Naturally working with MMA fighters means that I am often questioned about weight cutting and my approach to this. My view on cutting is that you want the dieting phase to still allow you to train at pretty much full intensity so you can make gains in strength and conditioning as well as skills. Here’s my take on training for explosiveness. Whilst you can do everything right in terms of the strength and conditioning work you do and your technical work, if you don’t stay healthy its very easy to pick up illnesses that hinder your progress and prevent you from being the best athlete you can be on fight day. The weight cut is absolutely critical in this process, and with so many people using crazy practices in order to shed those last few pounds, I thought I’d give you my take on effective cutting. Clearly every case is different and the specific programme is different for every body, but with that being said, here are my top 5 tips for effective weight cutting.

  1. Stay within 15% of your fight weight all year round and 12% 10 weeks out. eg 77kg fight you should be within 10kg of this 10 weeks out. If your cutting from outside this weight its going to be really tough to get it right alongside your training so expect something to give, usually the quality of your training in my experience!
  2. Don’t follow Ricky Hatton’s post fight diet! Following a fight keep eating clean, with the exception of the day after the night before! If you have ambitions to fight again rather than just a one off, sort out your diet so you don’t balloon after a fight. There are many ways to do this, the simplest is to ‘just do it’!
  3. Use high calorific surplus diets for short periods of time rather than gradual slow dieting. This allows you to drop weight then move on, then drop again if needs be. You can ask the athletes I work with about the specifics of this diet! The other option means that you're always dieting and this will affect your training and fight preparation in the build up to the fight, no doubt!
  4. Use carbs to fuel your training sessions only. You can still eat carbs, don’t take this the wrong way, but use them for what they really are…sugars, They fuel your body quickly and should be used around training for this reason. There are other supplements I recommend but I was in danger of exceeding my 5 point limit so these will have to wait for another top 5 post!
  5. Use a fluid (low residue) diet 48 hours prior to fights to shed an extra 1-2kg without sweating! Essentially switch to liquid nutrition rather than foods at this time, so protein shakes, meal replacements, etc.

Written by Brendan Chaplin MSc ASCC CSCS
Brendan Chaplin MSc CSCS ASCC is a performance specialist and strength and conditioning coach. Currently he is Head of Strength and Conditioning for Leeds Met Carnegie in the UK and consults with governing bodies, sports teams, institutions and individuals looking to perform, look or feel their best. Follow him on twitter @BrendanChaplin or check out his websites at

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