A comparison of rapid weight loss practices within grappling and striking combat sports

Gee, Thomas, Campbell, Paul, Bargh, Melissa and Martin, Daniel (2020) A comparison of rapid weight loss practices within grappling and striking combat sports. In: National Strength and Conditioning Association 2020 National Conference.

Gee Combat RWL (2020).pdf

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Purpose: Voluntary rapid weight loss (RWL) is a common practice amongst combat sport competitors to achieve the desired bodyweight for competition weigh-in. This study aimed to compare the RWL practices of combat athletes from Great Britain competing within striking and grappling dominant sports. Methods: Participants (n = 27, age 30.3 ± 6.3; competitive experience 23.0 ± 7.7 years) were recruited via a direct approach at training venues and competitions. The previously validated ‘Rapid Weight Loss Questionnaire’ (RWLQ) (Artioli et al., 2010) was used to establish the prevalence, magnitude and methods of weight making practices across groups. The questionnaire was adapted to include questions on practices of ‘hot water immersion’, ‘hot salt water immersion’ and ‘water loading’. Additionally, further information was gathered to establish post weigh-in bodyweight regain practices pre-competition. Results: From the total sample surveyed, 85% of combat athletes had intentionally acutely lost bodyweight in order to compete, with an average acute bodyweight loss leading into competition of 4.3 ± 3.1 kg. The RWL score for the sample was 28.4 ± 16.7, with striking athletes demonstrating a significantly higher RWL score (39.5 ± 14.9), when compared to grappling athletes (22.0 ± 14.5) (p = 0.006). Striking athletes demonstrated a higher acute pre weigh-in bodyweight loss (6.4 ± 2.9 kg), when compared to grappling athletes (3.1 ± 2.6 kg) (p = 0.006) and re-gained significantly more bodyweight one-week post competition (5.1 ± 3.3 kg vs 2.2 ± 1.8 kg, p = 0.005). For the total sample, frequencies of ‘always’ and ‘sometimes’ for RWL methods used were reported highest for ‘increased exercise more than usual’ (87%), ‘restricting fluid ingestion’ (61%) and ‘skipping one or two meals’ (57%). ‘Hot water immersion’ was commonly used (44%), however only 13% chose to utilise ‘hot salt water immersion’. ‘Water loading’ was used as often as ‘saunas’ (39%). Individuals who were ‘very influential’ and/or offered ‘some influence’ to the weight cutting process were identified as ‘coaches’ (59%) and ‘athletes within the same sport’ (56%), however ‘Nutritionists’ (11%) were of low influence. The majority of participants reported the weight cutting process to begin within two weeks of the competition date (65%). Following weigh-in, 35% used a set routine to regain bodyweight before the start of the competition and only 17% re-weighed themselves again before the start of the competition. Conclusions: The prevalence of RWL within striking and grappling combat athletes is high. Striking athletes demonstrated significantly higher RWL scores, pre-competition bodyweight loss and subsequent bodyweight gain one-week post competition when compared to grappling athletes. RWL methods commonly adopted were increased exercise, fluid restriction and skipping meals, with coaches and other athletes having the most influence on weight cutting practices. The majority of the sample did not adopt a bodyweight regain routine or chose to re-weigh before the competition start. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: By better understanding the different RWL strategies used by each combat discipline, opportunities may arise to develop best practice regarding ‘weight cutting’ procedures across combat sports. It is also of great importance that bodyweight management advice comes from adequately qualified professionals in order to support health and performance pre and post weigh-in.

Keywords:rapid weight loss, performance, combat
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:42199
Deposited On:25 Sep 2020 10:13

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