How Much Weight Do Wrestlers Cut?

How much weight do wrestlers cut?

Body mass and physical size factor heavily into all grappling sports because the heavier athlete will typically hold an advantage over their lighter opponent. For this reason, wrestlers will fit within a specific weight class during matches and tournaments. Many wrestlers will drop weight before matches to qualify for lighter-weight classes, but how much weight do wrestlers cut?

Wrestlers may cut between 10-25 pounds (4.54-11.34 kg) of body fat leading up to matches and throughout the season and an additional 5-10 pounds (2.27-4.54 kg) of water weight before weigh-ins. Some wrestlers, however, prefer not to cut much at all to preserve energy.

Of course, many wrestlers take it to the extremes and cut even more water weight. That said, they are taking a big risk on their health. Drastic weight cutting in sports can be very dangerous and in some cases, life-threatening.  

In this article, we’ll review how much weight wrestlers cut (on average), the philosophy behind weight-cutting, the pros and cons of cutting weight, and how to cut weight safely. Of course, this article is for information purposes only. Consult your doctor and coaches before cutting weight for a sporting event. 

How Much Weight Do Wrestlers Cut for Competition?

Cutting weight may seem like a simple and straightforward enough process to those who have never done it, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reason why weight-cutting is such a problem for wrestlers is that there are so many different ways to go about it and factors worth considering.

A wrestler will begin their weight cut assessment based on three factors: their current weight, their target weight, and the date of their competition. Beyond this, everything else comes down to individual programming methods.

Cutting Body Fat vs. Cutting Water Weight

There are two different methods of weight-cutting: body fat reduction and water-cutting. 

Body fat reduction begins when an athlete is a few weeks or more out from their competition. This is a more conventional weight loss through diet and exercise and is wiser and healthier. Water-cutting is when the athlete dehydrates and depletes their body of water before stepping onto the scale and then immediately rehydrates their body.

The Average Weight Cut Range

Wrestlers can cut anywhere from 10-25 pounds (4.54-11.34 kg) of body fat throughout the season or when they’re still relatively far out from the competition. It’s also common for a competitive wrestler to cut another 5-10 pounds (2.27-4.54 kg) of water weight immediately before weighing in. 

Of course, some even do more drastic cuts than this. But as we already said, cutting weight is dangerous. So the more you try and cut the more risk a wrestler is taking on their health. 

Many different factors and considerations will play into the amount of weight that a wrestler chooses or is forced to cut. Let’s explore these more closely.

The Determinants of How Much Weight a Wrestler Will Cut

Knowing how much weight to cut requires experience, strategic planning, and body familiarity.

Everyone’s body responds differently to weight cuts. Some wrestlers will have more weight loss tolerance than others (i.e., they have little difficulty losing large amounts of weight and don’t sacrifice much strength in the process). On the contrary, some athletes find it difficult to shed pounds and come away feeling depleted. This needs to be accounted for when planning out a cut.

Individual Preference

The number one factor which will determine the amount of weight a wrestler cuts simply comes down to their personal preference. 

In a wrestling match, strength plays a huge role. Some wrestlers feel that they possess a greater strength advantage over their opponents when they’re efficient at performing huge weight cuts and can drop into lower weight classes to challenge smaller competitors. 

On the other hand, some wrestlers may find this process stressful and tiring on the body and feel they’d be stronger if they ate more food and focused their energy training technique.

This is something a wrestler will figure out for themselves over time as they gain competition experience.


Age is another factor that plays heavily into the amount of weight a wrestler will cut.

Generally speaking, young athletes who haven’t yet finished growing can’t (and shouldn’t) cut as much weight as older and more advanced level competitors.

This is due to a lack of experience and the fact that high school wrestlers are typically not as large as grown adults (although there are certainly exceptions). They don’t lose as much weight because they’re, on average, not as large in the first place.

Weight Class

Carrying on from that last point, we can confidently claim that a larger athlete has a greater range for weight-cutting than a smaller one.

When looking at weight-cutting poundages, we must also consider an individual’s body fat percentage. As a person loses fat, their body fat will also be reduced. However, a person’s body fat percentage can only go so low before their strength starts to dump and their hormones cease to function normally.

A heavyweight wrestler will, in all likelihood, have a higher body fat going into their cut than an athlete from a lighter division. This allows the former to cut more weight because it’ll make up a lesser percentage of their overall mass.

Weigh-In Timing

The timing when an athlete must weigh in varies depending on the venue and the wrestling organization. This, too, factors into how much weight a wrestler can cut.

If a wrestler is required by the commission to weigh in on the same day of their competition, the athlete can’t perform an intense water cut. That’s because they require sufficient time to rehydrate their body before performing.

If, on the other hand, the weigh-in is 24-hours before the contest, then the athlete will be able to shed more water and still have time to replenish themselves safely.

Why Do Wrestlers Cut Weight?

As was briefly touched on earlier, a wrestler’s main reason for cutting weight is to gain entry into the lighter weight divisions where they will, ideally, be bigger and stronger than their opponent. This can sometimes create somewhat of a weight-cutting arms race among competitors.

There are, however, some drawbacks to cutting weight that may deter wrestlers.

Legendary wrestler and 3x Big Ten Conference winner Mark Hall ll has stated in the past that he doesn’t cut weight because it leaves him feeling lethargic and depleted. He instead focuses on training hard with a full energy reserve and competes very close to his natural weight. There are many such examples of this at the elite level.

Many heavyweights also tend not to cut weight for competition.

The Pros & Cons of Cutting Weight for Wrestling 

Take a look at the pros and cons of cutting weight for wrestling competition:

Cutting weight can grant you a size advantage over smaller opponents if you’re proficient at it.
Cutting weight can provide structure to your diet and preparation and prevent you from getting lazy and out of shape.
Weight-cutting ensures you’re eating clean and healthy and working hard in training.
Weight-cutting can sap your energy levels and leave you feeling weak and unenthusiastic.
You may botch the cut and come in overweight, rendering you unable to compete.
Cutting weight can be harmful to an athlete’s health if not done properly.

There are many ups and downs to weight-cutting, but no matter what your philosophy is, every wrestler will have to go through weight cuts at some point in their career. It’s an integral part of the sport and can be a tool for attaining great success.

As long as weight cuts are done safely and under the guidance of an experienced professional, they can provide many benefits.

Cutting Weight Safely

Weight-cutting unfairly gets a bad reputation at times because of athletes who push it to the extreme and cut beyond what their health will allow. This isn’t only an inaccurate depiction of the practice, but it also reflects poorly on said athlete’s discipline and game planning. That said, consult your doctor and coaches before trying to cut weight for wrestling. 

Wrestlers should always know when their competition is and their current weight and body fat percentage. They should be capable of losing the required weight without undergoing extremely aggressive weight cuts. The need for an extreme weight cut is usually a sign that the athlete has made a miscalculation and begun their weight cut too late in their program.

Overly aggressive weight cuts — especially water weight-cutting — can negatively affect the body’s internal organs, particularly the kidneys and liver.

Two main factors come into how much weight a wrestler can cut for a competition: their water-shedding allowance and their minimal body fat percentage allowance.


Over half of the human body is made up of water. This allows us to shed an incredible amount of weight in a short period by dumping it. However, there’s a limit to what the body will permit before it begins to face serious consequences.

A 10-pound (4.54-kg) water dump is considered to be at the higher end of the range in wrestling. Anything beyond this becomes dangerous. Of course, even 10 lbs might be dangerous for some people. 

You may hear of athletes undergoing extreme cuts of up to 20-pounds (9.07-kg) in a day, but again, this is fooling and reflects poorly on an athlete, not nobly. Train smarter, not harder.

Maximal Weight Cut Allowance

Even if you’re focused on cutting body fat and not relying on a water dump to make the weight, there’s a limit.

Generally speaking, once an athlete begins to venture into the single-digit body fat percentage range, they’re nearing that limit. Under no circumstances should a wrestler be under 7% body fat.


The point of this article was to provide a concrete answer to the question of how much weight wrestlers cut. Many factors play into this equation, such as the athlete’s age, weight, personal preference, and experience level.

In terms of body fat cutting, a wrestler will typically lose somewhere between 10-25 pounds during the season or over the few weeks leading up to the competition. A wrestler may go on to lose another 5-10 pounds of water weight just before their weigh-in by dehydrating themself.

When done safely, weight-cutting can give a wrestler a huge advantage over the competition. That said, talk to your doctor and coaches and cut weight at your own risk. 

Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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