In wrestling, we would drop a kg of water weight the night before and call it good. In MMA it is typical to drop between 4-6kg in the months before a fight. One issue I have is that I put on muscle mass when I train. So, if I step up training to lose weight, I just end up gaining muscle weight (especially training BJJ).

How can I drop weight without sacrificing my current muscle and training?

5 Answers 5


As an MMA fighter myself, who has had to cut as much as 13 kgs in as little as 8 weeks, I will say this: It is very possible to cut a lot of weight in short periods of time. However, it can be difficult and a test on you mentally and physically.

I was talking to a guy that claimed to have lost 20 kg in 6 weeks on a diet plan that he was give for this purpose by another MMA fighter that he knew. So if you have a couple of months before a fight and have a lot to drop this is the diet mixed with the exercise plan:

  • At around 9 or 10 am eat a bowl of all bran cereal. This is good for your bowels and can help you go to the toilet more which in turn helps drop a small amount of the weight
  • Then you would run between 3 to 6 miles a day. When you finish the run, scramble 3 egg whites, cut up a slice of ham and put it in with the eggs then put a bit of pepper on top (this surprised me as it was actually tasty)
  • Then go swimming and do between 20 and 40 lengths of the pool, with a 30 second rest period each time you do five lengths. Then eat lean chicken with a handful of brown pasta around 5 or 6 o'clock (you can get healthy sauces for the pasta)
  • Finally cycle between 3 and 5 miles.

The problem with this is that people have jobs to go to and can't always do this the way it was laid out for me. So in this case stick to the diet and do the exercises when possible. I was also told to never eat after 6 o'clock and, if I really have to, that I should eat some cereal.

At first you may feel a bit weak as its a bit of a shock eating so little but after a few days your stomach shrinks and adopts to this very well. Also, drink a lot of water and eat as much fruit as you want, but avoid bananas.

I hope this helps, it has worked for me and I'm sure it can work for anyone else who has the time to do it but I understand that not everyone can stick to this plan the way it was given to me.

  • very interesting. Do you know of any study on the long term side effects of cutting so much weight in such a short period of time?
    – Lex
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 22:03

Assuming you have no fat to lose, then you haven't really got anything to lose. (maybe get non essential organs removed :-) )

If you are on the edge, then water weight is what you have to lose.

Alternatively, avoid muscle. Given a lot of strength is about how many muscle fibers you can employ at the same time, not size of muscle cells ( you can't gain muscle cells). You can get stronger without enlarging the muscles a lot (strong like a indoor rock climber rather than strong like a power lifter). Which means avoiding massive break down of muscles when training.


The most extreme weight-cutting I've heard of was Nate Green's Bigger/Smaller/Bigger experiment, where he gained 20lbs in 4 weeks, lost it all in 5 days, and gained most of it back in 1. Might be work a look, as the techniques are from John Berardi and Martin Rooney, who both train MMA fighters.


There are plenty of guides to cutting weight out their on the internet. The best advice i can give you is to not try to cut to much. Personally, when i was fighting MMA, i didn't really cut weight. I would diet a little bit, but never got into the whole cut 15lbs of water weigth and hope to get properly hydrated in 24h. It's not good for your performance, it's not good for your kidneys, and the rest of your body either.

Now. if you want to cut weight anyway... the basics is this: the week before, drink lots and lots and lots and lots of water. this get's your body thinking yay i've got so much water i'll just pass it right through. then the day before weighins, only drink when your thirsty, day of weigh ins don't drink at all. at least 3 days before cut out all sources of sodium.
day of weigh ins, find a suana, sit in it. for as long as you can stand, then take short breaks. some people like to wear a lot of layers in the sauna, some like to go nude. some take a credit card or something similar, and scrape the sweat off their bodies with it. the theory is that sweat evaporating is how you body cools off, so if you don't let it evaporate, you'll stay hotter, and sweat more.

there are other theories like shaving your whole body right before will open up your pores and make you sweat more, 2 fighter friends of mine swear by this. but i haven't tried it.

depending on your weight, you should probably be able to cut 10lbs of water weight with just the super hydrating and sauna. of course if your only 125, it's probably less the that. and if your 250 it's going to be more.


I never worried about weight before contests. I trained and whatever I was on the day is the weight I fought at. The fact that they usually combined my normal category with the open weight also meant that there was no point worrying about my weight as I was going to be in with the big boys anyway.

  • 3
    In MMA you need to preregister your weight. So you must hit your target or forfeit.
    – user66
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 2:29
  • So pre-register 5 lbs higher. If you can't handle an opponent 5 lbs bigger than you, perhaps full-contact martial arts contests aren't for you. Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 14:41
  • 2
    mma fights have set weight classes, there is no 5lbs higher. the classes tend to be 125, 135, 145, 155, 170, 185, 205, 205+ so weight cutting / maintaining is a huge part of the game.
    – Patricia
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 16:51
  • Do you select a weight and then weigh in to prove that you're within the boundaries? Otherwise, I'd just turn up and fight at whatever weight I was. Of course, there's more of me to love these days, so I'd likely be placed in the open weight no matter how much "cutting" I did, so that's easy for me to say. :-) Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 18:33
  • @SimonPeterChappell As I said earlier, you need to preregister a weight and then weigh in. Previously I fought at 70kg, but I'm thinking about making a run for 66kg. Also, you get fans at a weight, so changing from welter to light-heavy costs more than fighting a at a higher weight class.
    – user66
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 2:21

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