Amateur wrestlers practice weight loss for ergogenic reasons. The effects of rapid weight loss on aerobic performance are adverse and profound, but the effects on anaerobic performance are equivocal Anaerobic performance—strength and power—may be the most relevant type of performance to the wrestler. Maintenance of or even small decrements in anaerobic performance may translate into improvements in performance relative to the weight class, the factor by which wrestlers are matched for competition. During the recovery period between the official weigh-in and competition, wrestlers achieve at least partial nutritional recovery, which appears to benefit performance. Successive bouts of (a) weight loss to make weight and (b) recovery for performance lead to weight cycling. There is speculation that weight cycling may contribute to chronic glycogen depletion, reductions in fat-free weight, a decrease in resting metabolic rate, and an increase in body fat. The latter two would augment the difficulty of losing weight for subsequent weigh-ins. Most research indicates that the suppressed resting metabolic rate with weight loss in wrestlers appears to be transient, but subsequent research is needed for confirmation.
Craig A. Horswill is at Children's Hospital, 700 Children's Drive, Columbus, OH 43205.