How To Maintain Muscle When Making Weight

A 2 sided picture of Wanderlei Silva. One pic shows him stepping on the scale. The other shows him the next night in the cage. There is a noticeable difference in his

If you read the post I put up last week on cutting weight (if you haven’t click here to read it) then you know that losing fat free mass (muscle) during the season is pretty much a given.

And why wouldn’t it be??

When you cut weight you’re on a very low calorie diet and you’re exercising hard. This isn’t exactly the formula used by top bodybuilders, or anyone for that matter, looking to gain or maintain muscle.

But what if I told you that I had a miracle cure proven to help you maintain muscle during the season?

Well, my friend, I do and it’s called knowledge. Now let me hit you with some!

The Study:


“The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of B-alanine as an ergogenic aid in test of anaerobic power output after 8 weeks of high-intensity interval, repeated sprint, and resistance training in previously trained collegiate wrestlers and football players.”


22 wrestlers (I’m assuming from D2 school Adams State College in Colorado). 12 were given a placebo and 10 were given the supplement. The capsules were exactly alike except for the contents.

This was a double-blind study so both the researchers and the athletes were not aware of which wrestlers were taking what. This type of study is seen as the most reputable.


The wrestlers were instructed to take half the dose (2 grams) in the morning with breakfast and the other half at lunch. Additionally, they were told to eat their usual diet and not take any other supplements.

The wrestlers kept a diet log which was then used to determine caloric intake.

Average Caloric Intake

The wrestlers taking the placebo consumed an average of 1,688 cals/day. The average protein intake was .79g/kg body weight.

The wrestlers taking the B-alanine consumed an average of 2,210 cals/day. The average protein intake was .76g/kg body weight.

Both were categorized by the researchers as “low calorie” considering the high workload on the wrestlers.


4-5 wrestling practices along with 3 lifting sessions each week.

The lifting was a circuit. The wrestlers used varying work to rest ratios of 1:2 to 1:4 throughout the season.

From what I gathered from the study the lifts were pretty basic, and actually incorporated quite a few single-joint, machine lifts. In a nutshell, it was a less than ideal lifting program, in my opinion.


Both groups of wrestlers lost body fat and body weight during the 8 weeks.

The placebo group lost an average of .98 pounds in lean mass.

The group taking B-alanine increased lean mass by an average of 1.1 pounds.

There were other basic tests run in this study to see the effects of various physical qualities. However, I was mostly concerned with the effects on lean mass.

Here’s what the researchers concluded on the other tests- “The subjects taking B-alanine achieved more desirable results in all tests (average values) compared to those on placebo.”


“B-alanine may magnify the expected performance outcomes of training programs with different metabolic demands. Adding B-alanine to athletes’ training programs may improve anaerobic endurance and may aid in lean mass accrual and preservation. Supplementation with B-alanine may assist wrestlers in maintaining lean mass while cutting weight.”

Study Referenced

Kern, B. T. Robinson. Effects of b-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(7), 1804-1815. 2011.

My Thoughts

I really think the above info speaks for itself. However, if you have any questions just leave me a comment below or shoot me an email at

Additionally, for what it’s worth, the researchers stated that although the supplements used in the study were donated, they received no funding and they do not have competing interests with any supplement company.

Related Posts:

Your Ultimate Guide To Recovery

Best Post Workout Meal

Cutting 101

Cutting 102

What To Eat The Day Before Weigh-Ins

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


4 Comments. Leave new

  • Dickie,

    There was such a drastic difference in calorific intake I do not think it is safe to draw any conclusions at all about the preservation of lean body mass.

    500 calories a day is significant and may have been the cause.

    I wonder why calorific intake was not standardised for both groups?

    Of course if the lower intake group had better preserved lean body mass it would have been
    something worth following up.

    Thanks for highlighting the study.

    • Hey Peter,

      At first when I looked at the study I was a bit suspicious because of the caloric intake difference as well. I just pulled the study back up to take a look at it and thought this was worth quoting to better address our concerns about the differences between the total caloric intake of the 2 groups:

      “Similarly, both football groups consumed nearly identical calories (35.6 vs 35.9 cals/kg bodyweight) and nearly identical amounts of protein (1.17 vs. 1.19 g/kg bodyweight), gained nearly identicaly amounts of bodyweight (+2.8 placebo vs. +2.6 supplement), and trained in the same program, yet the group taking B-alanine gained nearly double the lean mass (+2.1 vs. +1.1 pounds). In addition, it’s worth noting that both wrestling groups were severely calorie restricted (1,688 cals/day for placebo group, 2,210 cals/day for supplement group). Under these conditions, the most likely outcome is indiscriminant weight loss (lean and fat mass) as was the result for the wrestling placebo group. The low protein intake demonstrated by both wrestling groups (less than 1 gram/kg bodyweight) combined with the high-intensity training does not typically produce an optimal environment for lean mass gains; however, the supplemented wrestlers were able to increase lean mass while taking in only .76 g of protein per kg of bodyweight. The degree to which carnosine and other intra-myocellular buffers affect protein metabolism is an area where more research is needed.”

      Anyway, enough with the scientific analysis. …I did a quick search for average calories burned during wrestling practice and found that a 155-pound wrestler is estimated to burn about 590 cals/hour during practice (according to this site). Assuming that’s right here’s what I’ve come up with (using 5 wrestling practices a week even though the study states 4-5):

      2 days a week the wrestlers were taking in full calories (1,688 for the placebo group and 2,210 for the supplement group)
      2 days a week the loss from practice only resulted in- 488 for the placebo group and 1,010 for the supplement group
      3 days a week (assuming 400 for cals burned during circuit lifting)- 88 for the placebo group and 610 for the supplement group

      *I just took a guess at the 400 cals burned during the lifting.

      So while I definitely agree with you that the placebo group is left with fewer calories, I don’t see an average of 810 cals/day for 5 days a week being nearly enough to promote muscle retention (or in this case muscle gain) regardless of how many additional calories are consumed on non-practice days.

      Hopefully the quote above and this breakdown helps to better clarify things (I did it just as much for me since I’m in the same boat as you in regards to the caloric difference of the 2 groups).

      Thanks for leaving such an awesome comment man; talk to you soon.

  • How do I get ahold of you to see about a personal program?


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