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How to Prepare Properly for the Rock Hard Challenge 'After' Shot

Follow our Week 9 "Peak Week" workout plan and photo shoot tips to end the challenge on a high!

By Jim Stoppani Ph.D.

rock hard challenge

Click here to go straight to the RHC Week 9 workout plan

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7 Days from photo shoot (RHC week 9) - One week from the peak day it’s also time to drink a LOT of water. This will flush out any remaining sodium in your body, which will make all that water you’re drinking work to rid your body of excess water. It sounds counter intuitive, but it works! You should shoot for 1.5 – 2 gallons of water per day. Instead of counting every glass of water you drink, an easy method to make sure that you are hitting your 1.5-2 gallon mark is to buy gallon jugs of water. When the two gallons are empty, you have hit your mark. I find that drinking water from larger containers like this also makes it much easier to consume so much water. It just seems less daunting to drink two one-gallon containers than 30 eight-ounce glasses.

2 Days from photo shoot – The last two days before the photo shoot day you’ll need to limit your fluid intake. As I mentioned, the amount of water your body holds is tightly related to the amount of sodium your body holds. Since you are now limiting sodium and guzzling water like a fish, you only have a few days before your body adjusts to the low sodium levels and starts to hold more water despite the low sodium intake. To avoid this you will need to cut back on water the last two days before the photo shoot day. On day two before the photo shoot date, keep water intake to under 0.5 gallons. On day one before the photo shoot date try to limit water intake to under 0.25 gallons. On the photo shoot date you can drink water, but do so slowly. Watch how your body responds to small sips throughout the day. If there is any sign of your hardness starting to get blurred from water intake, stop drinking.

*Caution: Dehydrating your body can be very dangerous. If you experience severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, severe muscle cramps, or your urine color turns a brown or greenish brown, start drinking more water immediately.

2 Days before photo shoot – Two days before the peak date it’s time to restock, er overstock your muscle glycogen levels. You not only want to look as shredded as possible on the peak day, but you also want to look as big and as muscular as possible. As I explained earlier under Step two, going for several days on little to no carbs, depletes muscle glycogen levels. And that allows your muscles to store significantly more glycogen than they normally could. Since glycogen pulls water into the muscles, this essentially works to full up your muscles like a water balloon. This not only helps you to look bigger, but also can help you get more shredded. That’s because as you fill your muscles with glycogen they pull water into the muscle. A good deal of that water will come from under the skin. So by carb loading in these last few days you are not only helping your body to look bigger and fuller, but you’re also helping your body get that ultra-shredded look. The first 24 hours is the most critical time window for carb loading. So be sure to pound as many carbs as possible. Shoot for 3-4 grams of carbs per pound of body weight.

Carbs can come from fast-digesting sources, such as fat-free candy and white potatoes, or slower-digesting sources such as sweet potatoes or yams. If you think oatmeal, rice or pasta are good carb sources, think again. Remember, you are limiting water intake onthese last two days and these carb sources are made with water, which these carbs absorb. You need carb sources that are as dry as possible. You also need carb sources that provide zero milligrams of sodium. You will be getting sodium form your protein sources, so be sure that your carb sources are not a source of unwanted sodium. Be sure to read all labels carefully. Besides potatoes (be sure to bake them and not boil them), good dry and sodium-free carbs include Wonka Pixy Stix, Wonka Sweet Tarts, certain flavors of Bear Naked Granola, and air popped popcorn that you pop yourself. You can also eat some fruit during the first day of carbing up. But it needs to be freeze-dried and sodium free.

During the second day of carb loading I would suggest forgoing any type of fruit. The reason is that fruit contains fructose. One problem with fructose is that the body does not use it well. The majority of fructose you eat gets converted to glucose by the liver. However, if the liver is stocked with glycogen, it will convert fructose into fat instead. That’s the last thing you want. During the first day of carb loading, your liver and muscles are not stocked up with glycogen, so any fructose you consume will be converted to glucose. But on the second day of carb loading, there’s a bigger risk of converting fructose into fat since the liver becomes stocked with glycogen. This is another reason why I recommend that you stick with Wonka Pixy Stix and Wonka Sweet Tarts. Most candy companies use sugar (which is half glucose and half fructose), or high fructose corn syrup, which has even more fructose. Yet Wonka Pixy Stix are pure dextrose (glucose) and Sweet Tarts are made with just dextrose and maltodextrin (which is simply a chain of glucose molecules attached together. These are one of the few candies that you can buy that do not contain any fructose.

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