2017, Volume 13, Issue 1

Impact of rapid weight reduction on health and performance related indicators of athletes representing the Olympic combat sports

Woo-Hwi Yang1, Oliver Heine2, Joachim Mester3, Marijke Grau3

1Institute of Training Science and Sport Informatics, German Sport University Cologne, Olympic Training Centre Rhineland, Germany
2Olympic Training Centre Rhineland, Germany
3German Sport University Cologne, Germany

Author for correspondence: Woo-Hwi Yang; Institute of Training Science and Sport Informatics, German Sport University Cologne, Olympic Training Centre Rhineland, Germany; email: ywh1235@hotmail.de

Full text


Background and Study Aim: Rapid weight reduction (RWR) may cause a potential health risk and decreases athletic performance. The cognitive goal of this review is to summarise profound aspects of RWR by Olympic combat sports athletes (boxing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling).

Material and Methods: A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify articles on the specific contexts of RWR in this review. Extensive literature research was conducted using PubMed and Google Scholar with relevant keywords applied.

Results: RWR methods used by the athletes include food restriction, dehydration and intensive exercise. After RWR increased oxidative stress, an imbalance of electrolytes and hormones, decreased glycogen or changes in blood flow, as well as decreased plasma volume, have been reported. Hemorheological properties such as deformability and aggregation of red blood cells are impaired after RWR, which may in part be related to impaired nitric oxide generation. Further, RWR was associated with a peak value of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in the morning of the human circadian system which also damages cardiovascular events and endangers their health. RWR related impairments included impaired oxygen consumption, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, muscle strength, psychological concentration and targeted sport-specific performance of combat sports athletes.

Conclusion: A long-term plan for weight reduction should be individually created, and body weight of athletes should precisely be controlled. If RWR is preferred as weight loss, athletes and coaches should avoid high-intensity training in the morning during RWR due to impaired physiological responses. International, National and Regional federations of Olympic combat sports should control weight cutting.

Key words: weight loss, nitric oxide, hemorheological properties, health risks, microcirculation, performance