With the Olympics starting this week & coming off the biggest win of my coaching career in Carl Frampton outpointing 3 weight world champion Leo Santa Cruz to win a world title in his 2nd weight class, I want to discuss the topic of finding your “optimal performance” weight.
In boxing it is a weight governed sport, with fighters striving for every advantage they can possibly get. The bigger they are for a specific weight class the better, but it is a very fine line which I’d say 80% of boxers get wrong. At the end of the day it is your performance that’s key, the more hydrated & stronger you are with correct nutrition will play a big factor in your performance.
Amateur boxing is a different sport to the professional game in the sense that you fight the same day you weigh in & it is fought at a frantic pace for far less rounds. I would recommend to any amateur boxer to stay as close to their competing weight as possible because fluctuating in weight will affect their performance, especially in younger athletes (under 18 years old). Amateurs will fight 2 – 3 times a week, sometimes more & they have to be on the weight all week so it makes no sense to be fluctuating with fluids, they should ideally be 0.5-1 kg under the weight waking up so they can weigh in, get a feed & perform in the event, then the next day be on weight again.
The professionals have 36 hours to get hydrated from weigh in to fight time so this can allow for a swing in anywhere from 6-15 pounds (2.5-7kgs) possibly more depending how big they are but this is where the athlete goes wrong. Sparring at your optimal weight & taking a chunk off in the last week pre weigh-in won’t reflect how you will feel on fight night. It is a touch & go game because although you may get back to your optimal weight you train in camp at, it won’t necessarily mean your performance will be what it was in the gym. The biggest things cutting weight will affect is;
- Your reaction time
- The snap & power on your punches
- It will make your legs feel heavy when moving
- Most of all the biggest thing it will affect is your ability to take a punch
For me as a coach I would like you to get yourself on a strict eating regime for at least 8-10 weeks see where your body settles in weight. When you get to a weight you settle at continue with the diet & training for another 3-5 weeks. After that you can assess what weight category you want to compete in. If you are an amateur boxer don’t go lower then your settled weight because it will only affect your performance. If you are a professional take no more than 4-8 pounds off from your settled weight because it will ‘also’ affect your performance once rehydrated. If you are in a lighter weight category take the lesser off & if you are in a higher weight category you can afford to take a bit more off.
You can’t cheat your way through boxing & if you do, you will get found out. Give yourself the best advantage with discipline to your eating & training but don’t take it too far. “If you are good enough, you are big enough”.