Kentucky Strong: Making Weight for the Strength Athlete

TAGS: suppository laxative, sauna suit, protocol, Making Weight for the Strength Athlete, 24-hour weigh-ins, Kentucky Strong, Chase Karnes

Cutting weight for competition is not fun, it’s hard, and to be honest, it freaking sucks. But there’s nothing worse than putting in all that work trying to make weight and then stepping on the scale at weigh-ins to realize you didn’t make weight. Luckily, I haven’t had that happen and don’t plan to. Another horrible scenario that plays out for many lifters is that they step on the scale to see that they made weight, but then they turn around and have a piss poor performance when it’s time to compete. What I’m going to outline in this article is the exact protocol I’ve used to cut weight for NAS Strongman Nationals the last three years. I’ve also used this protocol with clients cutting weight and everyone has had success in doing so.

A Few Rules

Before cutting weight for a competition, there are a few things I recommend. First of all, do a test run with the protocol to see exactly how it works for YOUR body and record exactly how much weight you drop during this time period. This is very important. You need to have a baseline so you know how much you can safely and effectively cut with the protocol. You also need to train the following day and see how you perform. This will allow you to know how much above your weight class you can get and still make weight to perform optimally. It also allows you to see if you need to lose any bodyfat before trying to cut weight. If you use it and drop 10 pounds, but weighed 215 pounds and want to compete at 198 pounds, you know that you need to diet off at least seven pounds of fat in the months prior to trying to make weight.

How It’s Done

The protocol I’m laying out below is for 24-hour weigh-ins and should only be used if you are weighing in as early as possible (the morning before the competition). If it’s a 24-hour weigh-in, but you’re not weighing in until the morning of the competition, DO NOT do this protocol. You need as much time as possible between weigh-ins and competition time.

Don’t cut weight multiple times throughout the year. Typically, I wouldn’t’ recommend cutting more than a couple of times a year. I have no proof that this is a bad thing, but common sense says it’s not a great idea.

Use a bathroom scale the weeks leading up to the competition to keep a close eye on your weight. You don’t want any surprises that you’ve gained six pounds that you didn’t plan on trying to cut at just one week out. If you realize this far enough out you can always make dietary changes and still be OK.

Use this same scale to monitor your weight loss during the water cut and even take this scale with you as your travel. I’ve literally had my wife pull off the interstate and pull into a cheap motel where I stripped down naked in a hotel parking lot (it was dark and I blocked myself from view between a dumpster and my car) to see where my weight was at around 12 hours out from weigh-ins. This was to help me decide if I need to employ any of the emergency methods below. Regardless, this scale should be used to monitor things very closely as you get closer to weigh-ins. On the night before weigh-ins, if you’ve made weight or only a couple of pounds over, you should be fine. Typically you’ll wake up a couple of pounds closer. If you’re over much more than that you either didn’t do a trial run to see how it worked on your body or weren’t honest with yourself on how much you could drop with the protocol. Either way, you’re on your own at that point.

The protocol below I used to go from 214 pounds, at eight days out, to weighing in at 200 pounds at the 24-hour weigh-ins. By 10 p.m. the night of the weigh-ins I was back up to 214 pounds. I competed and took second place at NAS Nationals and noticed no negative effects in my performance—I even hit quite a few PRs. Not everyone has had as much success using this as me, but typically people drop between 8-12 pounds, with one guy only being able to drop six pounds. It is very important that the protocol is followed exactly, as any minor deviation could cause it to be less successful.

The Protocol

In the example below we will assume the weigh-in is on a Friday and you’ll be competing on Saturday. You’ll have at least 24 hours between weighing-in and competing.

Saturday: Drink two gallons of water; add a little extra salt to your food. You’ll also want to go pretty low carb from this point on.

Sunday: Drink two gallons of water; add a little extra salt to your food. Still low carb.

Monday: Drink two gallons of water; add a little extra salt to your food. Still low carb.

Tuesday: Drink two gallons of water; add a little extra salt to your food. Still low carb.

Wednesday: Drink one gallon of water. No sodium at all. Very low carb.

Thursday: Drink 8-12 ounces of water. Three small meals of only 2 oz. of chicken breast and ¼ cup mixed berries or strawberries.

Friday: Nothing until after weigh-ins.

Immediately after weighing-in…

  • Drink a bottle of Pedialyte with a pinch or two of salt. Drink this slowly over an hour.
  • Over the next 24 hours you need to drink 2-3 gallons of fluid which should be a 50:50 mix of water and Gatorade. Aim for 32 oz. of liquid an hour. You want to be urinating frequently and with clear urine by the evening.
  • Take 99mg of potassium per hour after weighing-in.
  • You’ll also want to take a mutli-mineral with 1000mg of calcium and 500mg of magnesium (take with food).

So this is where it can get a little tricky. You see the “fitness professional” me shouldrecommend that you should only eat food that you’re accustomed to eating regularly. And that’s great advice – and if possible I do recommend it. But I learned quickly that when you are sleeping in a hotel in a city away from home it’s not that simple. And when you’ve suffered a week eating low carbs, drinking gallons of water and then abruptly drinking almost no water – you just want to eat whatever you feel like.

What I Typically Eat Afterwards

Note: I’m a strongman competitor, so if you’re a powerlifter, you may go about this a bit different. While I want some bloat, too much bloat could cause a decrease in my performance. Beginning with weigh-ins on, use your own judgment,knowledge, and experience.

You’ll want to eat as soon as possible after weigh-ins. Typically, I’ll go to a Waffle House and get a waffle with butter and syrup, bacon, a couple eggs, and toast with jelly. However, I don’t pig out here and typically only eat about half of this meal. I also eat it pretty slowly. Eating too much or too fast will make you feel miserable and the body can’t digest it that fast. Eat slowly and until you’re a little past full, but not stuffed.

After this meal, I typically go back to the hotel room and literally lay around watching TV, eating, and drinking all day long. Like I said above, you’ll be drinking around 32 oz. of the water/Gatorade mix an hour. I usually eat typical junk food during the day: chips, candy bars, M&M’s, granola bars, some fruit, trail mix, etc. Don’t stuff yourself, just snack constantly throughout the day. I eat mainly carbs and some protein, but a little fat is OK as well. Just don’t overdo it as fat can be pretty filling. Also, make sure you’ve eaten these foods during your trial run just to make sure things go smoothly. Again, don’t add something in your body that it hasn’t ever had or it may not turn out so well. I usually won’t eat a full meal again until supper, where I’ll eat some protein, but will really load up on carbs. The “Lil’ Stevie Method” works great here. Just order a steak and for both sides you simply choose potatoes. This can be the same kind of potato or two different types. Also, eat the bread the restaurant offers. After this I’ll usually snack through the evening up until bedtime. Be sure to load up on the carbs all day and evening. Shoot for a MINIMUM of bodyweight x 2.5. I typically go way above that, but you wouldn’t want to be below.

By the time you go to bed you should be urinating clear and weighing what you weighed before cutting weight or at least within a pound or two.

Oh Shit, I’m Still Over Weight!

The strategies below will help you if it appears you’ll be cutting it close the day before the weigh-in. However, the more of these you use, and the more weight you have to cut with them, there is a higher risk of decreasing your performance on competition day.

Option 1:

Wear a sauna suit on drive to competition with periodic heat

If you find yourself over by six pounds or so, around noon the day before weigh-ins, you may want to implement this. Just put on a plastic sauna suit with sweats on over it while riding (don’t do this and drive) or traveling to the competition. Turn the heat on, if possible, and just sit back and enjoy the scenery while you sweat. Don’t get too stressed out and just let the body sweat. If possible (after 2-3 hours) take your sauna suit off, dry yourself with a towel, and re-weigh. If you’re within 3-4 pounds, leave the suit off. If higher, put it back on for another two hours before re-weighing.

Option 2:

Administer a suppository laxative. These can help you expel an extra pound sometimes. Sometimes there’s nothing left to expel—I’m not going into any more detail here.

Option 3:

If you wake up the morning of weigh-ins at the hotel and you’re over by a pound or two, find out if they have a sauna and go sit in it for 20 minute intervals, re-weighing and taking a break every 20 minutes. Or, if there’s no sauna at the hotel, just make one in the bathroom. First, turn the shower on high and as hot as it will go. Second, open the shower curtain and shut the bathroom door. Make sure to place a towel across the bottom of the door on the floor to help keep any heat from escaping. Third, put on your sauna suit and sit on the toilet or lay in the floor. You’ll do 20 minute intervals here just like with the real sauna.

I don’t recommend using a hot bath or shower as I’ve heard water can reabsorb into the skin when you’re that dehydrated—ain’t nobody got time for that.


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