A comparison of rapid weight loss practices within regional, national and international powerlifters

Gee, Thomas, Campbell, Paul, Bargh, Melissa and Martin, Daniel (2020) A comparison of rapid weight loss practices within regional, national and international powerlifters. In: National Strength and Conditioning Association 2020 National Conference.

Gee 2020 NSCA RWL Powerlifters.pdf
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Purpose: Rapid weight loss (RWL) strategies are common practice amongst strength sport athletes, in order to ‘make weight’ for a chosen bodyweight class. The aim of this study was to compare the rapid weight loss practices of International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) Powerlifters from Great Britain competing at regional, national and international level. Methods: Participants (n = 51, of which male = 33, female = 18, age; 30.2 ± 8.0; competitive experience; 6.2 ± 6.6 years) were recruited from both Equipped and Classic category IPF lifting populations (mandatory two hour competition weigh-in) via a direct approach at training venues and competitions. Participants were categorised and grouped based on their highest level of competition within the previous 12 months (Regional = 15, National = 19, International = 17). The previously validated Rapid Weight Loss Questionnaire (RWLQ) (Artioli et al., 2010) was used to establish the common weight making practices and the magnitude of RWL across groups. The questionnaire was adapted to include questions on practices of ‘hot water immersion’, ‘hot salt water immersion’ and ‘water loading’. Results: Of total responses, 96% of participants surveyed had previously purposely acutely reduced bodyweight to compete, with an average acute bodyweight loss leading into competition of 3.4 ± 2.1 kg. International competitors demonstrated a lower habitual bodyweight loss (2.1 ± 1.2 kg) when compared to regional (4.5 ± 2.5 kg, p = 0.001) and national (3.7 ± 1.8 kg, p = 0.03). One-week post competition, regional (4.2 ± 2.7 kg) and national (3.6 ± 1.8 kg) competitors re-gained more bodyweight (p < 0.05) than international (1.9 ± 1.3 kg). The RWL score for the sample was 23.8 ± 9.5. There was no significant difference in RWL score across groups (p > 0.05), however, there was a tendency for higher RWL scores for regional (24.2 ± 9.4, d = 0.43) and national (26.6 ± 10.3, d = 0.66) when compared to international (20.5 ± 7.9). The most common time allocated to cut bodyweight before competition was 0-7 days (47%), followed by 8-14 days (35%), then 15 days and over (18%). For RWL methods used, frequencies of ‘always’ and ‘sometimes’ were reported highest for ‘fluid restriction’ (88%), ‘water loading’ (63%) and ‘skipping one or two meals’ (49%). ‘Saunas’ (22%) and ‘hot salt water immersion’ (20%) were used less frequently. Individuals who were ‘very influential’ and/or offered ‘some influence’ to weight loss practices were athletes within the same sport (65%), coaches (56%) and internet sources (50%). Conclusions: The prevalence of RWL is high amongst competitive Powerlifters across regional, national and international levels. Regional and national level competitors demonstrated a significantly higher pre-competition bodyweight loss and subsequent bodyweight gain one week post competition. RWL methods commonly adopted were fluid restriction, water loading and skipping one or two meals. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Regional and national standard Powerlifters should consider if cutting weight to meet a specific bodyweight category is benefiting their performance since international competitors were shown to reduce bodyweight pre-competition to a smaller extent. Additionally, gaining nutritional advice from an appropriately certified professional may support bodyweight management post competition and prevent large weight cuts leading into future competitions.

Keywords:rapid weight loss, powerlifters, performance
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:42198
Deposited On:25 Sep 2020 10:14

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