Powerlifting: The Water Cut

Loosing Weight for PowerliftingIt is a common practice to severely reduce bodyweight prior to competition among athletes in sports which are divided by weight division and there are many reason why an athlete may need to do a cut. But how do you cut 5-10% of your bodyweight in just a few days? One method is to do a water cut.

Warning

If you are preparing for your first ever powerlifing meet, then you should not be cutting, your first competition will be stressful enough without the added stress of cutting. If you are not competing for records or team selections don’t cut. Cutting too much weight right before a meet can leave you weak and far from your best, leading to decreased performance.

How to do a Water Cut

Stage 1

During the weeks of training in preparation for your event you are aiming to stay within 1-3 kg of your weight division, if you are heavier than this, you need to change your body composition through normal diet changes to be within this range a week out from your event. If you are still more than 3 kg over weight a week from your competition, you can still make weight but the larger cut puts you at greater risk of impaired performance.

During this period of time it is important that you maintain normal hydration levels, for most people this is around 2 litres of water per day. If you reach the beginning of the cut and have not been hydrating properly your body will try to hold on to the extra water and the cut will not work as well.

Stage 2: Powerlifting Meet Countdown

5 Days

Time to make some changes, now is the time to increase your water intake massively  to between 2-8 litres per day, at the same time we also increase salt intake up to 5 grams per day. Basically you will be drinking all the time and adding salt to everything you eat.

4 Days

With 4 days to go till competition day, your waters, salt and food intake is the same as Day 5

3 Days

By this stage you will be pissing a lot, the body is trying to get rid of all that extra water your consuming. Now it is time to look at food intake, reducing the carbohydrate levels in your diet down to 30-60 grams while keeping your calories high to keep your energy levels up.

2 Days

Today is similar to day 3, Water is still at 8-10 litres, but we now cut salt intake to zero or near zero so the high water intake can start to flush out the extra salt in your system, Carbs are further cut down to 20-50 grams and aiming to eat low volumes of food with high calorie content, Including a liquid meal is a good option at this point in time. Low volume foods and liquid food is important in reducing the weight of food in your gut at weigh in time.

1 Day : The day before weigh in

Water intake in now drastically cut down to 2 litres and completely cut 15 hours before your weigh in. Carbohydrate and salt should be at or near zero. Meals should be very low volume with a high calorie count, Liquid meals and foods which are high in fat are good options at this time. A small last meal should be had 21 hours before weigh in, you will not eat again until after weigh in during the refeed period.

Day of the Meet

At this point in time you should be on or a little under your target weight, if not then there is the last resort “The Sauna”. If you still need to drop weight late on the night before or the morning of weigh in the the sauna can be used to finish the job. A 70 kg lifter can loose approximately 700 grams per hour in the sauna while a much heavier lifter can loose much more eg. 1.2 kg per hour for a 120 kg powerlifter. The more dehydrated you are at this stage the slower the rate of loss.

Refeed

After your weigh in depending on which federation you are lifting in (IPF has a 2 hour window) it is extremely important to refeed. This involves rehydrating with water mixed 50/50 with sports drink and aggressively eating for energy. Start Eating Immediately with only two hour until your first lift there is very little time to replenish your energy levels. Do NOT eat foods that are greatly different than your usual diet. Your stomach is in a fragile state and you want to avoid a case of diarrhoea on the platform.

Weight Cut Timetable
Days Out Water Sodium Glycogen Food Weight Sauna or Hot Bath
Weeks 2 Litres Normal Normal Normal Nil
5 8-10 Litres 5‑grams Normal Normal
4 8-10 Litres 5‑grams Normal Normal
3 8-10 Litres 5‑grams Low Carb Low Volume   High Cal
2 8-10 Litres 0 Keto Low Volume   High Cal
1 2 Litres – Nil 15 hours out Nil Nil Small last meal 21 hours before weigh in Night before or just before weigh in
Meet Rehydrate after weigh in Aggressive Re-feed including Salty Food
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