What is peak week?
Peak week is the final 7-10 days leading up to a competition. The purpose of peaking is to show up on the day of your event conditioned and with full muscles that will reveal a specific level of muscle definition based on your specific class (figure or bikini). This appearance is commonly known as the “shrink wrap effect”
When you ask someone who has done a few shows about peak week usually they say it was the most terrible time of their life!
The main reason it ends up being such a horrible experience is because they may have used drastic measures to try to dial it in the final weeks. And sometimes they followed extreme training measures their whole prep and peak week was just the final straw!
The most important thing to remember is that there is nothing you can do during the last week or that is going to fix something you haven’t already accomplished during your preparation. Technically, you should be ready to step on stage one week out.
What really should be happening the final week?
- You should be looking better each day – this is where your solid training comes into play.
- You should be losing a bit of excess water weight – with the right macro manipulation, the final water should be reduced significantly
- You should be looking “harder” – not like body builder hard, but definitely not soft like a swimsuit model.
- Your body fat should reduce some
- Your muscles should be getting rounder and more pronounced or separated.
If you follow a solid progressive figure or bikini prep program like mine, you won’t need to make any drastic changes to your regimen.
Here are 5 tips to have a successful peak week and bring in your tightest package!
- DO Adjust Water and Carbs Wisely
Many Competitors practice the technique of water depletion. You deplete water by reducing your liquid intake (from all sources) to practically nothing as they approach the contest. This approach is very dangerous, it is also ineffective.
The reason its ineffective is because muscle tissue consists of 70% water. If you restrict water intake drastically, you will lose muscle fullness and appear flat onstage. In addition, reducing water will increase the likelihood of muscle cramps while onstage (this happens quite frequently and is very embarrassing). It happened to me during my 2nd competition and I spent my time on stage grimacing and hearing folks yell “smile.” I was thinking, how I can be smiling when I am in so much pain?”
And the whole drink 2 gallons of water thing…you might want to rethink that too.
Newbie figure athletes sometimes believe water is what causes them to appear smooth. This is not totally the case. Water retention intracellularly (inside the cell) will cause athletes to appear hard and full. Subcutaneous (under the skin) water retention however, causes one to look smooth.
SO that means you need to get rid of water under the skin only and pull some water into the muscles to look harder and full.
How do you do that?
It can be tricky and you need to know the right way to pull water.
- DO Reduce Your Training Intensity
The final workouts and cardio need to be adjusted to avoid over training your muscles and them not showing up on game day! I suggest you train with weights Monday, Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. Depending on how you look; you might need to increase more cardio at the beginning of the week, but definitely cut cardio the final depleting portion of your peak week.
One point I want to make about weight training, specifically legs. They are the biggest muscle on the body and will take the longest to recover after workouts. Your muscles need to rest and recovery in order fill out on Saturday with your day of show meals.
Many times I suggest no leg training the final week, but you could do a light leg workout on Monday or Tuesday. Posing 30 minutes Mon-Friday will also affect the muscle separation, so in the end, decide your training based on how you look.
It’s time to rest and be ready to rock and roll on game day!
Get my detailed 7-Day Peak Week Plan <<< It includes the final training and cardio (and when to do them).
- Don’t Cut Sodium Too Soon
The misconception is that salt is bad for you the final days and many new athletes cut it out totally and usually too far in advance of their show. You need to understand that sodium is a much needed macronutrient as it regulates the blood pressure and water levels of the body. So instead of excreting this water via urination, your body will retain it to increase your blood volume and return your blood pressure to normal. Getting your water and salt levels correct are key to preventing coming in soft or getting sick.
If you are not holding water, cutting sodium is not even an issue.
Contest Prep Secrets covers the peaking process in depth and my 7-Day Peaking Plan gives more guidance on when to cut sodium if you are holding water.
- Know When To Carb Up
The night before your competition, you need to have a carbohydrate rich meal with a fatty protein like steak or salmon, cutting out fibrous veggies (if you are holding water). On the day of your show, you want to make sure you are eating enough carbs and not depleting before you hit the stage. I also suggest you experiment with what is the best carb or supplement for you to peak. Besides what you carb up with the timing is also important.
Really, the final 5-7 days of your eating plan need to allow an increase and deplete of your macros to come in full.
Get the final 7-Day Meal Plan <<< (included in the peaking program in Contest Prep Secrets)
- Reduce Your Stress (unless you want to look puffy on stage)
Stress on the body increases the hormone cortisol which tells the body to make more fat cells. The final week can be stressful if you let and this can cause you to look bloated and keep retaining water.
So my best advice to have a successful peak week is to be following a solid training program that focuses on building the right amount of muscle, reducing body fat and creating balance within your physique. This is ultimately what the judges want to see on stage.
Contest Prep Secrets <<< Peak Week Revealed!