There’s a whole range of things a fighter can do to give themselves an edge on fight night but probably one of the biggest advantages is for a fighter to be able to compete at a weight several divisions lower than their ‘walk around’ weight, provided they can do so safely and effectively – it doesn’t take a scholar to see the benefits in a natural super middleweight being pitted against a natural welterweight. However, dropping weight in the wrong way or dropping weight when it’s inappropriate to do so, could see the natural super middleweight getting dropped quicker than a criminal getting tasered. Not only that, but the fighter puts himself at serious risk of injury, way over and above the usual risks, or perhaps even worse.
As humans we’re all basically the same, but with just a few tweaks here and there the end product can be very different. A chimpanzee’s DNA is so similar to a human’s DNA that it makes for a 98% match and demonstrates, quite clearly, how a small difference can lead to a big change. A mouse is a 92% match, genetically. One human to another makes for a 100% match but there’s differences in the sequence of the DNA and that’s what gives us variability amongst the human population, and that’s why dropping weight is not as straight-forward as we’d like it to be.
The most sensible thing the majority of fighters can do is to eat a well-balanced diet that consists of five or six small meals spread evenly throughout the day and to ensure a frequent intake of water. This would ensure a steady supply of energy, all the necessary protein, fats, vitamins and minerals required for bodily repair and biochemical function, all supported by a healthy and stable water balance. Under these conditions the fighter can train hard, recover well between work-outs, and perform optimally. As the training progresses towards fight night and steps up in intensity and volume, the extra calories expended as a result of the gradual step-up will inevitably lead to a natural, steady and safe weight loss.
Obviously there’s scope for ‘tweaking’ the plan to allow for the already mentioned individuality. Perhaps the fighter responds well to particular types of food or maybe certain types of exercise, or even specific combinations of both. This is where a good coach can be an enormous help – some coaches who take the time to intimately understand their fighter can get to know a fighter’s body better than the fighter himself, although preparations are still going to take a lot of focus and effort from the fighter too.
Most fighters should avoid ‘crash’ dieting. The word ‘crash’ alone provides for a pretty accurate indicator of what to expect when entering the ring having undergone this method of making weight. With such a dramatic change to the body over such a short space of time is it any surprise to find that the muscles feel about as firm and powerful as North Korea, that your endurance lasts as long as a cheap box of fireworks, and it’s all further compounded by having the resilience of a hippy in a war-zone. There’s also the very real risk that whilst depriving your body of its dietary requirements during hard training, the fine line between peaking and over-training gets quickly crossed and buys you an express ticket to the same destination. All that’s without mentioning the heavy mental toll that crash dieting has too. Any of the aforementioned afflictions is hardly conducive to beating an opponent who’s primed, firing on all cylinders, and is physically and mentally prepared, and able, to go to hell and back to beat you.
Dehydrating prior to weighing-in is another all too common process of trying to make weight. Water’s heavy and most of us are composed of not far off two thirds water, so it’s no surprise that fighters choose to extract some of this water to make weight and to replace it shortly thereafter. It sounds good but the water balance in the human body is a complicated thing, and it usually reacts quite badly to sudden and big changes with wide-ranging implications. Dehydration impacts massively on physical ability and also hugely increases your risk of serious injury, both of which aren’t in much demand for someone looking to win a fight and to go on to fight another day.
So it seems the advantage that most fighters strive for is very much a double-edged sword. That being said, the variability that sets us all apart to some degree or another allows for some individuals to get away with more than others, so the focus would be better placed on knowing yourself rather than just knowing the weight’s got to come off… it’s about ‘weighing it all up’ rather than merely weighing in.
Aticle By Dean Tinklin – Freelance Writer – email firstname.lastname@example.org