Weight loss patterns and success rates in high school wrestlers

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The purposes were to: 1) examine the weight loss patterns in a group of high school varsity wrestlers whose teams participated in a body composition measurement/nutrition education program, and 2) test the hypothesis that wrestling at a weight below recommended Minimum Wrestling Weight (MWW) results in decreased wrestling success.


We measured skinfold thickness in 465 wrestlers at 16 schools and, using the Lohman method, determined their percent body fat. An educational program presented at each school explained the results, provided nutritional information regarding proper diet and methods of weight loss, and suggested a voluntary MWW corresponding to 5% body fat. After excluding the heavyweight wrestlers, there were 159 varsity wrestlers. At the end of the season, we noted their weight class and whether they placed in post-season state championship qualifying tournaments.


We found that 53 wrestlers (33%) wrestled below MWW. When analyzed by school, wrestlers' non-adherence to MWW ranged from 0% to 56% of all wrestlers. In the lightest four weight classes, 62% wrestled below MWW; in the middle four classes, 29%; and in the heaviest four classes, 6%. Of the 53 wrestlers below MWW, 57% placed and of the 106 above MWW, 33% placed(P < 0.01).


These results show that a substantial number of wrestlers who participate in a voluntary body fat measurement and diet education program wrestle below recommended MWW. This is particularly true at lower weight classes. Further, wrestling below MWW was associated with greater wrestling success. The current concept of MWW should not be based on wrestling performance effects.

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