Discipline is one the toughest challenges for the combat fighter and making weight requires serious strategy and discipline. Pro Combat Fighter, Celine Haga shares her thoughts on making weight to win.
For athletes of other sports or casual readers not as familiar, why do combat sport athletes cut weight?
The main reason why fighters cut weight is to have a weight advantage at the day of competition day. Imagine two guys with the same skill set are competing the one who have more muscle mass going into the fight will most likely have an advantage
What's the toughest challenge fighters face in making weight?
To make the weight safely, the first part of cutting weight is to follow a diet so you avoid losing too much muscle, to maintain healthy and have the energy to get through your fight camp. The last part of the weight cut is mainly water manipulation where the fighter is trying to lose a certain amount of water the last 24 hours (because this is the weight that will be retained the next day.) this part is without a doubt the
toughest challenge and also the most dangerous aspect of weight-cutting.
Ok...how do you do it...where do you start? Strategically how do you decide when and what approach to take...is it when you're considering a specific fight or moving up or down a class?
Usually you see what your walk-around weight is and take in consideration if this is the weight your walk around at while having a good diet, feeling good and healthy- and then you try to look at the weight class that s 10-20 lbs below that weight. It is very individual what to do, you have to find the weight class that allow you to cut weight without affecting your health and performance.
Refueling after a cut is as important as the cut itself. Myself been cutting too much weight and not able to recover which then work against the purpose of cutting. I might have a size advantage but that doesn’t do any good if I'm fatigue .
What are your three top tips for cutting weight?
Try to eat healthy all year around, personally I like a 80:20 where 80% of what I eat is clean and healthy and the other 20 leaves me room to eat whatever. This is helping me avoid big weight gains between camps, and it is easy to modify the diet I usually do into fight diet. I usually just cut down the portion size and probably make it more a 90:20 at that point.
Get a dietician to help you with the diet, do research about the person you are asking for help. So many people claim that they know how to cut weight , and try to give advice because they personally been successfully cutting weight themselves, or taken a 6 weeks nutrition course online . Cutting weight for martial arts is not the same as cutting weight for bodybuilding, and cutting weight while staying healthy and being able to perform at a high level is different than just losing 10 pounds to fit into a summer dress or show off some abs on Instagram.
Make sure you have a plan on how to hydrate /refuel back after a weight-cut, and don’t cut weight by yourself. Have somebody with experience there with you the whole time.
Our friend @rdara is an awesome sports dietician! Reach out to her for all sports nutrition tips!
What is the biggest mistake you've made or seen fighters make in trying to cut weight?
The biggest mistake that I made was trying to cut too much weight in a very short amount of time. I used t o think that the more weight I could cut, the stronger I would be in the fight, but Instead I ended up being fatigued in the fight and having a bad performance. I think the most common mistake that fighters are making, is to compensate lack of skill with cutting more weight, and emphasizing too much on weight and diet instead of putting in time to train hard and get better.
Another mistake people sometimes do is that they think they can eat and drink whatever after they made weight. Drink slowly, replace the electrolytes you lost, don’t try new food and experiment with stuff the day before a fight! Don’t over eat. After the fight you can do whatever.