Believe to Achieve
Jay Cutler's house
Hard and Heavy
Using Water To Be dry On Contest Day
Drifting in and out of sleep for most of the night, your routine ran through
your mind at times, your pulse raced, you wondered if "it would work." You were
awake long before the alarm sounded but you were afraid to look. Maybe just a
little more sleep. Finally, you amble to the hotel bathroom, turn on the light,
and slowly lift your shirt to reveal your abs. Would your skin be dry? Would
deep crevices and vascularity be visible like so many days in the last two
weeks? Or...would you look soft... like last time.
There are countless locker room experts to guide you through the last week of
your contest preparation. They competed a decade ago in the County Novice Mr.
Nobody, have their PhD from Flex Magazine, and their advice is free.
The Secret Formula For Getting Ripped
You listened. If my psychic powers are tuned correctly and Jupiter is in the
right position, I bet I can get close to your formula. Carb deplete Sunday
through Tuesday, drink tons of Water, maybe Sodium load a little, carb load
starting Wednesday, start cutting Water Thursday (Friday virtually none,)
eliminate Sodium for two or three days prior to Saturday, start taking 99 mg of
potassium every 2 hours, and use a magic cocktail of glycerol, creatine with
sugar, toss in a little wine if your from the British team, and finish it all up
with an over-the-counter dandelion root-based diuretic to supercharge your
By the way, if you ever get tired of bodybuilding, pharmaceutical companies pay
volunteers to test new therapies far less complicated - you may want to apply. I
know; I'm being cruel. How can I joke about this when you're standing in front
of the mirror shocked at how you could follow the "protocol" so perfectly and be
flatter and softer than you were last Saturday. I hate to tell you, it will get
worse. After the disappointment of not being able to recover your form all day,
you'll wake up tomorrow full, hard, and vascular. Sunday, that is... just like
last year. Why is it so hard to time a peak? Turn off the T.V., you're going to
want to concentrate on this article.
Water balance in your body is incredibly complex. The end goal of a bodybuilder
on contest day is to look "hard." body fat must be gone, that's a given, but
even with the leanest physique you can present, the shredded/dry look comes from
having a minimal amount of Water under your skin. Really, what this means is
interstitial plasma, which can be thought of as any fluid outside the cells in
your body. There are several processes that affect cellular fluid dynamics. We
have to start with the big picture first.
Water makes up 50-60% of your body and up to 75% of your muscle tissue. If
you're 2% dehydrated it will negatively affect your muscle tissue and athletic
ability. If you're 5% dehydrated you'll cramp and if you're 7-10% dehydrated
you'll hallucinate and risk death. Think back to when you were drinking a gallon
and a half of Water a day. You were full, hard, and vascular.
Why? You had enough Water in your body. The morning of the show you were flat as
a pancake, soft as a marshmallow, and every muscle on your body shook and
cramped on stage. Why? You were dehydrated. When you see pictures of top WNBF
pros that are clients of mine, be assured they didn't cut Water one bit.
Why weren't they Waterlogged and soft? The Water was in their muscle tissue
making them full and hard, while interstitial Water was at a minimum. Keeping
Water intake normal gives you the opportunity to be full, but being hard depends
on what we do to channel it into the muscle. This is where the Sodium/potassium
comes in. Sodium is the major extracellular fluid cation and potassium is the
major intracellular fluid cation. "Aha! Professor Novice Mr. Nobody was right in
having me cut Sodium and increase potassium!" Nope, misapplied science.
Normal physiology maintains 55-65% of our fluid intracellularly anyway. If we
are in a normal condition, we have more fluid inside than outside our cells.
It's when we screw something up that this percentage heads the other direction
and fluid is diverted outside the cell. Fluid dynamics is controlled with
incredible precision via our kidneys.
Though you hear the phrase "you have to trick your body" every time you get a
locker room lesson on peaking, trust me, there is no tricking your body. It's
much faster than you and much more sophisticated than you could hope to account
Every time you do something extreme trying to cause an extreme reaction, you'll
get one. Two problems are that first, it may not be the one you wanted, and
second, if it is, it will be very short-lived because the extreme reaction will
be quickly countered in the other direction just as severely until the
"pendulum" that you violently swung slows back down. Take a serious look at what
happened to your body during the fictitious example I gave.
You went from hard and full, to harder, then a little smaller, then huge, then
huge and soft, then soft and flat on the morning of the show, then huge and
vascular on Sunday, and finally as soft and squishy as can be for a couple days
after that. That's the kind of instability you get when you start trying to
"trick" your body.
Yes, Sodium and potassium are key ions that regulate cellular fluid dynamics,
but you can't create extreme environments and expect to time them for a show.
You can subtly influence them, but keep in mind this phrase: Water follows
solutes. Water is attracted to and will follow the ions as they travel across
the cell membranes.
Attracting Plasma Cells:
We want plasma to be attracted to the inside of the cell but it won't happen by
just increasing potassium, it will be because we have the right balance of
Sodium and potassium. The goal should be to simply maintain the "normal," stable
environment that would have 55-65% of the fluid there anyway. Just as big a
factor, however, is Sodium's role in blood volume. Deficiencies in Sodium will
lead to a drop in blood pressure which means plasma (Water) has been pushed out
of the vascular system.
If it's not in your blood vessels, it's around them interstitially which means
subcutaneously. That, of course, means SMOOTH! This will then start a chain
reaction that will take days to remedy. When Sodium is dropped from the diet,
your kidneys will be influenced immediately by the hormone Aldosterone to
conserve Sodium from being excreted and remember; Water follows solutes. If
Sodium is being resorbed, then Water will be as well. You retain Water and with
the lower blood pressure, it's all under your skin instead of in your vascular
Take A Look At This Study:
NORMAL DIET LOW Sodium
1 day 2 days 6 days
Urinary Sodium 217 (mmol/day) 105 59 9.9
Aldosterone 10.4 (ng/100 ml) 11.7 22.5 37
Serum Sodium 139 (mmol) 139 139 138
Within one day of dropping dietary Sodium, excreted Sodium is cut in half and
continues to decline as more Aldosterone is produced. BUT, look at blood levels
of Sodium: they're conserved perfectly!! YOU CAN'T TRICK YOUR body! All you did
by cutting Sodium was screwed up the osmolarity of the cell membranes and you
won't know where the Water is going to go. If you keep your Water intake and
Sodium intake normal, your cellular fluid dynamics will stay normal. You'll
continue to flush excess Water and Sodium out of your body.
So, you ask, "What's normal?" The RDA for Sodium is a range of .5-2.4 grams per
day but other sources recommend up to 3.3 grams per day. The RDA for potassium
is 1.6-2.0 grams per day. One quick side note on potassium: excessive potassium
will also stimulate Aldosterone. Don't add potassium in amounts that place it
higher than Sodium intake.
Everyone, of course is a little different, and this is precisely why I don't
just "peak" clients. I have to have more than a week of working with them so I
can make and observe changes in their body before I detail out a perfect plan
for them as individuals. If you're going it alone, you also need some
self-practice to see what's right for your body.
I know you may be disappointed to hear all this talk about "normal," so I want
to give you a chance to manipulate a variable that WILL make a huge difference.
Since I won't let you whack your Sodium/potassium around, what other nutrient
could possibly affect Water balance in a very, very positive way??
Carbs. You already know that every gram of glycogen (stored
glucose/carbohydrate) attracts Water to it - 2.7 grams of Water to be exact.
Remember the "Water follows solutes" thing? Glycogen is a solute too. This is
why you get so full and feel so huge when your carbs are high. Your Water
content is high also. We already established that when your Water is low, you'll
experience the opposite: flat, soft muscles.
The real trick is to have enough carbs in your body to attract Water in your
muscle tissue to be full and hard, but you may have also heard the phrase
"spilling over" in relation to carbs. This is a legitimate concern. The average
adult can only store 375-475 grams of carbs in the body, about 325 of which
would be in the muscle (90-110 grams in the liver and 15-20 as blood glucose.)
When you consume too many carbohydrates, which is likely with a traditional
carb-up, the excessive glycogen ends up in the interstitial fluids, the Water
follows, and now there's another reason for the Water under your skin. How you
carb up, how much you carb up, and the foods you use are all factors in making
sure the glucose is in the muscle not outside. Combine this with Water intake,
Sodium/potassium intake, and even your training and you have the full picture of
how you will look on Saturday morning.
I know this is an incredibly complex subject, but if you read it, make notes,
sort it out, you'll see that peaking can be consistent and predictable, not a
gamble. I'll let you go back through the article to isolate the details but I
hope I have impressed upon you that dropping Water, eliminating Sodium,
increasing potassium, and carbing up hard are not only physiologically contrary
to your goals, but has been the sabotaging of your contest day! Try doing things
in concert with your body instead of trying to trick it and practice them
several times before contest day!
By: Joe Klemczewski
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