The sport of wrestling is infamous for its weight-classes and weight-cutting. The practice has become controversial on the high school level in recent years, and despite stricter regulation by the NCAA, it is still common practice on the college level due to the competitive advantage that comes with dropping to a lower weight class.
A recent study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the effects of weight-cutting on lower body power, grip strength, and mood, starting from ten days prior to a collegiate level wrestling competition.
Measurements were taken at 10, 6, and 2 days prior to competition, as well as the day of the event. The physical and mental tests chosen were selected because of their similarity to the strengths needed in wrestling matches.
Wrestlers were allowed to conduct their mass loss according to their own methods. Subjects lost anywhere between 0-8.1% of body mass over the 10 day period of the study, the majority of it in the final 2 days before the competition.
The results of the study concluded that wrestlers were more affected on a mental level by their weight-cut, rather than physical.
There was a noticeable increase in confusion on the mood tests, however, there was no significant effect on lower body power or grip strength. The amount of weight cut and the increase in tension and confusion were directly related.
The study concluded the change in cognitive abilities could have a negative impact on the wrestler’s performance and decision making abilities, despite the lack of impact weight-cutting had on their physical capabilities.