In boxing, water weight is cut before bouts, but the amount of weight to cut varies between professional and amateur boxing. In professional boxing, the typical weight cut may be as high as 20 lbs (9.1 kg); in amateur boxing, the typical weight cut is much less than that. This is because, in amateur boxing, weigh-ins are normally a couple of hours before a bout, so amateur boxers have to restrict their weight cutting in order to have sufficient performance, while still making weight. Information about cutting water weight for amateur boxers is relatively scarce, that’s why this post is focused on answering how much water weight should be cut for amateur boxers.
Cutting for Performance
Any recommended amount of weight to cut should take into account whether the boxer has been dieting and losing fat, the boxer’s weight class, the boxer’s experience in cutting weight, and how much time the boxer has to rehydrate. For a typical boxer, our general recommended amount of weight to cut is 3% body mass, especially if done through forced sweating (e.g. use of sauna suit). ( It is important to take this only as a recommendation; the specific amount of weight one should cut can be narrowed down by the boxer, his experiences, as well as the factors just mentioned.)
Levels of Weight Cut:
1% loss of body mass is negligible for almost all boxers. It is a difference of one and a half bottles of water (1 bottle of water=16 ounces or 473ml of water). This is considered mild dehydration.
2% loss of body mass without rehydration is about a 6% loss of aerobic performance. This is a difference between a 6.5 minute mile vs a 7 minute mile. Reaction times may be affected. With rehydration, one might feel slightly tired, but performance loss will be negligible. This is a difference of three bottles of water and considered modest dehydration.
3% loss of body mass with rehydration may or may not present noticeable performance loss. Without rehydration, there is a performance loss; it may be an aerobic performance loss of about 8%. If the boxer has two hours to rehydrate, the performance loss will be negligible. Less time to rehydrate can lead to perceived tiredness, but performance loss may be manageable. This is a difference of four and a half bottles of water, which is a significant volume (if three water bottles wasn’t already), and is considered mild dehydration.
4% loss of body mass with rehydration will present a noticeable performance loss. Things like sustaining prolonged engagements, reaction time, inter- and intra-round recovery will suffer. Some boxers can handle this, especially if they have the boxing skills or fortitude to make up for the aerobic performance loss. But if the boxer has three hours to rehydrate, the performance loss may be manageable. This is the upper limit for balancing the weight cut with boxing performance.
5%-6% loss of body mass will definitely present both a performance loss in anaerobic and aerobic power. Some of this loss can be mitigated by rehydration but the boxer may need several hours to recover. Amateur boxers should not dehydrate to this level.
7%-9% loss of body mass significantly affects wrestlers who have several hours to rehydrate. Boxing requires more aerobic work than wrestler. Since dehydration affects aerobic work more than anaerobic work, this dehyration range is also extremely inadvisable.
More than 10% is the range for pros, so amateurs have no business dehydrating to this level. The boxer would need around a day to rehydrate and recover from the performance losses.