Final Week Before the Show

Carb Depletion/Loading
Some people carb deplete and then carb load the final week before a show. The theory is that once depleted, muscles suck in more glycogen directly afterwards and one can look slightly larger for the contest. Carb depletion usually consists of cutting your carb intake in about half and doing many high rep exercises for 3 days (usually Sun. Mon, Tue for a Sat show). At the end of the third day energy will likely be low, and muscles should look flat. Then one carb loads for 3 days taking in about twice the carbs as what their normal diet before the final week consisted of. Cardio or weights are usually not done during this time since it would interfere with glycogen loading. This process can be tough to master though. If you look great first thing in the morning, you may not want to fool with carb manipulation and risk messing your look up. Also, for fitness and figure competitors, it is not really necessary to manipulate carbs during the final week. As these competitors generally compete at a slightly higher body fat level, carb manipulation has little effect on how you look the day of the show. A fitness/figure girl may instead choose to carb deplete the final 2-3 days and not load until the morning of the show, to avoid holding water in the glutes.

Sodium Manipulation
Some people manipulate sodium levels right before a show to try to keep from retaining water under their skin on contest day and looking soft. The underlying theory is, if you have less sodium, your body won’t hold onto as much water and you will look harder and more defined. It’s not quite that simple though as other electrolytes (like potassium) factor in. A common misconception with respect to sodium is that you have to eliminate it completely. This can actually cause water retention. If the body doesn’t get the daily minimum required sodium (which is somewhere around 500mg), it will begin to produce aldosterone that in turn retains water in the body. Again, on this one… if you look good first thing in the mornings, you may not want to mess with things. If you do manipulate sodium, you should cut it in half, a gradual decrease, not a drastic one. For example, taking in 3000mg daily, then switching to 1500mg the day of and maybe the day before the show.

Water Intake
Thinking one must refrain from drinking water on contest day is another common misconception. Again, a drastic decrease can be harmful. Not taking in enough water can cause water retention, plus dehydration is dangerous. A gradual decrease is recommended. Like if you take in 2 gallons per day, cut back to one, or a half for contest day. Remember that muscles are made up using a large percentage of water. If they lose water, they will look smaller. People who take in too little water often have troubles looking full and vascular. The goal is to not hold water between the skin and muscle, not lose water from the muscles themselves.

Training Style
The final week you may elect to do no lifting at all. Your work is done. A few days rest will refresh you and bring you into the show fully charged. If you do lift in the final days, be a little careful not to overdo it. If you’ve reached extremely low body fat levels, there’s higher risk of injury (little cushioning in the joints).

Last Meal
A typical class for prejudging takes about 10 minutes. You can get a rough estimate for when your class will go on by estimating through use of the schedule of events for the day. Try to schedule your last meal about 3 hours before you go on so your belly isn’t bloated. Avoid certain foods that can cause bloating, like high fiber foods (vegetables), or other foods that can have an effect on bloating (pretzels, bagels, ice cream, chocolate).

Pumping Up
Pumping up should only take about 5-10 minutes. You don’t need any longer than that. It’s not a workout. You’re just doing a couple of light sets for high reps to pump blood into your muscles and make them look fuller. If you have a weak body part, you can pump it to try and balance out your physique more. You can get pumped just from posing too.

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