Weight Cutting in Youth thru High School Wrestling
I gear my Blogs towards the Parents of young wrestlers and wrestlers who may be new to wrestling. In this one , we are going to go in on a topic that can be a bit controversial in the wrestling world. What is cutting weight? People get this term confused at times and refer to this as anything from getting in shape , losing weight to cutting water out of your body before the weigh in of a competition. Im going to break this blog into 2 parts. First lets talk about cutting weight for youth tournaments and then we will get into cutting weight for High School competition. My view on cutting weight for Youth tournaments is DO NOT DO IT!! I think it is very important for kids to compete and compete year round to some degree in tournaments to get better. Some parents and kids will get wrapped up in winning to a point where they want every advantage they can get to win in tournaments , especially the bigger ones. For your youth wrestler , what you should be focusing on is their development. Developing a high level athlete is not a sprint, it is a marathon. They do not have to be the best from day 1 all the way thru. They simply have to improve on their way to the top. Ive seen many young high level wrestlers quit because the pressure on them to win was too much. When it comes to a child competing and gaining an advantage, cutting weight should not be one of them.Your wrestler should be in good shape though. If they are huffing and puffing in a match , overweight for their age/size then I would absolutely suggest getting them more exercise and on a healthier diet to improve their wrestling. If a young wrestler is already in great shape then you should not be asking them to lose weight to make a particular weight class in a tournament .They should not be running on a treadmill or dieting to weigh in for their next tournament . No college coach will ask for your youth wrestling resume during recruitment. Let them wrestle where they are and get good tough competition. Win or lose they are preparing themselves for High school and national level competition later in life.
Cutting Weight in High School. Like I mentioned earlier in the post when I refer to cutting weight , it would be losing weight once you are already in shape to weigh in for a particular event. In high school you have weight certifications at the beginning of the season which are great for some because they let you know where you should be competing in regards to what you weigh. If you Cert for 130lbs and you weigh 170lbs , you should probably cut out the oreo's and ice cream. If you weigh 160 and are planning to compete at 190 , you may want to rethink that strategy as you will be small compared to your competitors. You should weigh close to whatever is suggested at that weight cert. So what is cutting weight? If you are in the overweight category or not in shape, this does not pertain to you. You are not cutting weight, you are simply getting in shape. We are talking about the wrestlers who are in good shape and yet still want to lose weight or body mass to weigh in and compete at a lower weight to gain an advantage.With my high schoolers, I usually ask them all about a month before certs what they weigh and what weight class they plan to wrestle in. If they tell me they weigh 123lbs in good shape and they plan to wrestle in the 120lb weight class, I say thats a great plan. If they tell me they want to compete at 126lbs, I say put a little muscle on ,if they tell me 132lbs I tell them thats a bad idea. So what happens when they tell me 99lbs? This is the stuff , we want to avoid . I never suggest a kid go more than 1 weight class below where they are naturally weighing. The kids who come up with this idea are usually ones trying to do well or win the state tournament. They think they will be the biggest one at that weight or that particular weight class might be weak that year giving them a shot to win. But what they don't realize is what kind of shape they will be in physically and mentally after having to starve their bodies for 4 months to get to that tournament. When my oldest son was in 7'th grade he faced a very good wrestler who did just that. he was weighing 123 in the offseason and dieted down and cut weight to get to 99lbs that season. The kid coasted thru the season and won sectionals however when he got to the state tournament , he did not do well. He was mentally broken , worn out from having to run all season to keep the weight off and had no strength. At the higher levels of competition , you need those things.
If you are or have a wrestler in good shape then I would recommend dropping no more than on average 5-9lbs to make a weigh in depending on your weight. If your a 99lber then it would be closer to 5lbs , If you weigh closer to 150lbs or heavier then you may be able to cut more like 9lbs safely without draining your body. During the high school season you do not want to sway too much from your competition weight because you have to weigh in 1-3 times each week. You do not want your weight jumping up and down because over the season this will wear you down. The weight you may put back on after a weigh in will not outweigh the energy and strength your opponent has who did not put himself thru the weight cut you have.
Ok, so how is it done? Im not an expert on nutrition and I am not going to give you some perfect scientific answer on how to lose 5.2lbs over 22.3 hours by consuming exactly 144 calories and Macros. Im going to give you a rough idea of how I have had wrestlers cut the weight. Like I said , you should only be dropping 5-9lbs for a weigh in. Lets say your tournament is on Saturday morning. We would start our cut on Thursday night. For dinner we would consume something light that will pass thru your digestive system quickly. Grilled chicken or fish or eggs for protein something like apples or applesauce , salad along with it and plenty of water. Water is important and you should be only drinking water thru the season. No soda, juice, sports drinks etc on the regular . Friday is going to go much like Thursday nights dinner , Ill have my guys do eggs or chicken along with something like applesauce up until 5pm. We will do a hard practice that night and between sweating , floating weight over night and not eating the guys generally lose between 6-8lbs of weight by weigh ins the next morning . After my guys weigh in, I tell them to have a peanut butter and Jelly sandwich and sip on a pedialite. They aren't going hungry or starving themselves. They aren't sitting on a treadmill for miles. They are simply eating smart and timing things correctly to make weight at that time. Again, this is not a diet plan and it is just a rough idea of how it can be done. If you are just starting out in the sport of wrestling this can be a mystery and you may hear horror stories of how so and so had to do all these crazy things to make weight. If They are doing something kind of crazy to make weight , they are doing something wrong.
To wrap this up, wrestling is a tough sport. It is probably the most physically demanding sport there is and you must be in top shape to win at the higher levels. The margins for error are small. Weight does become an issue but you must understand the bodies limits. Your body will only perform as well as you treat it. You cannot eat garbage , get fat and then lose weight quickly and expect to perform well. Eat smart, stay in shape and keep your weight cut to a minimum.
Head Coach/ Lions Den