How to Cut Weight WITHOUT Destroying Your Body – Garage Strength

How to Cut Weight WITHOUT Destroying Your Body


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How to Cut Weight WITHOUT Destroying Your Body

Wrestlers are notorious for wanting to cut absurd amounts of weight. It is one of those things that is still prevalent from the old-school wrestling days. In everybody’s mind, people believe that cutting 20 lbs will still hold the strength of the upper weight class. Now we’re not saying it can’t be done, but it definitely has to be done with a ton of big brain intelligence.

There are a couple of different factors that have to be considered.


What is the best way to cut weight and not lose all that strength? How do we lose 20 lbs and not end up emaciated? How do we lose 20 lbs and maintain high levels of energy?

Initially, we have to understand that cutting weight has to be done over a 6 to 8-week time frame. And really, we don’t want to drop more than 4% of our body weight. Dropping more than 4% will create a huge detriment to performance. There is a lot of research out there supporting this claim.

Now if cutting takes place and needs to be done in a week, we have to think of some key nutritional factors that will lead to a rapid weight loss but not hinder performance.

Cut Calories

It has to be done.

The seesaw of calories in and calories out requires burning more calories than are consumed. This will lead to losing weight. In all reality, it comes down to calories in and calories out.

Some really quick tricks, go really low carb for two to three days. In the short-term phase, cutting carbs will lead to losing a decent amount of water weight. Couple this with decreasing calories will lead to weight loss. But now, we have to maintain a higher protein intake. Typically if we get 35-40% of our caloric intake from protein, when we are cutting weight and carbs and calorie intake, we need to boost our protein intake up around 45-50% of our caloric intake.

We have to think about calories in and calories out as well as muscle protein synthesis vers muscle protein degradation. Higher protein intake while losing weight will likely keep degradation lower.

We also have to keep our sleep patterns in line with how much weight needs to be lost. Trying to lose more weight requires more sleep. Wrestlers’ grades plummet during the season because all they are thinking about is weight loss. They need to be thinking about performance, happiness, sleeping, good grades, social life, and being healthy while competing at a high level. Regardless, wrestlers need to sleep more while cutting weight for wrestling.

With all that said, let’s look at some exercises that will help wrestlers gain strength while cutting weight.

On The Minute Clean

Using a clock, an athlete hits a clean and then drops the weight. That is when the timer starts. Sixty seconds later the weight is hit again. The reps in each set can be singles or doubles or triples. We recommend that if the reps are cut to the lower end, try to shorten the rest to 40 or 45 seconds instead of a minute.

Think about having to hit a big takedown at the end of a match. OTM cleans train the body to be able to put out a ton of power. It also teaches the body to coordinate rapidly and be explosive as possible. The OTM clean also teaches the body how to coordinate under fatigue. Not only will relative strength increase, so will an athlete’s mobility, helping athletes to be able to change levels more effectively.

Hand Over Hand Rope Sled Pull

A great way to improve grip strength, bicep and lat endurance, and overall pulling strength is by using the upper body movement of doing a sled pull, hand over hand, with a two-inch rope.

The two-inch rope mimics wrist control and transfers really well to mat strength.

wrestling strength and conditioning

The sled pull with a rope builds phenomenal grip strength. The sled pull also creates serious fatigue because the movement lasts for so long. It helps with collar ties and better mat control through the heavy-handed grip that is built up from the sled pulls.

Low key, the hand over hand rope sled pull leads to greater dynamic trunk control. We like to make wrestlers do ab rollers, v-ups, or hollow body rocks in conjunction with the sled pull.

Another factor that leads to more explosive strength with the lats is that the movement is all concentric and happens through an acceleration pattern. The lack of a concentric makes the movement easy to recover from as well.

We need to remember that this is a big-time compound movement and requires a large amount of energy. Cutting weight and using compound movements helps the body burn more energy (calories), and if we keep our protein intake high while cutting fats or carbs, this compound movement will increase weight loss while maintaining strength.

Backward Sled Pull And Forward Push

We recommend using the sled every single day for a warm-up. The sled helps the body heal and strengthens the knee joint as well as the quad. It also gets the heart rate up to prep the body for the actual training session. It also creates tremendous power output.

The sled is used daily for ten minutes as a warm-up helps. The weight doesn’t need to be super heavy. Focus on driving through the entire toe to strengthen the feet. Think about jumping forward with the sled.

Think about that low single-leg shot. The sled is a lot like that. Sled pulls and sled drives create a whole gambit to improve strength, cut weight, and lead to better performance on the mat.

Cyclical Endurance Training

Think about using a rower, an assault bike, or ski erg. These are all good movements that can be used to increase endurance and the amount of energy needed throughout the day. The simple cyclical work helps a lot.

Doing some long endurance work, about 30 minutes, on the machines is good as simple, steady-state cardio. This can be coupled with some really high-intensity work later on in the week or the day after a match. Go for 10 seconds at a really high wattage output and then try to recover in 50 seconds. This will increase strength and endurance, but will also lead to losing more weight.

Improving Endurance And Recovery

A unique example is an athlete who has to cut weight quickly. Say they are doing OTM cleans as a technical coordination movement and single-leg squats as an absolute strength movement. In between the two movements, put an athlete on the assault bike for five minutes. After the squats, have them do another five minutes on the assault bike. See how many calories the athlete can burn. This will lead to more caloric burn and greater endurance. We just have to make sure it is all aligned with proper nutrition.

Eating Properly

It is easier to cut weight when eating properly. Eating an apple 30 to 60 minutes out from training will fuel the body with some simple carbs to have more energy going into the session to have the right mindset.

It is also important to get 40-50% of caloric intake from protein when cutting. To cut weight and maintain and prevent a ton of muscle degradation, we need to have a higher protein intake to help with muscle protein synthesis. If actually using protein for energy, there is something called the thermic effect of food. That means protein requires 20% of the calories being used to break down the protein. It means that the protein consumed goes into breaking down the nutrients the body consumed. TDF plays in athletes’ favor when cutting weight.  


It is important to improve relative strength and optimize the transfer of training by making sure the exercises being chosen transfer the best over to the mat, just like the exercises mentioned above. All the movements will transfer extremely well to the mat while cutting weight and maintaining overall strength. The exercises will also help improve structural integrity.

Finally, it is important to sleep enough. Actually, sleep more. In addition, make sure the protein intake is high enough to help with performance. 

Fix Your Nutrition!

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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