Prepping for the final week (peak-weak) before a big event like a competition is one subject in the bodybuilding world that’s clogged up with myths and half truths. Sodium loading, water depletion, carb loading… the list goes on and on. In fact, I have seen several people over the years messing up a perfectly good physique by using some insane seven-day protocol the last week before their event. Therefore it’s time to address this mystery once and for all. 

Disclaimer: if you do not look good two weeks before your big event, than the chances of looking great when you get there will be slim. 

No. 4: Keep Training

spider curl
I firmly believe in the value of continuous training until the event. Heavy training should stop around Thursday if we assume a Saturday event, but a light circuit come Friday is recommended. Think 10 sets of 15 reps with some posing mixed in.

No. 3: Keep the Carbs

Oatmeal Fruit Bowl
Oatmeal Fruit Bowl
Carb loading and deloading can wreck havon on an athlete’s mind — making you feel like crap. Many combine this protocol with excessive cardio, which can deplete muscle. And people are afraid of eating carbs that they start eating them too late, thereby never really filling out. Instead, I recommend the following: be ready the week before the event, do a small carb depletion (think 60 percent) of your regular intake for three days while coming from a fully carbed-up level. Then three days before your event, go back to 100 percent or even 110 percent, this way you’ll have time to eat more or less depending on what you look like.

No. 2: Don’t Skip the Salt

A sodium deloading and loading protocol is not a magic pill, it will only make a very good physique even drier and crisper. However if you’re not vascular the days before a show, it’s not the salt that is holding you back. Again, you are not lean enough. Sodium is needed to ensure that the muscle cell can contract and relax. All this is done via low electrical stimulus from the nerves. If sodium levels are inadequate for neuronal function, then a muscle cell will fail to function properly, which is why long periods of cutting sodium out don’t make any sense. Without sodium, you can’t get a pump and your body will appear flat. Some athletes don’t bother without it at all and still look great. Again, it is all about observing and paying attention to detail. 

No. 1: Stop Blaming Water

Now here is where things get interesting: I do not cut my water in the days leading up to the event. The reason is why you need carb and creatine with water is because you need water to shuffle carbs into the muscle cell, otherwise they sit in the stomach and pull water from the muscles. You’ll end up looking like a spider with a huge belly and skinny arms and legs. 
Very often, water is being blamed for what really is fat.  Well here is the truth: water moves, fat doesn’t. Most people shouldn’t even try to manipulate their water intake, if your training and diet got you in great shape the week before, why change it now? If you feel you should use any kind of diuretic, legal or not, keep in mind that your muscles are mostly made from water and dehydration will leave you flat. Therefore, it is critical not to cut water out too early. So what about the opposite? Don’t get upset if you feel that you spilled, it can be fixed by doing a light a whole-body pump workout. This will make you sweat and force the body to transport the water from under the skin and transport the water into the muscle cell. Most people actually don’t “spill,” they were simply not lean enough in the first place.