Cutting Weight For Competitive Powerlifting!
Let me preface the following article by saying this:
Unless you have a real shot at placing in the division below, or are going to be breaking a record, you have no place cutting. None. Stop reading now. Move onto another of our articles, and focus more on technical proficiency and getting stronger.
Ok, so for the rest of you, read on.
For many reasons, cutting weight can have a HUGE strategical advantage in powerlifting, but mostly becuase it allows you to potentially be the biggest, juiciest, most jacked & tanned lifter of your class…… Therefore giving you the best chance at beating your competition.
The protocol I use to cut, and re-feed my lifters is fairly similar for men and women, only the quantities in the food and liquids really vary.
For this article, I will use a 105kg guy wanting to compete in the 90kg class as our example athlete.
20 weeks out from a meet, we pick and commit to a weight class, in this case, the 90kg class.
We do this because by 12-15 weeks out I need the athlete to be at a weight where I can safely and effectively manage the cut. I NEVER want my lifters trying to drop weight while I am trying to make them BRUTALLY strong.
So at 20 weeks out we tighten up his diet, up his training volume, and possibly add in some conditioning work to increase his work capacity and burn a extra calories. Over the next 5-8 weeks we would aim to be sitting at ~98kg.
12 weeks out from our meet, his body weight is where I need it, and the workload now shifts to intense, powerlifting specific programming, eating only enough to hold his weight and recover effectively from sessions.
1 week out from a weigh in, my lifters work load reduces significantly. With generally only having 1 or 2 bench sessions left to complete, the need for energy and recovery is reduced.
This lifter will drop all carbs, and increase fats and proteins to keep total calories about the same.
Having a lifter who is 98kg a week out from weigh in, and is aiming for the 90kg class will need to do some water loading.
Water loading flushes the minerals from your body that are responsible for water retention, and keeping you hydrated. This is good, because when we stop drinking water, you will excrete most of your fluid and become dehydrated.
A lifter at 98kg will generally be water loading on 8-10L of water each day, as well as adding a few grams of sodium. 48 hours from weigh in, all sodium and water loading stops.
48 hours before weigh in, food and fluid restrictions are in place and monitored closely depending on where the lifter is at.
18-24 hours before weigh in, I check the athletes weight as that information is vital in the re-feed later on. He now weighs 93.5kg. A loss of 4.5kg.
I still need to drop some extra kilos off this lifter, so hot baths start now. The baths need to be very hot, and he needs to submerge his entire body. Normally “5 in 5 out” works well and is good for a loss of a few hundred grams each time. He must towel himself off immediately when he gets out. Hot baths are a very comfortable and effective way to increase water loss. This lifter will not go to bed until he is within 1.5kg of his class weight.
The night of weigh in we are still 1.5kg over, so he should sleep in an air conditioned room, at its coldest setting, wearing as little as possible.
This forces the the human body to create heat through thermoregulation, and as a result considerable water vapor can be lost. We have seen a result of 1.1kg on this lifter.
The morning of weigh in he will check his weight, and we are still 400g over. We will cut the last few hundred grams with another couple of hot baths.
Done. My lifter has made weight, and he did it with no sauna, and he feels the best he ever has with a cut this big!
Now that he has made weight, the most important part of the process begins; The re-feed.
This part of the process is important. very important. Actually, its critical.
If you get this part wrong, you may as well not even cut. Get this part wrong and you are going to be weak, and at a much higher risk of injury.
For those that have cut weight for comps before………… How good does it feel to get off the scales and down 1L of Gatorade, 1L of water, a box of pop-tarts and some freshly baked brownies??
Feels good at the time, but guess what? You have just made A SERIOUS ERROR.
All that sweet, sweet sugar (or “carbs” as you will call it to justify your indulgence) you have just eaten is going to be working against you as you try to re-hydrate. The kidneys response to elevated blood sugar levels is to excrete excess glucose through urine, so now your pissing like a racehorse. Not to mention the fact you’re bloated from all the sugar and 2L of fluid sloshing around in your gut, you’re not going to feel like eating for another 5 hours.
Our now 90kg lifter is going to re-feed with EXACTLY what I tell him, in ONLY the quantities that I tell him. The quantities vary from person to person, but the structure is ALWAYS the same.
They eat NO sugar. They DON’T cram in as much food as possible. They alternate between meal 1 and meal 2, every hour on the hour.
What is meal 1 and meal 2? For our example lifter, the meals will look like:
White rice (150g)
Chicken breast (100g)
Small bag of chips
White rice (350g)
1 – 1hr prior to weigh in, 50ml water + 1-3tbsp glycerol (this step is optional).
2 – Step off scales.
3 – Meal 1 + multi vitamins + Hydrolite
4 – Meal 2
5 – Meal 1
6 – Meal 2
7 – Meal 1 + 50g
8 – Meal 2 +50g
9 – Light training
10 – Meal 1 +100g
11 – Meal 2 +100g
12 – Meal 1 + AMR(with your fork)AP
This is the technique I commonly use with my lifters, and we have found it to work really, really well.
At the recent GPC Spring cup, I cut a client from 79.5kg to 74.5kg, then re-fed all the way up to 81kg; that’s 2kg heavier than he was for his entire prep. If he had of gained an extra 1.6kg, he would have been competing 2 weight classes below where he technically should have been…. A monstrous advantage.
This was the first time this client sought help from me for a cut, and here is what he had to say about the whole process.
This was my third cut (the first two done via google) and easily the best I felt…
…woke up and weighed in feeling good, didn’t have a mouth that felt like cotton or headaches like I did the last time……
……Woke up at 81 on my scales which was 2kg above my pre cut weight. Didn’t feel like i had any strength issues at all on the day. I added 77.5kg PB to my total….
If you would like help cutting for your next meet, or a training plan/coaching package to get you as strong as possible, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. We accept lifters of all levels and back grounds, as long as you want to be the strongest version of yourself possible.
For more information on how we can help build you into a champion, drop into PTC Brisbane, or shoot us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Until the next one,
Head Powerlifting Coach