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The Start of Wrestling Season – How to Manage Your Weight

October 14, 2021
View of side weight room containing weights, exercise balls, and a fountain

Managing your weight is a tough for athletes, they often feel that their weight is a key indicator for how in shape their body feels. In the sport of wrestling, weight management is a huge factor. Coaches place the responsibility on their wrestlers to make weight before the season starts and throughout the season. On November 1st, each high school in the state of South Carolina will be able to start their training and conditioning for winter sports which includes basketball and wrestling. In 2016, the American College of Sports Medicine published an article on "Weight Loss in Wrestlers" which provided the following recommendations:

  • Educate coaches and wrestlers about the adverse consequences of prolonged fasting and dehydration on physical performance and physical health.
  • Discourage the use of rubber suits, steam rooms, hot boxes, saunas, laxatives, and diuretics from cutting weight. All of which are prohibit by the NCAA and state high school associations.
  • Adopt new state or national governingbody legislation that schedules weigh-ins immediately prior to competition.
  • Schedule daily weigh-ins before and after practice to monitor weight loss and dehydration; weight loss during practice should be regained through adequate food and fluid intake.
  • Assess the body composition of each wrestler prior to the season using valid methods for this population; at the time of body composition testing, wrestlers should first be tested to ensure they are normally hydrated. Testing urine for specific gravity can be used with ≤1.020 indicating proper hydration.

If a wrestler dose not cut weight safely, the wrestler could suffer from dehydration, feel tired or groggy, and potentially experience brain swelling.

Here are some tips that wrestlers can used to cut weight safely:

  • Start Slow – Aim to lose 1 or 2 pounds per week.
  • Stay Hydrated – Try to avoid caffeinated drinks and drink water 10 to 15 minutes while you are working out
  • Eat less fat and eat more frequently during the day – This can help you curb your hunger and increase your metabolism.
  • Rest and Go to Sleep – Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep. The wrestler should have some time to rest after they have worked out so they can go to sleep and let their body recuperate.
  • Maintain their strength – so continue to lift weights.

If the wrestler wants to gain weight, they should increase their caloric intake. Keeping a food journal will help the athlete keep track of how much calories they are consuming per day. The wrestler trying to gain weight should be committed to consuming a large, but balanced, meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with healthy snacks in between. Wrestlers should also lift weights 3-4 times a week to keep up with their muscle mass.

There are lots of other tips and recommendations on this topic, always follow those that are based on updated research and evidenced based practice to prevent wrestlers from harming themselves. We hope that all wrestlers follow these recommendations in order for them to have a successful season and career.

About the Author

Marlin Browns
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

Keywords: Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine