Cutting Weight | Teen Ink

Cutting Weight MAG

By Anonymous

His heart races to the sound of the clock ticking in the background. Twenty more seconds and he has this match won. All he needs to do is hold on. His opponent meets his eyes with a look of defeat. Thump, thump … 15 … 14 … the clock ticks down the final seconds. The wrestler thinks of the final 40 minutes he ran to shed that extra half pound. A match easily won. Then he’s thrust into the air and, dumbfounded, he finds himself on the mat. The ­referee pounds his hand on the ground and he’s down for the count in a ­moment of weakness. The defeated wrestler watches his opponent raise his arm with the grin of a champion.

Wrestling requires blood, sweat, and tears, in addition to dedication and pure passion. As many wrestlers know, the preceeding story is more than a haunting tale: it’s a fear that fuels their drive to put more effort into becoming the best. Many wrestlers go to extremes to become champions, and they are recognized for their ability to drastically lose weight, known as “cutting.” Many of these pound-dropping skills aren’t just dangerous but also can be fatal, which is why wrestlers should not cut weight in the first place.

With 81 percent of wrestlers cutting weight, there are many unique methods to achieve the task. Some are ridiculous – myths of athletes shedding as many as 20 pounds in one night have been passed around the wrestling community. Wrestlers will go days drinking only a few sips of water and eating just a piece of fruit each day. Ultimately, the calories they burn during practice will be more than they’ve consumed in two days.

Not eating for that long takes a toll on the body. Wrestlers dream of food, yet many won’t eat for fear that they’ll exceed the limit of their weight class. Consequently, they account for three-quarters of male athletes with eating disorders. Eating disorders claim 300,000 lives a year. Weight cutting can lead to death.

In 1997, three college wrestlers made national headlines, dying within 33 days of each other. Coming from Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, these dedicated athletes died from the same cause: weight cutting. In all three cases, the students experienced dehydration resulting in hypothermia after they layered on clothes and did endless workouts in heated rooms. Unfortunately, they out-worked their bodies. The perspiration they produced cooled them to the point of hypothermia resulting in heart attacks and kidney failure, all common effects of extreme weight cutting.

Following these deaths, the NCAA took steps to make wrestling safer by banning cutting techniques such as training in a room hotter than 80 ­degrees, self-induced vomiting, and extensive food or fluid restrictions. Following the actions of the NCAA, even high schools have taken precautions. The NCAA requires wrestlers to take hydration tests, checks their body fat, and restricts the amount of weight they can lose. But it’s not enough; ­unscrupulous coaches will turn their heads, and some wrestlers will overlook the rules, risking their lives for their favorite sport.

Wrestlers push themselves to the limit to make weight. These athletes seek to make themselves the biggest competitor in the smallest weight class possible. This goal taunts wrestlers to cut more and more. ­Although rules have been enforced, if wrestlers are going to be protected, officials need to banish weight cutting altogether.

Risking so much for such short-lived glory is absurd. Cutting weight is unhealthy and can lead to serious complications. Athletes must be more aware of these dangers – and listen to their bodies.

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This article has 125 comments.

krautJrr512 said...
on Oct. 20 2014 at 11:23 am
i agree who ever wrote this we do take many riskes but all of these people are wrestlers and we do this and we love what we do we wrestlers arnt stupid we wont take that high of riskes   

on Apr. 25 2013 at 11:24 am
Claire_baller PLATINUM, Platteville, Wisconsin
40 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have left.
I Don't need easy, I just need possible.
10% luck 20% skill 15% concentrated power of will 5% pleasure 15% game and 100% reason to remember the name!

run for at least two to three miles a day and try to keep a steady pace of 6mph. Streach for 30 to 45 minutes it acctually burns a lot of calories. Get your friends to go with you. It's waaaaay more fun that way and you can push eachother. Listen to music too it gets your modivation on!

on Jan. 14 2013 at 11:35 am
whoever the person that wrote this obviosly doesnt know anything about cutting weight.

Kid14 said...
on Dec. 5 2012 at 6:00 pm
Kid14, Fort Belvoir, Virginia
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's wrestling were the weak become strong and the strong become champions."

brah its not that hard eat small postions of food and hydrate with water  

nwrestler113 said...
on Sep. 28 2012 at 10:44 am
Whats the best way for me to cut down to 113 from 129 pounds in the next 3 weeks and be able to maintain it until jan 2013 until we get a 2 pounds allowence... can anyone help me with any ideas?

lose weight said...
on Jul. 25 2012 at 7:37 am
as long as its done safely, that was good

on Jun. 20 2012 at 3:02 pm

Why in the world would your Coach have you cut for Volleyball??


Brooke Munch said...
on Apr. 17 2012 at 10:43 pm
Brooke Munch, Loma, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I'm not really a wrestling fan... but i clicked on this because i live in Loma too! Good articlel though! :)

Know2Win said...
on Mar. 18 2012 at 11:46 am
It's all about setting your goal early and making progress little by little to get there. It's like trying to cram the night before a big final exam, doesn't work out well if you just opened the book the night before the test. Same thing applies to cutting weight and practicing to "pass the test" in wreslting. Before the season started I set my goal for the state finals match at 135lbs, a had a plan on how to get there and most importantly how to stay heathy enough to win. Pre-season starting weight was 176lbs, weighed in at 133.8 lbs for the state tournament. First, cut out all unessessary added sugar (soda, sweet tea, etc) and switch to drinking only water. Next, eat smaller portions, eat to live not live to should not feel satisfied after each meal, but you should be good enough to focus in class, etc. As the season develops you should settle into new tiers of weight classes to allow your body to adjust for a few weeks; I went from starting in pre-season tournament weight classes at 152 lbs, then 145 at beginning of the season, about a month later settled into natural break point was at about 141lbs (the point where natural weight loss measures are no longer showing results. This is where it can get really tough, having a body fat percentage of 3-5% doesn;t allow for much weight loss. In the later half of the season, I incorporated more cardio throughout the day...morning jog 3-5 miles/1 egg for breakfast, mid-day workout (dumbells and pull workouts in school weight room) quick small slice of break with a tiny bit of peanut butter, 3 hour wreslting practice, 1/4 chicken breast for dinner, followed by a 3 mile jog and stretching to end off the day. I reached my goal and clenched the 135lb state championship title, by the next morning gained 14lbs by eating and drinking normally. The trick is in finding the balance staying heathy, family life, school, and then winning (in that order). Cutting weight is not at all a pleasant experience but is amazing how it teaches you control over your body and is an unforgettable experience of reaching your goals. 

nmsatc said...
on Jan. 11 2012 at 4:01 pm
Do you have an Athletic Trainer at your school? Maybe you can talk with the ATC and they, in turn, can speak to the coach. I work as an Athletic Trainer at a high school and am an advocate for my athletes. I have no problem standing up to my "pigheaded" coaches. I have had too many of my wrestlers be carted off in ambulances as a result of cutting weight. It is frightening to read the comments that state short term cutting weight is not an issue or a big deal. IF you do this constantly every year for a season or more, it BECOMES a long term issue. When you cut weight that quickly, you are losing mostly muscle mass. In order for your body to fuel itself, since it is being deprived of nutrients, it begins breaking down skeletal muscle. Also, one very important muscle, your heart! Unlike skeletal muscle, your heart can not repair itself. Damaged heart muscle leads to sudden death and a cascade of other health problems as a result. I know this may sound extreme, but you need to aware of the very real realities! It is VERY easy to be short sighted when you are a teenager, but you need to understand the very real possibilities of setting yourself up for long term health problems or worse, death for a fleeting moment. Think about it. Is it really worth it?

jswider1 said...
on Jan. 10 2012 at 9:15 pm
I am a sophmore in high school. My average weight is 115 my minimum weight is 105. The weight class i have to get to is 106. I made it once by starving, and dehydration, I came so close to passing out. I won my tournament ,but threw up after each match. I'm actually stuck I am terrified I don't want to get yelled at by my pig-headed coach. I don't think i can make it again. Like I said I was able to stay at 110 for a while now ,but on Saturday we have another meet. I am really scared ,because my coach is intimidating. I don't know what to do. I'm a growing teenager who plows through food. My parents hate that recently I have not been eating. Please Help ME!!!!!!

Lace21311 said...
on Dec. 13 2011 at 12:24 pm
What really bothers me the most about this article is near the end when the author says that doing something as extreme as cutting weight for short lived glory is absurd. I'm a weightlifter, a cross country and track runner, and a tennis player. I also cut weight. I don't cut weight for "short lived glory" I cut so that I can be the best that I can be. I want to make the most out of myself in these sports that I can. I think that cutting weight can show dedication, this isn't just something that I'm doing just to do. I'm going to sstick with weightlifting for as long as my body is able to, and I'm not doing anything for anyone but myself, and my own happiness.

lil 70 said...
on Dec. 7 2011 at 9:34 am
all you have to do is work hard you dont have to cut weight. i cut weight for 13 years and its my senior year now and i wrestle 10xs better not cutting weight you just have to work hard.

Saints126 said...
on Dec. 5 2011 at 12:12 am
I went from 156 to 125 last year in 2 weeks. i hated it but i didnt die or suffer any fatal consequnces. even if you are cutting the "wrong way" you can still do it without dying or harming yourself. i went from winning only 2 maches in 10th grade to winning about 25. if you love the sport and want to be good you almost have to cut unless you are insanely stronger than everyone else at your natural weight

170 stud said...
on Dec. 2 2011 at 10:45 am
i agree with this guy i came from 200 to 170 im kicking butt right and left this was a good artical but its all about want to

on Nov. 18 2011 at 6:20 pm
Olivia.297 BRONZE, Orillia, Other
1 article 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
Ever notice how you never see me and superman at the same time?

excuse me but i thought this article was very well written. everyone is entitled to their own opinions, you dont need to be harsh about it though 


189lbpitbull said...
on Nov. 10 2011 at 9:29 am
Wrestling in High-School is a serious time for athletes. We do what we have to, whether it be jumping rope in a dry-sauna or puking our brains out the morning of a tournament. You do what you have to do to win. Sacrifice+Hardwork=Dedication. Everyone knows, dedication=championships.

on Nov. 2 2011 at 10:11 pm

Ok, the stats are off like people have written - 300,000 deaths a year are not caused by weight cutting - lets make that clear.

Cutting weight is really the control you have over the people that you wrestle. Body fat % has a lot to do with it, since a person that weighs the same as you (say 130) could be five inches shorter and much stronger with less body fat. By lowering your body fat and getting to your lowest possible percentage (7% in high school, 5% in college) you stand the best possible chance to win your match based on numbers.

A kid that weighs 170 lbs could drop 20 lbs and be healthier, if the cutting was done through working out and nutrition. The 7% body fat is the healthy minimum, so a 170 lb kid with 20% body fat would be much healthier at say 150.

This is basically an argument against the people that are saying the cutting weight is always unhealthy and leads to death. Death is a possibility, but you have to remember that these were in college athletes.

Personally I cut from 130 to 119 last season, losing 11 lbs in 2 days. I did it the wrong way, and had to go 125 for the rest of the season. To an outside person 5 lbs might not seem like a lot, but that 5 lbs is usually pure muscle - which can over power you (not to say that wrestling is all muscle, the best wrestlers have very good technique).

The point is that cutting weight is part of wrestling just as shooting 100 free throws after basketball practice is. The 7% body fat is the healthy minimum for high schoolers (generally, as recognized by schools nationwide).


This year I am cutting from 9.2% body fat to 5-7%. I'm going from 130 lbs to 120 (since the weight classes change this year) and I am doing it through cardio workouts and nutrition. That means 5 days a week working out (plus 4 days a week of pre season wrestling) and eating 6 small meals a day of low calorie highly nutritious foods (nuts, fruit, veggies, etc.)

Water weight is what is "cut" from a wrestlers body when they lose drastic amounts of weight with 48 hours. This is not the way to do it - unless you need that 1-2 pounds cut the night before. Generally your body loses 1 pound a night from burning calories, so the night before a weigh in I will only need to weigh about 122-123 and I will be fine to weigh in at 120. You do not maintain the 120 weight, during the week I will peak at about 125.

Its all about being careful and having discipline, even though I lost 10 lbs in 24 hours last season, I was still able to wrestle and did not pass out in practice.


AlaskanWolf said...
on Oct. 14 2011 at 12:37 pm
This article is a travesty to writing in the younger generation. I sincerely hope that this was not written by a high school student.

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on Oct. 13 2011 at 2:16 pm
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