I have been in strength sports for the last 6 years of my life. Through those last 6 years I made the decision a handful of times to cut weight for specific contests. My most recent cut was a total of 32 lbs over 7 weeks. Normally when I do this, it will be for a National or World Championship competition. I wouldn’t recommend doing this multiple times throughout the year because there is more to life than chicken breast and broccoli. There are far too many delicious foods out there and they’re begging to be eaten. There are many reasons to want to drop weight, but I’m just going to touch on the reason of being more competitive at a lighter weight class.
The most important thing is that you have to have a plan. Just like training, you have to have some kind of meal plan to refer to on a regular basis. You’re going to be prepping you meals in advance, so you want to have something written down that has quantities of everything. If you’re not sure where to start, hire someone to put the plan together for you. If you’re going to hire someone, make sure they have experience in putting together plans for what you’re trying to achieve. I wanted a performance based meal plan that I could drop roughly 20lbs in 7 weeks. I happen to know someone who has been working with various athletes for years. He doesn’t provide a cookie cutter meal plan, but builds them specifically for the athlete. For these reasons I decided to hire him. We talked about when I was trying to achieve and he went to work on the plan. I wanted something specifically designed to maintain athletic performance and muscle mass while dropping body fat. A short time later he handed me the meal plan and I went to work. Now let me just say, as I looked through the plan I didn’t see pizza listed for any meals. The plan did make complete sense to me though. That’s important too. If it doesn’t make sense to you, do you think it’s something you can follow? A meal plan is worthless if you’re going to cheat on it.
Now let’s fast forward 7 weeks through all the boring chicken, green veggies and egg whites. My final weigh in before the water drop put me at a weight loss of 22 lbs total. That put me within 9 lbs of the goal. Weigh ins began at 10am Friday morning. I had been drinking 2 gallons of water/day for the last 7 weeks. So Wednesday I added another gallon making it 3. Thursday morning I woke up and went through my first meals and water as normal until 10am. At that time I quit drinking and eating everything. I stepped on the scale and I was 193 lbs, I needed to lose 12 lbs in 24 hrs.
At 2pm Thursday afternoon we started our drive from Minneapolis to Indianapolis. At about 10pm my extremely patient and understanding girlfriend and I were too tired to continue driving. We found a delightful motel 6 in Gary, IN and stayed for the night. With bathroom stops and everything in between I lost 7 lbs in that time. 5lbs to go with 12 hrs left. I went to sleep and woke up at 186 lbs. Still 4 lbs to go and 4 hrs left. I decided to slip into a bath and get a good sweat going. After getting out of the tub and packing the car for the rest of the drive, I checked my weight and I was 193 lbs, I needed to lose 12 lbs in 24 hrs.
At 2pm Thursday afternoon we started our drive from Minneapolis to Indianapolis. At about 10pm my extremely patient and understanding girlfriend and I were too tired to continue driving. We found a delightful motel 6 in Gary, IN and stayed for the night. With bathroom stops and everything in between I lost 7 lbs in that time. 5lbs to go with 12 hrs left. I went to sleep and woke up at 186 lbs. Still 4 lbs to go and 4 hrs left. I decided to slip into a bath and get a good sweat going. After getting out of the tub and packing the car for the rest of the drive, I checked my weight and I was sitting at 182.8. 1.8 lbs to go is not bad with a 2 hr drive ahead of me. I was checking my weight on a regular bathroom scale though, so I wanted to be at least 1/2lb under. I decided to put on the sauna suit for the drive. Sauna suits can be bought in a number of places, I got mine at Walmart for around $10. An hour into the drive and what we thought was an hour before weight ins(we forgot about the time change) I stopped at a rest stop and weighed in at 180.8. Perfect. We finished the drive to weigh ins and I stepped of the scale lean and mean at 179.4 lbs. I made weight, but the process wasn’t over.
From starting weight to finish, I lost roughly 7% of my bodyweight in water. Considering dehydration symptoms can start to begin noticeable at a 2% water volume loss, and at 5-6% is when the grogginess, nausea, and tingling limbs can start to set in, I needed to get re-hydrated. I immediately started in with the pedialyte. I also had overnight oats that my amazing girlfriend had ready for me. I pretty much felt like a new man and kept eating small meals and sipping on pedialyte and water. 4 hours after weigh in I was back to my starting weight. The time directly after weigh ins for nutrition is critical. What you eat is very important. After depleting yourself for an entire day(maybe more if you don’t make weight the first time) you’re going to need to refuel. Day old gas station donuts and soda won’t cut it. I opted for some small meals of chicken and sweet potatoes, then pasta for dinner later that night. Rumor has it I also had a slice of pizza, but I was incoherent and in a carb coma so I can’t confirm nor deny that rumor.
There are a few different ways to go about this, what I detailed was just the process I used to give you an idea of where to start from. If you have no idea where to start any of this, specifically the meal plan, I urge you to contact Rollie from TSI. His email is email@example.com and he can put together a custom meal plan for your needs. If you’re new to the water drop process, it would be a good idea to try it before using it to make weight for a contest so you know what to expect and what you’re capable of. If at any time during the water drop you start to feel faint or your heart starts racing, it’s time to stop. Your health and life are far more important than making weight. You also should not attempt this water drop alone. Someone has to be there monitoring you to keep you safe.
Tim Kovach is the United States Strongman Open LW Champion, Minnesota State Rep and International strongman competitor.