Scaling New Heights… and Weights

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While many fighters continually struggle to compete in the lowest weight class possible-they diet, use sauna suits, sweat it out and will go to great lengths to make weight-there are still others who are only kidding themselves into thinking that they are competing at their optimal weight.  These fighters typically eat poorly, get beat when they shouldn’t and take unnecessary punishment by consistently going up against guys that are naturally bigger than they are.  The truth of the matter is, when it comes to participating in a sport that has distinguishable weight categories, there really is no excuse for a competitor to be fighting out of their ideal weight bracket.  The topic of weight is such a prominent part of the sport because it is so crucial to being competitive.

No, the rules and regulations are not perfect (in fact they’re far from it) and the entire weigh-in process is flawed, but the sport does at least provide some regulatory standards for fighting in categories that were established for helping even the playing field.  If you are negating that regulatory standard by choosing to be overweight, eating irresponsibly or being undisciplined, then you are really doing yourself a huge disservice.  By not maintaining your optimal competitive body weight, you are giving up an advantage even before the fight starts.  In preparation, slacking in this area may feel like the easy way out, but the price you pay in the ring isn’t easy at all.  It could be a hard lesson to learn.

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Whether it’s in the amateur ranks or on a professional level, it’s a shame to see promising fighters lose on this premise. They should be winning. They should be more successful, but they’re fighting a battle with a handicap. Too often THEY don’t even understand why they’re not winning the big ones.  They’re good enough.  They’re tough enough.  They have all of the skills and yet they continually come up short. Is this you or a fighter you know? The answer to this can be found in how feel, how you look and what the numbers say.  If you feel lethargic, you may be carrying around extra weight.  If you work out like a fiend and still look doughy around the middle, you could probably stand to lose a few pounds.

This extra weight could be attributed to many different factors.  It could be due to inadequate training, a poorly designed nutritional plan, a lack of discipline in the gym or in your lifestyle outside the gym.  Regardless of why, if boxing is your passion or your profession, there is no reason, at the very least, for not knowing, scientifically, exactly where you stand.

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There are three basic methods that cost little or nothing to administer and yet can give you a good idea of your specific body-fat ratio.  Once you know where you stand, it’s easier to set a goal to get there, whether that will require a change in eating habits, approach to training or an over-arching recommitment to the sport.

One method is to use a body fat caliper. These can be purchased for a few bucks online (ex: http://accumeasurefitness.com) and with the help of a friend or coach, will give you a fairly accurate reading by just taking a few quick measurements.

The second method is by using a body fat calculator. These are found at various businesses on the internet as well and, after you plug in a few body measurements, it will automatically calculate your percentages for you.  All you need is a tape measure, a scale and access to the internet (http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/body-fat-percentage-calculator).

A third approach is a new spin on an old classic and that’s a scale. Only now, scales come with built-in diagnostics that also help calculate body fat percentage and even body water content (ex: http://store.titleboxing.com/title-weight-scales.html.)  This is a simple, consistent way to continually monitor your weight and track your ongoing progress.

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None of these methods are 100% exact, but each are very affordable and will give you a baseline indication if you are carrying around extra weight-weight that is keeping you from being as competitive as you could be.  It isn’t even a bad idea to use more than one of these methods or all three to check them against each other and/or find an average that you can then aim for.

The bottom line is…not showing up in prime athletic shape is not only detrimental to your pursuit or passion for this sport, but it also demonstrates a level of unprofessionalism and a real lack of discipline.  Granted, there are those athletes who, no matter want kind of shape they’re in or what their diet s are like, will ever have that lean, sculpted look.  Natural body type and genetics certainly play a role, but there are few athletes that can’t be at an ideal body fat percentage if they want to be and are attentive to their nutritional approach.

All it takes are the proper tools, time and attentiveness to your nutritional intake, but it is bound to pay off by tipping the scales in your favor.

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.