The last week before a fitness competition is not only a change up to your current routine but it is also the time where you see the most changes in your body… if done correctly. For some, peak week can be living hell and actually land you some severe medical issues.
The goal of this week is to rid your body of all water weight so you appear leaner yet give your body carbs to fill out the hard earned muscle. One would automatically think “okay, stop drinking water and just eat carbs, right?” Although some bodybuilders will swear by this approach, this may lead to dehydration, muscle cramping, and a potential visit to the ER before the competition.
As a general rule, water should never be completely eliminated. Especially since you were drinking 1-1.5 gallons for the past several weeks of prep. If you have followed your training and nutrition programs properly throughout contest prep, you can find success with a scientifically proven alternative approach: water loading.
This is where you actually water load in the beginning of the week and scaling back carbohydrate intake. Then as the week progresses slowly decrease water while increasing your carbs. This actually pushes the water under the skin into your muscles to help you avoid looking “flat” on competition day.
So if you were drinking that 1-1.5 gallons all throughout prep you may want to water load 2-2.5 gallons mon&tues and then slowly taper down to a half gallon the day before competition. Likewise, keep carbs really low the first few days and then increase as needed. ****Note that customization is key in contest prep. One must find what works for their body.****
I can tell you from first hand experience that the first few days of peak week are the hardest days of the entire prep. You feel exhaustion from lack of carbs, you need to use the restroom every 20 minutes, and you may feel loopy, bloated and forgetful from all the water. But it’s all worth it when you start to carb up. Your metabolism is roaring and you literally watch your muscles soak up all the carbs you just fed them. It’s an amazing phenomenon to watch! Like a science experiment happening right inside you!