Before competition, you will need to lose weight to comply with the demands of your weight category. But if you are a beginner, you may not even know how to cut weight!

To help you, we are going to present you with 3 essential weight loss strategies used in martial arts.

Increased training

Increased exercise is one of the most common technique used in combat sports.

One of the most used training methods is jogging and sprints. Think about, you just put your workout shirt one, your joggers, and you just go run. 

The purpose of this technique is to increase calorie expenditure. And since calorie intake stays unchanged, athletes lose weight. How much weight loss there is and whether there is weight loss in the first place depends on calorie intake and expenditure.

A great way to expend more energy is by punching the heavy bag. 


The most common weight loss strategy is dieting. Dieting contributes to weight loss in various ways and may be achieved with different methods.

Skipping meals or simply reducing food intake would, first of all, result in short-term weight loss due to the reduced weight of food in the gastrointestinal tract. If the restriction of food intake is long-term rather than just before competitions, the effects of dieting would be long-term as well.

A much less common technique among combat athletes is the ketogenic diet, which is also known as the low-carb & high-fat diet (LCHF). The ketogenic diet requires a long-term adaptation, so it wouldn’t be suitable for a quick pre-competition weight reduction. However, keto-adapted athletes can enjoy certain benefits like decreased dependency on glycogen levels or increased energy levels.

Dieting is common across sports beyond just martial arts. In the scope of martial arts though, skipping meals is especially common in taekwondo and wrestling (84%), which is thought to be due to the increased frequency of competition.

Fluid intake restriction

Fluid intake restriction is the second most common weight loss technique. Again, it is exceptionally widely used not only in martial arts but basically in any other athletic discipline.

The goal of fluid intake restriction is the promotion of the so-called water weight loss. Via either restricted intake or increased consumption, this technique helps athletes to lose quite considerable weight in a short time frame.

The effects of fluid intake restriction usually occur much quicker than with other weight loss strategies. However, the same goes for gaining weight. Upon stopping fluid intake restrictions, the fluid levels in the body are going to quickly rise to their normal levels.

In combat sports, a variety of techniques are used in order to promote water weight loss in athletes. The techniques don’t just stop at merely reducing fluid intake. For example, in wrestling, common water weight loss techniques are training in heated rooms, spitting, as well as frequent saunas. 

Another very common technique is water loading. Athletes essentially consume increased volumes of water for a few days in order to force the body to excrete water quicker. Then, the water intake is restricted. In spite of fluid intake restriction, the body will continue to expel water at an accelerated pace for some time. 

Many athletes combine several weight loss techniques, which significantly increases the effectiveness of their weight loss strategy. However, both short- and long-term effects of tough weight loss techniques aren’t yet well-understood, so one would need to be cautious when combining different methods.

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