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!

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

Dropping carbs to as few as possible serves two purposes. The more immediate effect is to ramp up fat burning. When you consume no carbs, your body is forced to turn to body fat as a major fuel source. This will help to burn off those last few pounds of body fat you have on your body to help you get that much leaner. The other effect dropping carbs to nil has on your body, is it depletes your body’s glycogen stores. Glycogen stored in muscle holds water. It literally pulls water into the muscle, filling it up much like a water balloon. The more glycogen you store in your muscles, the more water is pulled in and the bigger your muscles blow up. So why would you want to deplete glycogen then? It’s actually in an effort to store more glycogen when you carb load later in the week. Research has discovered that when you deplete muscle glycogen levels and then carb load, your muscles are able to store significantly more glycogen than normal. More on this below.

Depending on how much extra fat you want to drop, the further out you should be carb depleting. But at the very least, on days seven, six and five before the photo shoot date (week 9) only eat protein and small servings of vegetables (about 1 cup) for meals. The only time you will be allowed real carbs is immediately after workouts with your post-workout protein shake. Here you can have 20-30 grams of carbs, preferably fast-digesting, such as Vitargo, Wonka Pixy Stix, Wonka Sweet Tarts, gummy bears, sorbet, angel food cake, or plain sugar. On days four and three before the photo shoot day, you’ll need to even drop the post-workout carbs to really deplete glycogen levels. Be sure that you are working out, both with weights and cardio every day during days seven to three before the photo shoot day. Check out our RHC Week 9 workout plan at the end of this article.

7 days from photo shoot (RHC week 9) – One week before the photo shoot day it’s time to cut out as much sodium as humanly possibly. Now that your body water levels have adjusted to a higher sodium intake of several grams per day, dropping sodium levels to just hundreds of milligrams will purge all the excess water from your body. On day seven before the photo shoot date keep sodium under 2000 mg. On day six before the photo shoot date, keep sodium under 1000 mg. On days five, four and three before the photo shoot date keep sodium under 600 mg. And on days two and one before the photo shoot date, as well as the day of the photo shoot, try to keep sodium as far under 500 mg as possible.

Read labels on EVERYTHING you eat or drink. Meats, such as chicken breast, beef, and fish, provide about 60-80 mg of sodium per 3 ounces. This should be one of the only places where you are getting in sodium. However, you should even read the labels on the meats you are purchasing to make sure that sodium or saline is not being added to them. A lot of chicken is injected with sodium solutions. Only buy chicken, meat or fish that lists sodium content on the label. Do not use any sauces or marinades, as these will almost always include sodium. Even read the ingredients of any spices you use to ensure that salt is not included.

Eggs and protein powders are two unexpected sources of sodium. One whole egg only provides about 5 grams of protein, yet it contains 65 mg of sodium. That’s the same amount of sodium in 3 oz of chicken or beef, which provide about 20 + grams of protein. The protein to sodium ratio of eggs does not make them the best choice during this final week. So skip eggs, at least the last three days before the photo shoot. Many protein powders, especially whey protein powders provide almost 200 mg of sodium per scoop (about 20 grams of protein). You can find some lower sodium protein powders, that have less than 70 mg per scoop. Stick with protein powders that are under 100 mg of sodium per scoop. Only use fresh vegetables to keep sodium levels down. Do NOT eat any cooked food out at restaurants. There is no way to tell how the food was stored or cooked, which likely included something with sodium. The only food that’s safe to eat at a restaurant is sashimi.

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