Achieving the best possible physical condition for a contest in the last few weeks/days leading up to show day is one of the most hotly debated topics among competitive bodybuilders. Cutting water, manipulating sodium, decreasing the training load, fat loading, carbing-up, along with many other variables are all things that can be tinkered with to achieve a certain look. Whether or not the ‘ideal’ look is achieved when manipulating these factors comes down to individual physiology, experimentation, timing and very often, luck.
As with all information in the world of bodybuilding, peaking recommendations are often contradictory depending on who you listen to or what you read, and it can be agonising going into one’s first contest not knowing what to do. Yes, I could have paid a few thousand dollars to have a coach give me advice over the internet, but I thought the time and money would be better invested doing it for myself the first time out. That way, I’ll learn along the way, from both my successes and failures.
Being a natural bodybuilder, I’m always weary of the recommendations thrown out to and by, our “assisted” brethren in the game. Where dealing with apples and oranges comparisons here, and not to disparage the chemically assisted because I know for fact they work just as hard as anyone else, there is a certain amount of leeway and assistance provided by these compounds that we as naturals don’t have.
One guy who has really influenced my thoughts going into this comp is the writings of natural pro Layne Norton. I contacted Layne a couple of times way out from this contest to ask him if he could coach me, but the prick never replied to any of my emails. ( 🙂 ) His Peak Week series on Bodybuilding.com is very informative, and takes a conservative approach to peaking, as opposed to manipulating things that are normally advocated like sodium and water. He asserts that making major changes more often than not backfires, leaving the competitor looking better AFTER the show than before it.
I also contacted Martin Berkhan of Leangains fame, but also no reply at all. Maybe blessings in disguise, since I’ve been able to keep the cash I would have gladly paid for both these guys’ services in my pocket, as well as having to learn a lot on my own.
One guy who has been extremely helpful in my journey due to his advice and writings on the T-nation forums is natural WNBF pro, Stu Yellin (who goes by the name of Mighty Stu on the forums) This guy is also a teacher, and a pure class act when it comes to helping others and dispensing advice. His journey from novice to professional has been inspiring to say the least, and I have devoured his amazing contest prep threads for tips on the T-nation forums.
A well known article to peaking on the T-nation site is Thibeaudeau’s ”6 Days To Shredded Article”, but having followed it to the letter years ago when trying to peak for some personal photos, I found that on the day I was flat, couldn’t get a pump and was stringy as hell. Maybe it works for some, but for me it was disastrous. I think all in all, I’m not going to touch sodium and water from here on out. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and try to have fun on the day instead of worrying about the tiny details.