For my first powerlifting meet, the biggest fear was not making weight. On the flip side, if the cut was too drastic, it could destroy my performance on the platform.. For USAPL competitions, you have a 2 hour weigh-in, which means drastic weight-cutting methods can significantly affect your performance on the platform.
My personal plan is a fusion of select methods from Powerliftingtowin, Chelsea Lifts, and RTS Coaching Call. Each video was extremely helpful, but in the end I crafted my own plan that incorporates just the parts I was comfortable with – I recommend you do the same!
Disclaimer: This is not a sustainable way to lose weight (or fat for that matter). I only recommend these tactics if you’re aiming to be competitive in a weight-class sport.
In the scatter plot below, you’ll see how my weight actually changed over the different periods. The colored horizontal bars are correlated with the colored table sections above. As you can see, I usually hover right around 135 lbs normally and didn’t start any changes until 5 days out.
At the end of the red water loading period (drinking 2.5 gallons / day), my weight was extremely high: 143.6 lbs before bed. I have to admit I was panicking, but as I later found out, that’s supposed to happen. The magic really happens in those last 48 hours – see the graph below for a closer look. When I woke up the next day, I weighed exactly 133.6 lbs – I had lost 10 lbs of water weight overnight just from urinating and breathing. Homeostasis has a time lag, so your body maintains an accelerated rate of urination when you completely cut water out 15 hours before competition. Additionally, you’ll notice that sodium is cut out one day before water is cut out – this different timing manipulates water retention hormones to line up nicely with the effects of completely cutting out water. When I say completely, I mean that I wouldn’t even touch water – I didn’t brush my teeth, shower, or use the sink. I don’t know if you have to go that far, but like I said, I was terrified of not making weight.
If you look at the first graph, there were other things that helped along the way too. Caffeine pills and lemons are diuretics. Sucking on warheads facilitates spitting. If you notice, I was actually overweight when I woke up on the day of the competition. A combination of warhead spitting and a bowel movement allowed me to drop over 3 lbs in less than three hours (the bowel movement probably gets the most credit there).
After you weigh-in, definitely be sure to replenish glycogen and electrolytes – see my piece on meet day advice.
I know the your first water load and cut is tough and can seem like a huge unkown, so let me know if you have any questions down in the comments below! I’m not going to tell you “don’t worry about it” – it was worrisome when I cut the first time and it’s going to be worrisome for you too. However, I can tell you that after you do it once, it’s not something that weighs on your mind at all. I’m about to compete again in two weeks, and water loading is the last of my concerns.