Secrets of Bodyweight Manipulation - J.M. Blakley, Part Five
A very common method of cutting weight is sweating. This is a natural process that is always occurring. The technique of sweating as referred to here means accelerating that process. The body responds to elevated temperature by sweating. Most methods of inducing sweating involve lots of heat. In an effort to cool down the body it is possible for the body to shed a remarkable amount of water. This depends on many involved factors but as long as the body has not been recently depeleted of plasma volume, the body will give water even in a very dehyrdrated state to lower the core temperature. Sweating is pretty much a sure-fire method.
Old school techniques regularly involve lots of exercise like running or rope jumping with "plastics" or vinyl clothing that seals off the air from the skin and stops the evaporation of sweat. With less evaporation, there is less cooling and the body sweats even more in a vain attempt to reduce the temperature. Under some extreme cases, I have heard of exercise in the sauna or steam room or even jumping around in a hot shower. In these ways the core temperature is elevated by the exercise and the environment at the same time.
Sweating is an easy way to drop weight and will workeven if the body is very depleted already. That makes it somewhat easy to overdo. Many athletes will sweat too much and before they realize it, it's too late, they've gone too far. That is the real concern with sweating . . . it works well and too easily. It 's easy to overdo.
Methods of Sweating
The first is simply exercise. Any kind, any way. Flexing the muscles creates heat and the body seeks to lose it through evaporation. It sweats. The problem with exercise alone is that it is fatiguing. It can tire the athlete and affect performance. It is commonly used and all too often overused. There are more effective ways to elevate core temperature that aren't so exhausting. It is wise for the athlete to conserve energy for the competition.
Another way to induce sweating is by environmental heat. The sauna is ideal for this. The dry heat sauna encourages sweating by both temperature and low humidity. Several pounds can be shed in a relatively short period by simply sitting in a sauna. No matter how dehydrated the body is as long as the plasma volume was not very, very recently depleted, the sauna can almost always cut 3-5 pounds within a 30-40 minute window of repeated bouts of heating and cooling (breaks in which the athlete exits the sauna and returns). This has potential for abuse and many times I have seen an athlete keep poor tabs on their weight while in the sauna and lose several pounds more than they need to for no reason. They return for another bout of sweating yet they are already at the required weight! asteful!
There is also the phenomena of over-sweat. After exiting the sauna, core temp remains elevated for some time. If it is several hours before weigh-in the athlete can continue to lose water by imperceptible evaporation. This can be as little as 1/2 pound to 1 pound. It can vary greatly but is a common occurence. Some athletes are very surprised to find themselves needlessy underweight at the weigh-in. They usually attribute it to one of their weighing devices being miscalibrated (and this is certainly a possibility) and never consider the over-sweat. To avoid this some athletes will leave the sauna 1/4 to 1/2 a pound above target weight.
This brings up a point about the scales. First of all, never assume that all scales are evenly calibrated. Second of all, there is only one scale that matters . . . the official meet scale. No matter what the quality of that scale, it is going to count as the official weight, accurate or not. If it is at all possible, it is a good idea to access the official meet scale before assessing how many pounds must be lost. It is quite common to see a 2 pound discrrepancy, plus or minus, between scales. A serious competitor arms himself with knowledge. He may find to his delight that the official scale "weighs him light" and he must shed fewer pounds than he expected. He may also find that he must go a bit extra to make it. Whatever the outcome, he can prepare accordingly. He can adjust his protocol to the appropriate level. He will not be shocked to find that he is 1/2 pound over the class limit after having completed his program and weighing in on his home scale at a pound uncer. There is only one scale that matters.
I have access to several of the best digital scales made. They always weigh me within two-tenths of each other. That's three scales of high quality all consistent within less than 1/2 pound (that's 4 oz.)! I believe that's what I truly weigh. But I don't scratch my head and wonder when I arrive at a meet site and get a test weight on the official scale and it's got me 1-1/2 pounds heavier than I know that I am. That's normal. And sometimes the reverse is true and it's got me light. Either way I know just how much I've got to go to make it on that particular scale and I get to work with that adjusted goal. But coming in blind can cost a lot.
One of my trainees went to the Nationals and was certain he had dropped enough weight to make the 132 class the night before in the sauna. He was so certain of his success that he did not bother to double check himself on the meet scale. He was wrong. He missed the class and lifted in the 148's. He placed third which did not qualify him for the World's. With the very same lift in the 132's he would have goth won the meet and been National champ and qualified for the World meet. He really lost on the night before the meet when he quit the sauna without checking for certain the meet scale for consistency with what he thought he weighed (honestly, he knew better, but just got lazy). He took for granted that the National meet scale would coincide with our high quality scale and it cost him the meet. He never checked it. He even lifted a personal best that day, but it would have all been different if he was diligent and responsible. He could have easily lost one more pound. A tough lesson . . .
Destroy That Which Destroys You
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."