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1 WEEK OUT: PEAK WEEK

Peak Week is here and this is generally the time that the new guru wannabees change every possible variable in order to achieve some miraculous transformation in the last 7 days. The internet is awash with the latest theories for peaking perfectly on contest day. Some of these tricks and techniques are worth considering while others are an example of human kind’s propensity to take things to extremes. The simplest way to look at peak week is

 

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

 

Most of the techniques and guru tricks are designed to pull off some last-minute miracles to salvage a competition preparation that hasn’t gone to plan. There is a chance you will look 10% better OR 30% worse, not exactly great odds. If however you are looking the goods 1 week out why would you start drastically changing things? Having said that a sensible peak week should take into account some minor changes in order to present the physique at it’s best, lets look at a few.

 

 Carbohydrate Loading

Most competitors are going to be carbohydrate depleted leading into a contest and will need to replenish muscle glycogen to give the muscles some fullness. The trick is to find a balance between the muscles being empty and looking stringy versus too many carbohydrates being consumed and the body starting to hold water.

How do you know how many carbs to take in and when to take them? Practice, get ready early and do some mini loadings in the weeks leading into the competition.  Throughout your prep, you probably should be doing scheduled calorie refeed days to keep muscle mass and metabolism high. This provides an opportunity to see how your body responds with various carb loads and water and to see when you look your sharpest..

 Cardio

Cardio will gradually be scaled back to give the body a rest and also a chance to fill the muscles out with the extra carbohydrates. No point putting extra carbs in if you are going to keep smashing the cardio and using them for fuel.

 

Water Loading

The premise behind water loading is that we can flush water from the body (preferably from under the skin) over several days. Then abruptly stop the loading, and hopefully there will be a lag period before your body catches on and starts retaining water again. In theory, there are a few hours there where you will look extra “dry” and showcase your definition and separation better. Water loading can produce some positive changes but it can also go the other way, resulting in a flat/watery physique. Let us look at some sensible approaches to water loading.

 If you are not lean enough, then you are not lean enough, water loading won’t make a difference. Successful water loading schemes that routinely work are quite mild. More extreme plans, where competitors try to consume between 8-20 litres of water a day leading into the contest, almost always result in flushing water-soluble vitamins and electrolytes out of the body. Instead of appearing harder the physiques are usually end up softer than before loading commenced. Individuals also often experience problems getting a pump as well. If you must water load, then try something mild like a 20-40 increase in water for 2 days before the contest.

 

Sodium loading

With this one we just add in a little extra in the same proportions as the extra food your are adding in. The same sort of principles applies as with water loading. When you start drastically altering sodium consumption, you are more likely to get a bloated watery appearance than the crisp full muscles you desire. I suppose the key word here is drastic. Milder versions of Sodium or water loading have a greater chance of improving the appearance of your physique but your coach really has to have some experience with this before jeopardising your  contest preparation.

 Personally, I keep sodium the same all the way through comp prep and the final week. Sodium can help with a pump and vascularity so I may add ¼ teaspoon of salt to my food, two hours before stepping on stage. Helps with the pump but there isn’t enough time to hold any water. This is simple and effective way to utilize sodium without having to worry about major water retention.

 

Final Thoughts

Peak week has garnered a near magical reputation where amazing transformations are supposed to happen. The reality is that most of the work should already have been done and Peak Week is really just minor fine tuning.

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