Fargo Survival Series Part 2: Weight Management and Nutrition

Fargo weight management
Photo: John Sachs/

Coach Robinson “Prebes” Prebish presents the “Fargo Survival Series.” For Part 1 (“Training for Wrestlers”), click here.

Weight management is the second key to success in Fargo. Wrestlers who don’t cut or manage their weight correctly tend to have excellent first days, but fizzle out in the big matches. I remember watching a kid from Illinois the year I placed at Junior Nationals who was an absolute beast and physical specimen go 5-0 with all tech falls on day one and not make weight for day two! This kid had a legitimate shot to win the tournament, but ruined his chances with the way he cut his weight. Those who cut a ton of weight for Fargo don’t necessarily do better than those who cut a small amount of weight. Not that I was a good weight-cutter by any stretch of the imagination, but I was able to keep the day two weigh-in within reach. Now that Fargo Greco has one weigh-in, one might be tempted to try and cut to a much lower weight class, but I do not see that as being adventitious. Winning tough Greco matches in Fargo takes a ton of brute strength and will; cutting weight will sap that strength.

So let’s talk about how to manage your weight before and during Greco because you are most likely going to wrestle both styles in Fargo. I was one of the few who chose to only compete in Greco because I knew I was going to be physically and mentally beat up. You only have to make weight once for Greco, wrestle two days (if you get to the podium) and then have a day in between before freestyle. How you manage your weight while you are training says a lot about your priorities in wrestling.

Managing Weight for Fargo

For starters, I do not believe in wrestlers cutting a ton of weight (any more). When I competed it was the norm to try and cut down one or two weight classes below a safe wrestling weight. It was foolish but that is what we did back then. I’d like to believe that coaches are better informed about the physical liabilities of cutting too much weight the wrong way. If you spend much of your practice time in heavy sweats worrying about how much you will lose, you are cutting too much weight. I believe that practice time should be spent working and improving technique — not cutting weight. The weight you need to lose should be done outside of the practice room and include safe weight loss and good nutrition. If you are training the right way, your weight probably is not much of a problem. Plus, practices seem to go much better when you work out in shorts and a T-shirt.

If you arrive to your state training camp more than ten pounds over, it will be a struggle for you to make weight safely. There just is not enough time to lose the weight in a way that will not affect your wrestling in Fargo. Even though you will have two or three practices and a cardio workout each day at camp, your weight will continue to be difficult. Most of your mental focus in practice will be on “how many pounds will I lose” instead of “how can I make my gutwrench tighter.” Arrive to training camp less than ten pounds over — unless you are a heavyweight. Heavyweights can drop up to ten pounds in a good practice.

Fargo nationals weigh in scale

Don’t wait until the last possible moment to begin your weight descent. A “good” (and safe) weight cut will begin at least one month prior to the tournament, depending on the weight class you plan on competing in in relation to your “natural” body weight. Changing dietary habits, which I will discuss later, must be part of this weight cut if you are going to be successful. If you are serious about doing well in Fargo and getting to the top of the podium, you are already training hard and (hopefully) eating right. I know for high school wrestlers, the definition of eating right is a bit of a mystery.

Accounting for Workouts and Hydration

Try to schedule at least one wrestling and one cardio workout every day, including weekends. It is important to continue to work on your Greco technique every day as much as it is necessary to put in time on the track, elliptical, or whatever you use for a cardio workout. Your body will begin to adapt, speeding up your metabolism so you will burn more calories every day. This is part of the key to safe weight loss: using up more calories than required by the body. Practice is time to work on fixing your wrestling, while cardio is time to fix your mental game.

Understand that what you are losing in practice is water weight. If you are not replacing what you sweat out, by the end of the second day of training camp you will not feel 100%. Studies have shown that being as little as 2-3% dehydrated has an adverse affect on performance. It’s okay to replace what you sweat out. Staying hydrated while working out in the summer is crucial for optimal performance. And stay away from sugary sports drinks! Do not believe the hype that they “replace electrolytes lost in sweat.” All sports drinks do is replace sodium and sugar; there is much more to the electrolyte profile than sodium.

In this Fargo weight loss plan you will notice that you are probably losing up to a half pound per day while staying completely hydrated and fueled up. Losing a net total of more than about a half pound per day is cutting into hydration and/or nutrition. By sticking to a plan like this, you will most likely not have to cut a massive amount of water weight in the days leading up to Fargo. Do not consume less food or water to enhance this daily weight loss; it’s way too early too cut out your fuel sources.

Hopefully this plan will bring you into training camp at five or less pounds over and still feeling great. You’ve been working hard and eating right; camp is time to pick up the intensity and focus on improving the skills that will help you win Fargo. You want to be the model of what training should be for your state. Even at training camp, you need to follow your training and eating plan! Since you will probably double your workouts while at camp, you need to make sure you are doing your best to maintain up to a half pound of weight loss per day.

Nutrition for Fargo Preparation

Along the same lines as weight management is nutrition. To be able to wrestle ten matches in two days, you have to have the right fuel in the gas tank. Filling up on soda, candy, and junk food will not provide the correct energy necessary for success. Fortunately, most wrestlers stay on campus at North Dakota State University and the dining halls there have vastly improved over the years. The food at NDSU is quite good. Stay away from processed carbohydrates (bread, bagels, etc.) and focus on lean protein, quality carbohydrates (rice is awesome), and plenty of fruits and vegetables. As for fluid replacement after weigh-ins, once again, stay away from sports drinks! Pedialyte is a good post weigh-in drink as it provides the correct amounts of sodium, chloride, potassium, and calcium. But if you are training and dieting correctly, you shouldn’t be dehydrated after weigh-ins, anyway.

Sample Diet Plan

I completely changed my own diet in August of 2015 to get myself back into better health and wrestling shape. I think the diet I used is pretty good; I ate a ton of good food while keeping my daily calorie intake below my body’s requirements. Here is what I ate every day. It was not glorious and sexy like the many diet plans you see on the internet, but it is effective and conducive for proper training.

Breakfast: 1 MusclePharm protein bar, 12 oz. water, 12 oz coffee (sorry, I need my coffee in the morning to help wake up. MusclePharm protein bars are some of the best on the market: 20 grams of protein, low fat, and low sugar.
Mid Morning Snack: 1 banana, apple, or other fruit and 12 oz water.
Lunch: 6-8 oz of lean protein (turkey burger, grilled chicken, or fish), ½ cup of brown rice, quinoa, or ancient grains (healthy carbohydrate choice), 1 cup steamed vegetables, 1 container of Greek yogurt, 12 oz. water.
Pre-Practice Snack: 1 MusclePharm protein bar, 1 banana, 12 oz. water.
Dinner: Same as lunch. See above.
Evening Snack: 1 MusclePharm protein bar, 12 oz. water

This diet will give you plenty of energy throughout the day, keep you hydrated, and help you to lose that half pound per day.

Weight management and nutrition go hand in hand, especially when you are training for an incredibly stacked tournament like Fargo. You cannot decide to begin training hard for Fargo less than one month prior. To win Fargo, you should be preparing all spring and summer. Remember, there is no off season in wrestling. You cannot decide to begin eating right less than one month before Fargo; eating right has to be a year round endeavor.

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