Let me preface this article with the intention of opening up dialogue and conversation surrounding weight and water cuts. By no means do I recommend or encourage one to do so in preparation for a meet. This article explores and informs on ideas, trial and error, and provides information for those who seek it. This cut is also directed to those within the 10- to 12-pound range (at max) from the desired class and recouped without the aid of an IV. Like everything within this sport, please take this read with a grain of salt (no pun intended).

MORE: How to Cut Weight Without Ruining Your Meet

Making the Cut was written from notes after my 14th water cut (13 meets and one strongman), and I honestly forget what it feels like to abandon such a ritual before taking to the platform. This whole procedure starts the friday before weigh-ins, or seven days out if you wish to use it for a sunday session meet. I keep it simple, use plastic gallon water jugs, refill them, and use a new one every other day. The trick is, and I tell many of my clients this, is not to panic. It is easy to want to starve yourself or freak out when you see the initial salt and water jump (I usually start at around 209 and will balloon up to about 216-217—a full 20 pounds away from my class. I eat exactly like I have been all prep (minus heavy carb cheats) with the exception of the timing coming into play to help accurately regulate the water. The key is to stay as heavy as possible until the night before and learn to trust the process.

The Water Load

Friday (7 Days Out)1 gallon of water, no carbs after 9:30 / no food or water after 10
Salt 1 teaspoon every other meal  
Saturday (6 Days Out)1 gallon of water, no carbs after 9:30 / no food or water after 10
Salt 1.5 teaspoon every other meal  
Sunday (5 Days Out)1.5 gallons of water, no carbs after 9 / no food or water after 9:30
½ tablespoon every other meal  
Monday (4 Days Out)2.0 gallons of water, no carbs after 8:30 / no food or water after 9
½ tablespoon every other meal
Tuesday (3 Days Out)2.5 gallons of water, no carbs after 8:30 / no food or water after 9 Salt
1 teaspoon every other meal  
Wednesday (2 Days Out)3 gallons of water, no carbs after 8 / no food or water after 8:30
Thursday Morning (Day before weigh-in)4 oz of grilled plain chicken and 1 scoop of peanut butter or a handful of plain almonds 2x today, 16oz of water total. No more food or water by 3 in the afternoon.
Thursday Night (12 hours before weigh-in)Check weight and check in with coach, decide on a hot bath or sauna rotation depending on how close we are. Allowed to suck on ice cubes if needed or sugar-free gum.
Friday Morning (Morning of weigh-in)Wake up three hours beforehand depending on the distance from bed to place of weigh-ins. Check weight and, based on the previous night, see if another small bath is required.

I always opt for the hot bath rotation in favor of the sauna, as I find the sauna to be particularly mentally draining and generally takes much, much longer. The key for me is to stay mildly comfortable (I use this term loosely) to conserve energy for the big day. If you make yourself too sick, the refeed will be hard (as many overlook it as just an excuse to force-feed). The bath makes this possible by allowing 15- to 20-minute intervals, while also giving you something to do. The act of prepping the bath, the epsom salts, and steaming the room all makes for an activity that takes my mind off the actual process. I'd rather do this than solidify myself in a giant wooden box of steam and force myself to suffer alone. That always makes the difference for me. It's the act of committing to the process versus forcing myself. Even though they both aim to achieve the same outcome, and maybe more mental than anything (as yes, you force yourself into the tub), the bath feels more natural and makes me less anxious.

For the bath, you need the following; plenty of towels to dry off, a washcloth, a towel for clogging the door, a phone/timer, epsom salts, and a partner to knock on the door every five minutes to make sure you are good. The scale should remain outside of the bathroom and not be utilized until fully dry. It is easy for one to become overzealous and hop on the scale immediately in hopes of making it in one go. Patience is key here. Quick movements can get dicey around this time.

This process is usually done in a hotel bathroom, which tends to be small but generally is much better to steam the bathroom quicker. More than likely, you are traveling to your meet, and this will be your option. I begin the hot bath process at about 8 or 9 p.m. Thursday, (friday a.m. being weighins, about 12 hours away).

The Hot Bath

Ensure ample amounts of towels (both to dry off and stick under the door). Place the scale outside of the bathroom, and have music. Have someone ready to knock on the door every 5 minutes to make sure you are okay and conscious.
Begin filling the tub with extremely hot water and turn the sink on to help steam the room quicker. Place the towels under the door to create a barrier to help keep the bathroom as hot and steamy as possible.
Pour epsom salts in the tub about halfway full and test the water with your foot. The trick is to add some lukewarm water to the piping hot water to get it just barely manageable to climb in.
Once it is full, turn off the sink and tub (account for your body surface area as not to overflow the tub) and EASE your way in. This may take several minutes as it is uncomfortable. Make sure your music is on. Try and distract yourself and somewhat relax.
I stand in the tub for a minute and slowly lower my legs down until I’m sitting flat with most of my torso, head, and arms still out of the water until I adjust. Slowly slide down until you can have the water cover your chest. This is important to increase body temperature and speed up your heart rate.
Once ready, set a timer for 15 minutes and lower yourself until just your face (possibly your knees if the tub is small) are sticking out of the water. If you don’t do well with timers, stopwatches, or countdowns, most songs average three minutes. So, if you listen to five full songs, you should be close to 15 minutes.
You will begin to sweat and feel out of breath. This is is normal, and why it is so important to have someone on standby or in the room if they can handle it.
Once the timer is up, you will want to get out. DON'T! Proceed very slowly as quick movements may cause you to become very dizzy. Slowly sit up and take your time getting out and then sit on the edge of the tub. This part is important as you will continue to sweat even once out of the water, do not try and dry off yet for at least another ten minutes.
By now, your whole cycle should have been around 30 minutes as you start to dry off and exit the bathroom. Find a cool place to sit and calm down and continue to allow your heart rate to return to normal. Once you are completely dry and feel relatively normal, you may check your weight.
This process may take several rounds depending on how strict you were with following the salt and water load protocol and how overweight you were, to begin with. Generally, mine takes no more than to to three cycles. If it requires three, I will go to bed and do the last one very early, at around 6:30 a.m, if weigh-ins are at 9 a.m.

I always make sure the room is cold once I return to normal and have some sort of NSAID on hand. Headaches do become frequent and make sleeping not so easy despite being worn out. Imodium is also a must for the next day upon reintroducing foods.

The Refeed

By now, you have made weight and you're ready to eat everything in sight. Please slow down because this is where many new lifters, even with a successful cut, let it go to waste. You must slowly introduce foods and solids back into your system while maintaining the ability to continue to eat throughout the day and not get that “thanksgiving full” feeling. Upon exiting the weigh-in, I start with Pedialyte mixed with a bit of creatine and glutamine. Slowly sip on it. The ice-cold grape will make you want to slam the whole bottle, but you must resist. After an hour or so of only light liquids (usually a Gatorade) and not chugging, I introduce food.

I opt for breakfast. Cracker Barrel or places of the sort have been my go-to: turkey sausage, eggs, steak, oats, and grits. Again, slow and steady as to not begin to feel sick. Popping an Imodium would be a good idea right about now.

Now it’s time for salt, a lot of salt. I go for pretzels, Chex Mix, and salt and vinegar chips. I graze and don't attempt to eat an entire bag in one sitting. Other salt bombs worth noting are pickles. Continue with hydration mixes.

Lunch is usually plain chicken and rice since it digests easily. I periodically check my weight as it goes up, usually setting a goal to reach before turning in for the night. By this time, I have usually gained about eight to ten pounds back in food.

Dinner is usually sushi. I know many would argue against this, but it’s a tradition with me and the crew. I encourage you to eat things your body is used to. The soy sauce also helps with the salt intake. I also try for a sweet dessert as the sugar will expand your stomach, stimulating relaxation and enable you to continue eating.

It's usually difficult to get one more meal in before going to bed. This is more than likely the one that feels most forced. Try, but if it’s not there, don’t push a bad stomach ache before bed as you need to rest up for the big day tomorrow.

Food Log

Below you can find my food log for refeeds and check-ins during the days leading up to the meet.

Weight Log and Refeed Notes  

Friday: 207.4 AM weigh-in
Saturday 207.4 AM weigh-in
Sunday 208.4 (1 gallon previous)
Monday 206.6 (1.5 gallons previous)
Tuesday 208.4 (2 gallons previous)
Wednesday 207.0 (2.5 gallons) 
Thursday 205.0 (after 3 gallons)
Salmon 6 oz, almonds, black coffee 12 oz  

202 at hotel at 5 PM
201 at 8 AM
198.2 at bed at 11 PM
197 at 8 AM
Official weight 88.9 kg or 195.9 at 9 AM 
Weigh-in at 9:00
Gatorade with added BCAA powder and 5g creatine  

Country Boy Breakfast at Cracker Barrel at 10:30 AM 
12 oz glass of OJ
12 oz water
Imodium before start
Steak and eggs and turkey, bacon, or sausage
Hashbrowns and grits
Fried apples and biscuits   

202.5 at noon weigh-in
PB and J Uncrustable 
1/2 bag of cape cod salt and vinegar chips
1/3 tub salted sourdough pretzels 

PB and J Uncrustable
Chicken and rice with added pink salt
Gatorade Zero and water 
207 weigh-in at 2:30 PM

Sashimi appetizer of assorted fish
4 hand rolls
2 big glasses of water
Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie from Smoothie King for dessert  

210 weigh-in at 8:30 PM
Fairlife mint ice cream 
Kind oat bar

211 at bed

Travis Rogers works as a high school educator teaching 10th grade English language arts and strength and fitness, as well as running a strength and powerlifting club after school year-round. He frequently takes his students to state and regional competitions in the USPA and RPS powerlifting federations and competes regularly himself, while also speaking at seminars and announcing and judging for USPA East. He recently totaled 1,829 in sleeves at 198 at the 2019 USPA Ohio Nationals tying the Top Ten Total of all time.