Impact of two different body mass management strategies on repeat rowing performance

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Jan;38(1):138-46. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000179903.05365.7a.


Purpose: The present study was conducted to examine the impact of acute weight loss on repeat 2000-m rowing ergometer performance during a simulated multiday regatta, and to compare two different body mass management strategies between races.

Methods: Competitive rowers (N = 16) were assigned to either a control (CON), partial recovery (REC(partial)), or complete recovery (REC(complete)) group. Volunteers completed four trials, each separated by 48 h. No weight restrictions were imposed for the first trial. Thereafter, athletes in REC(partial) and REC(complete) were required to reduce their body mass by 4% in the 24 h before trial 2, again reaching this body mass before the final two trials. No weight restrictions were imposed on CON. Aggressive nutritional recovery strategies were used in the 2 h following weigh-in for all athletes. These strategies were maintained for the 12-16 h following racing for REC(complete) with the aim of restoring at least three quarters of the original 4% body mass loss. Postrace recovery strategies were less aggressive in REC(partial); volunteers were encouraged to restore no more than half of their initial 4% body mass loss.

Results: Acute weight loss increased time to complete the first "at-weight" performance trial by a small margin (mean 3.0, 95% CI -0.3 to 6.3 s, P = 0.07) when compared with the CON response. This effect decreased when sustained for several days. Aggressive postrace recovery strategies tended to eliminate the effect of acute weight loss on subsequent performance.

Conclusion: Acute weight loss resulted in a small performance compromise that was reduced or eliminated when repeated over several days. Athletes should be encouraged to maximize recovery in the 12-16 h following racing when attempting to optimize subsequent performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australian Capital Territory
  • Body Size
  • Exercise*
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sports*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*