NCAA rule change improves weight loss among national championship wrestlers

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 May;38(5):963-70. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000218143.69719.b4.


Purpose: The present investigation was initiated to examine the weight management practices among wrestlers participating in the NCAA Division I, II, and III wrestling tournaments. Part 1 examined the efficacy of body composition assessment between preseason (PRE) and postseason (POST). Part 2 examined rapid weight loss (RWL) during the 20 h preceding the weigh-in and the rapid weight gained (RWG) during the first day's competition.

Methods: Subjects include 811 competitors from Divisions I, II, and III participating in the NCAA national championship tournaments between 1999 and 2004. Measurements included relative body fatness (% BF) and weight (WT) on the day preceding the tournament and the evening of the first day. Minimal weight (MW) was computed with 5% BF. Retrospectively, MW, % BF, and WT from the previous fall were obtained for comparisons from NCAA records.

Results: Part 1: WT and % BF decreased significantly PRE (WT 74.0 +/- 11.1 kg; % BF 12.3 +/- 3.4%) to POST (WT 71.5 +/- 10.4 kg; % BF 9.5 +/- 1.8%), but MW (PRE MW 68.0 +/- 9.2 kg, POST MW 67.9 +/- 9.1 kg) remained unchanged. Heavier wrestlers and Division I and II wrestlers showed the greatest changes in WT and % BF. Part 2: RWL averaged (+/- SD) 1.2 +/- 0.9 kg and relative to weight 1.7 +/- 1.2%. Division I and lighter wrestlers showed the greatest change. RWG averaged 0.9 +/- 0.8 kg, or 1.3 +/- 1.2%. RWG was greater among lighter and Division I and II wrestlers.

Conclusions: Minimal weight estimates PRE appear valid compared with POST. RWL and RWG are reduced significantly over previous investigations with only mat-side weigh-ins. The NCAA weight management program appears effective in reducing unhealthy weight cutting behaviors and promoting competitive equity. Efforts to institute similar programs among younger wrestlers seem warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Societies*
  • United States
  • Weight Loss*
  • Wrestling*