I did it! Perhaps one of the stupidest things I've accomplished in my 20+ year competitive judo career. Over the lockdowns I took the opportunity to hone my craft as a coach. One of the areas of study was becoming a 'Weight Cut Specialist' through the Lockhart and Leith Method. George Lockhart is widely known in the mixed martial arts world as the leading authority in handling professional fighters' nutrition and weight cuts to get in the lowest weight class possible to improve their odds in winning a bout.
For the past few years I've been competing in the heavyweight division but after deciding that I stand a better chance at returning to the -100kgs(220lbs) division. My biggest strength is groundwork(ne waza), from years of practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and using that advantage in the heavyweight category is extremely difficult.
I first used Lockhart's method returning to competition after over a year layover from lockdown mandates, to the Judo National Championship in Reno, NV. With no tournaments to ramp up to such a caliber I started out at 245 pounds. I lost about ten pounds for a weight loss over the course of a few weeks. That left about 15 or so pounds to cut. There is a difference between a weight loss and a weight cut. The weight loss portion is to focus on losing fat while being able to maintain enough energy to recover from training, or what some call fight camp. The weight cut is focused on losing water weight. There is a threshold to losing fat that also means muscle is lost. The water lost is looking to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. Plus, water in the body can be lost very quickly. Think of someone in the desert dehydrating. The more an athlete has muscle mass the more water can be cut. A higher body fat content actually makes it difficult to cut weight because fat holds no water.
The first cut at Nationals went amazing. The series of water loads, supplements,laxatives, and diuretics (all WADA and USADA approved) worked easily. So much so that I only have a few pounds to actually cut right before weigh-ins. I was able to get a bronze medal at the end of the day and physically felt strong the day of competition.
I have refined the weight cut process another three times since then and it is getting easier and easier even at the age of 41. This last cut was the biggest cut over the course of less than a week. I'd like to think I had a really good strength and conditioning cycle packing on muscle with the strength gains I experienced but I might have also enjoyed a little too much of my children's Halloween candy. I started out with an excess of 20 pounds on a Monday and thought it was going to be a sufferfest for the rest of the week. It could not have gone easier.
I ended up having some tough matches against the current national champion in my weight division. I wasn't able to defeat him but I felt amazing the whole day. I was able to walk away with a bronze medal in the open weight division. At the end of the day, I felt great competing and look forward to competing with more weight cuts in the future.