Effects of weight cutting on exercise performance in combat athletes: A meta-analysis

Grant Brechney, Jack Cannon, Stephen Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Weight cutting in combat sports is a prevalent practice whereby athletes voluntarily dehydrate themselves via various methods to reduce body mass rapidly to qualify for a lower weight category than that of their natural mass. The intention behind this practice is to regain the lost body mass and compete heavier the allowed by the limit of the designated weight category, thereby, gaining a potential performance advantage.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to quantitatively collate the available literature and investigate the possible influence weight cutting may have on exercise performance in combat sport athletes.
Methods: Following a systematic search of the literature, meta-analyses were performed on strength, power, anaerobic performance, and repeat effort performance outputs over three distinct time points.
Results: Exercise performance did not improve between pre-RWL v post-RWG (g = -0.05; 95%CI = -0.33 to 0.22; P = 0.70). Between pre-RWL and post-RWL subgroup analysis revealed small reductions in performance for repeat effort and strength (both P ≤ 0.03). Qualitative analysis between post-RWL and post-RWG suggested maximal strength and power are unlikely to be improved.
Weight cutting does not appear to produce improved exercise performance in combat sport athletes. However, there is evidence to suggest select exercise performance outcomes may decline as a product of rapid weight loss, however, it remains unclear whether these are restored by rapid weight regain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)995-1010
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Issue number7
Early online date06 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


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