1iFVxAfoEven after you make the weight from this extreme cut, you can’t go out and eat a massive burger or something. You have to most likely fill up on some smoothies and protein shakes to replenish yourself, for your body might have a major shock if you start eating massive amounts of solid food. And that is not the only risk involved. When doing massive cuts and then replenishing, you are obviously not going to have the same power and capability. Most events usually have the fight the day after a weight-in, so this is where your training and cardio is going to have to save you. Needless to say this is not really something you can do all the time, as most fighters seem to fight maybe a couple times a year.
The extreme cutting often times puts a scary vibe on this aspect of fitness, but when done correctly, cutting can be a difficult but workable process. Now I know everyone really hates Floyd Mayweather but let’s face it, the guy is 50-0 and suckered you out of 500 million dollars during his last three fights (which is probably the only reason you are mad). At 5-8 and 150 pounds, he can easily manipulate three weight classes (154, 147 and 140) and possibly push for two others (135 and 160). But despite what you think about him intelligence wise, he stayed within the first three weight classes and thrived. Making bigger jumps can lead to energy depletion and this is why he won…he had so much energy no one could really touch him. With four boxing organizations to choose from, there is no surprise he had so many titles to his name. Now when doing a slow weight cut, you have to really plan it out. You can have a cutting period as long as 16 weeks to as short as four, so the hard part is planning out your caloric intake, or deficit caloric intake. You have to remember that you are maintaining a training regimen while cutting yourself off of most carbohydrates, so you will become irritable at some points. While most doctors state that to safely cut weight you might want to shoot for one or two pounds a week. This is recommended if you are already in decent shape and just simply want to slim down. Obviously if you are overweight, the gains will be bigger as your body works harder to cool itself down and also needs more output to actually move. The tricky side of this equation is if you are a power lifter or you get into physique contests and you want to maintain enough energy to make weight. This is why you need an experienced trainer that can help you with this process because when done improperly, you can run into weird days where you might binge and ruin all of your hard work. This is why the dirty and clean bulking becomes such a heated topic in the weightlifting and physique world. If you are gonna cut the weight, does it really matter if you eat that bucket of fried chicken with donuts on top or do you really have to eat a pound of chicken (or my case, tofu) with a head of broccoli and oatmeal? As we illustrated before clean bulking can lead to better results if you are doing physique training because you are simply eating more nutrient dense and healthy food as opposed to eating calories.
Cutting is not easy. It is a mental game you have to prepare for due to the fact you have so many bad recipes on the web enticing you with fat and caloric filled recipes. But if you want to lose some weight through a weight cut, then doing the slower process is certainly the better option.
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Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
Meet the Author
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
Steve shares his journey once a week here on our blog. We hope that you find a spark of inspiration from reading his blog.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.