Professional boxing is unique in that fighters fluctuate in weight greatly throughout their careers. Fighters not only move up or down weight classes but can drop weight for weigh in and then rehydrate back up for fight night. Due to this, some fights may have rehydration clauses so a fighter can’t rehydrate too much within 24 hours.
Let’s look at how to both cut weight and gain weight in a healthy manor. We can also look at what training we should utilize depending on what the fighter is trying to accomplish.
First, let’s look how to be healthy but also cut weight and train for a fight in a lower weight class. Research shows a healthy weight loss is about 1lb per week showed superior performance for a middleweight boxer, compared to 2lbs per week. A boxer should stay within 5-7% of fight weight so that they can easily drop the weight in an eight to ten week camp. A restricted diet and nutrition plan that reduces caloric intake is a must at shedding weight. A fighter must also watch their water weight as it gets closer to weigh in as this can easily increase their pre-fight weight.
Another great tool for fighters is the use of a sauna suit when cutting weight. It can help lose water weight quickly before a weigh in and also warm muscles before heavy training. Sauna suits can help keep muscle memory high during heavy training and be more prepared for the fight. Check out our sauna suits below and take your training/nutrition to the next level.
A diet should consist of lean meats, vegetables, and heathy fats. Make sure not to binge eat once you make weight as well, the body can’t just make up for a 5-8 week change in one meal. Finally, sleep and Maintenance of the body is even more important so energy levels remain high.
A fighter may also fluctuate the type of workouts they do to accommodate how they are eating at the beginning and end of a weight cut/camp. An example is at the beginning of camp you are sparring heavily and often. This will need more carbohydrates to power your body through the intense workouts. While at the end of camp making weight is essential and you need to eliminate carbs and overuse of water. Interval and metabolic training tend to help build muscle better while cutting weight. HIIT and other intense workouts followed by short rests are best during weight cuts. Traditional weight training is also effective in maintaining muscle mass while cutting weight. Lifts such as squats and deadlifts can greatly attribute to strength while losing weight. Building mass while losing fat can be extremely hard to navigate but if done correctly you will make the lower weight and keep your strength.
Next, let’s look at moving up a weight class and what is needed to make this happen. A fighter must not only improve muscle mass but cannot bulk up to the point of being a body builder. They still need to have footwork and hand speed to deliver these heavy handed shots. Ballistic and plyometric exercises can be an effective slow way to build speed and muscle. At the beginning of camp reps for lifting can be normal between 8-12 reps. Once comfortable doing lifts it’s best to do lower reps between 3-6 and more weight to help build muscle. Let’s look at what diet best fits these workouts and muscle building for the heavier weight classes.
Lean proteins will help maintain muscle and have a better thermogenic effect of food. Foods such as chicken, egg whites, fish, and skimmed milk are best. Meals should also be spread out and more than the normal person eats. Some eat small meals up to 6-8 times a day. Another important food group is low-GI carbohydrates. These will help fuel intense sparring sessions and weight training and also build muscle. These include whole grains, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, beans, and wholemeal pasta. If training more than once a day it’s good to include dried fruits, bananas, and sports drinks. With the correct use of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats muscle growth will come without the loss of speed.
Both cutting weight to lower weight classes and gaining weight to move up are a science. Similar in some ways but different in others. The use of training, nutrition, and sleep all play a part in a boxers daily routine. If you are meticulous and well prepared than no matter weight cut or gain you should be on your way to your next weight class.
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