Disclaimer: We do not advocate drastic weight cutting in any way, shape, or form.
Now that that is out of the way, let’s discuss the reality of the matter. No matter how much the governing boards of our various weight based sports try to discourage weight cutting (urine tests, banning saunas and sauna suits, etc,) many athletes still do and find ways to avoid the latest ‘safety’ rules. I have been competing (and making weight) in Judo, wrestling, and BJJ for the past 22 years and have got my weight cutting down to a science. Here is how I cut ten pounds in one to one and a half hours.
Note: Now everyone’s bodies and metabolisms are different and as a result different people lose weight faster or slower than others. I am 5’8 and compete at 81kg (178lbs)
I keep try to maintain a constant weight of 10lbs (~4kg) above my weight class, because I know that I can lose that weight in about an hour when I have to. I begin cutting weight no earlier than 18 hours before I have to weigh in. For example when I have to weigh in at 6am I usually start cutting the afternoon before, but if I am fortunate enough to weigh in the day/night before competition, I generally start cutting just a few hours before I have to weigh in. I do not change my diet or reduce my eating in any way; the only weight I lose is water weight.
I begin by putting on my weight cutting outfit: Waist down (inner layer to outer layer): underwear, sweat pants or warm-ups, plastic sauna pants. Waist up: Long sleeve athletic shirt, plastic sauna top, my Homer Simpson “Living XXL” hoodie. I keep the sweat pants and shirt light so I have more mobility; they are mainly there just to soak up the sweat. For sports where plastic suits are illegal like collegiate and high school wrestling, I would recommend an additional layer of sweats. Of course also wear socks and some old athletic shoes you don’t care about (if you do this right you will sweat through your shoes, ruining the possibility of wearing them in public again. I have a special pair of old beat up shoes I wear exclusively when cutting.)
This is all about testicular fortitude.
I start by doing 30 minutes of cardio as hard and fast as I can. This usually means that I start out sprinting for the first 10 minutes to quickly break a sweat, than slowly (involuntarily) decrease my speed as the fatigue of dehydration sets in and the last few minutes become a struggle to move. The entire time I have my hood on tight keeping my head from releasing any body heat. I have bad knees so I use the elliptical or crosstraining machines when available.
The next 30 minutes I try to keep myself moving and occupied as my body continues to sweat (thank you plastic suit and hoodie). This can be the most difficult time as all you want to do now is strip down and jump in a pool of ice water. Keeping all my cloths on and my hoodie tight over my head, I usually stretch out for awhile, walk around on the gym, bounce up and down on the giant workout balls, slowly spin on the stationary bikes, stare back at the curious onlookers, and if there is a basketball court in the gym, shoot hoops. I found that shooting basketballs works well because not only is it somewhat entertaining, but since I am a horrible shot, I spend a lot of time chasing the ball around which keeps me moving and my heart rate up. I keep doing these things until boredom, heat exhaustion and fatigue finally defeat my will power or I stop sweating. If you have followed all this and come to a point where you have stopped sweating, then you are sufficiently dehydrated and should stop immediately.
By now it has been somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. I go back to my room and take a cold shower. Once I have taken my apparel off, I usually have to wait about 10 minutes before I get into the shower, allowing my body to cool down naturally and stop sweating. I then put my now loose fitting street cloths back on, check to make sure I have lost all the weight I need to, and kill time until weigh ins. Once making weight, I usually chug about a gallon (not an exaggeration) of Rapid Rehydration and proceed to feed. I usually go through a box of Rapid Rehydration between weigh-ins and competing.
As you can see, this is not rocket surgery or brain science. It is all about will power and determination. It is true that whoever wants it more gets it.
Always remember: If at any point you feel nauseous or feel like fainting, stop immediately and cool down as fast as possible. Heat exhaustion is a very real and serious danger.