The Pain of Making Weight

By Ross Enamait - Published in 2003

Boxing requires tremendous physical conditioning, mental toughness, and skill. Aside from these obvious qualities, there is a unique side of boxing that differentiates it from most sports. If you are a boxer and reading this article, you know exactly what I am taking about, the dreaded process of making weight.

We've all been there. Working out in plastic suits, eating nothing but egg whites, spitting in a cup, and running twice a day. Boxers not only must be in top condition, they must do so within a certain weight class. Unfortunately, many boxers convince themselves that fighting in a lower weight class will provide an advantage over naturally lighter opponents. While struggling to lose weight, many fighters lose strength and energy as well. As a youngster, I went through the process of drying myself out beyond belief to make weight for several fights.

I had fights where I would jump rope with plastic bags on while chewing gum to generate saliva to spit. I did this on the day of the fight, just hours before the weigh in! In the amateurs, you must weigh in on the day of the fight, whereas pros weigh in the evening before.

In a past interview with former World Champion Wayne McCullough, he spoke of dropping 9 pounds in 3 days to make weight for a title defense. He was victorious, but did not remember anything after the 3rd round. These drastic weight loss stories are common in boxing. Every fighter has a story of losing vast amounts of weight. Outsiders to the sport have a hard time comprehending such rapid weight loss.

Unfortunately, rapid weight loss is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of boxing. The tactics used to cut weight deprive the body of valuable fluids pertinent to normal bodily functions. The few hours between the weigh in and competition is not enough time restore equilibrium within the body.

How does a fighter overcome this problem?

First and foremost, it is essential to maintain a weight that is close to your competition weight. I recommend that you never fluctuate over 5% of your fight weight. For example, suppose you fight at 147 pounds. You should stay at 155 pounds or less. When fight time rolls around, you are already close to the mandatory weight. Micky Ward, who fought at 140 pounds his entire career, once said that the only reason fighters go up in weight is because they do not work as hard as they did when they were younger. His career is evidence of this theory, as he always entered the ring in top shape, and never moved up from 140 pounds.

Dropping down to a lower weight class, does not guarantee an advantage. Often the strength you sacrifice in dropping weight negates any possible benefit that you mentally convince yourself you will have. You would be better off coming into the ring feeling strong, fresh, and fully hydrated at a higher weight class. Entering the ring dehydrated is not only detrimental to performance, it is extremely dangerous. Your risk of injury skyrockets when the body is dehydrated.

Coaches must monitor each fighter’s weight. Too often a boxer will say, "Yeah, my weight is fine" when in fact it is not. A good coach will stay on top of his fighters. He should keep track of each fighter’s weight on a weekly basis, particularly in the weeks leading up to a bout. Boxing is a dangerous sport. Going into a fight dehydrated will not only affect your skill, but can ruin your life.

The best way to make weight is to keep your roadwork consistent and to stay in the gym. This means working out even when you do not have your next fight planned. In addition, science now tells us that it is best to eat several small meals throughout the day, rather than the traditional theory of 3 square meals. It is best to eat 5 to 6 smaller meals. More frequent (smaller) meals will keep your metabolism working throughout the day. This style of eating will also help to maintain a balanced blood sugar level, which equates to a steady stream of energy. When you eat less frequent (larger) meals, you supply large amounts of carbohydrates and glucose at once. Large meals throw blood sugar levels off with drastic ups and downs.

Eat frequent, moderately sized meals. At first, you may believe that more frequent eating means more weight, but the opposite is true. Plan your meals based on the activities you expect. For example, if you are going to workout at 3PM, eat complex carbohydrates a few hours before. If you are getting ready to go to bed, you will not need energy, so limit your carbohydrate intake. It is a good idea to not eat any food an hour before bedtime, so you have time to use your calories. Also, keep your water intake consistent throughout the day.

Keep yourself in the gym so you won't need to battle the scales.

If you are forced to dry out, consider a rehydration formula. Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes Powder is one of the better products available for rehydration.

About the Author - Ross Enamait is an innovative athlete and trainer, whose training style is among the most intense that you will find. Ross is committed to excellence and advancements in high performance conditioning and functional strength development. He has a sincere interest in helping today's athlete in their quest for greatness.

Ross has authored several comprehensive training manuals, designed for athletes participating in combat sports such as boxing, wrestling, and MMA.

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