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MMA is all about a strong skill set, a good level of self-assessment, and a whole lot of self-confidence, which is demonstrated greatly by the weight class that players choose to fight in.
Ideally, of course, it would make the most sense to just compete with other players who are already in the same weight class as yourself.
However, this is far from common practice. Mostly, the players seem to want to gain the weight right after the weigh-in, preferably after losing some weight before. When you think about it, this does make sense because you will be competing with the lower weight class, as that is decided during the weigh-in procedure.
However, some players decide to kick it up a notch and aim for the higher weight scale as well, which causes them to adopt drastic measures that would increase their weight in quite an unbelievable manner in the shortest time.
It is, of course, far from the healthiest way to go about this. However, when the competitive nature kicks in and the match doesn’t wait for you to train yourself for six months and implement a strict diet, you are bound to look for extreme measures for temporary weight gain that makes for great competition.
How do MMA Fighters gain weight so fast?
Below we’ve discussed a few techniques exploited by MMA fighters to gain weight fast. Or, as health experts would phrase it, ‘not-so-smart ways to gain weight quickly’.
The thing about MMA fighters is that it is quite common that they would lose weight right before they weigh in by using drastic measures such as severe dehydration and near starvation. This is called weight cutting, and it is a common practice among professionals.
Gaining all this weight back in a manner that will profit them during the fight is not easy, but it is highly possible. Now what you must note is that players often tend to lose up to as much as 15 pounds before the weigh-in. And the even more challenging part? Weigh-ins take place the day before the fight, giving our players right about 24 hours to gain all the weight back.
Gaining the Weight Back
If done right, the chances of winning are pretty high, depending on how good the player is, of course. However, the recovery after the fight might suffer if the methods of weight gain have pushed all limits of what the body can tolerate.
Now common belief is that they just stuff their face back with food and fluids to go up the weight scale, and this just does the trick. While theoretically, extreme calorie surplus is the way to go, your body needs to be able to digest the food and absorb the nutrition and convert it into body mass for this to be effective.
The key to smart, accelerated weight gain is the consumption of small, carbohydrate, and calorie-rich meals every half an hour right after the weigh-in. This gives the body enough time to digest the food that is being consumed and convert it into blood sugars which means that the food is being absorbed by the body.
To supplement this, constant rehydration with water as well as electrolyte-filled fluids prove to be great helpers. Following this thoroughly can add up to 10 pounds of weight within a 24 hour period that will not compromise the fighter’s victory.
Now Banned Methods
The most abused, now banned method for weight cutting is severe dehydration which is followed by connecting oneself to an IV bag to replenish fluids right after the weigh-in. However, UFC and other related professional sporting events have finally placed a strict ban on this process, and it is viewed on the same level as steroid abuse.
Two ways to gain weight like MMA fighters (but safely)
Let me take you through step-by-step instructions on how you can gain weight fast as well safely.
Step One: Preserve those calories!
The key to successful weight gain is to maintain a calorie surplus at all times, and as a professional or non-professional athlete, you are most likely undergoing stringent training that might be causing you to burn calories even at rest owing to your high metabolism. While this is great news for those seeking to lose weight, it just adds to the fight for those trying to put on a few pounds.
Exactly how many calories you burn at rest can be determined by calculating your BMR. Whatever your BMR is, you need to increase your calorie intake by 1000 kcal. Also, say a temporary goodbye to aerobic workouts- yes, aerobics are important for building stamina, but they are also excellent at burning away calories and reducing weight.
Step Two: Anaerobic Workouts and High Carb Diets!
It is all about muscle gain, so kick up that strength training to maximum power and give it all you’ve got. Maintaining a very strict training program will help you gain lean muscle mass and the stamina that you require – basically a win-win.
Also, focus on increasing the level of carbs tremendously and balance fat as well into the diet. They are rich in calories and will contribute to weight gain without a doubt. Focus on increasing complex carbohydrate intake because there is no point in compromising your health with refined sugars. Say yes to increased quantities of whole wheat bread, brown rice, and peanut butter!
Over the years, many MMA athletes have lost their lives owing to severe and unmonitored weight-cutting practices that place a huge toll on the heart and other organs.
Therefore, it is far from advisable (without the help of a nutrition expert) to try any of these methods that are extreme, especially when you can gain weight over time in a healthy and long-lasting manner which is way more satisfactory. It can be quite tempting to be the next Conor McGregor, but there is a lot more to it than accelerated weight gain that gets you there.
(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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