Comp Prep Guide

The Most Common Peak Week Mistakes

October 27, 2017

Layne Norton discusses some of the most common peak week mistakes made by competitors. He discusses sodium & water manipulation as well as carb manipulation and what role they should play in a proper peak week.

“Hi guys, today we're going to talk about contest prep, specifically ‘peak week’.

I've coached over 500 people over the last ten years for contest prep. One of the things I became really known for is that I don't have people cut water and I don't have them really cut sodium.

I do things a little bit differently and I have a lot of videos and articles out there talking about how I do things. I want to go over some of the reasons why I do peak week different than other people.

The first reason is that when you try to modify a bunch of variables at once, your body is always fighting for homeostasis and whatever you do, your body's going to push back against you to push you towards homeostasis.

When you look at something like muscle tissue (which has 70% water), if you cut water and reduce water intake while you have 70% water inside the muscle and about 30% extra cellularly you will lose water from the extracellular, the subcutaneous layer. You will also lose it from the muscle tissue and in the same proportion.

This is what we call Chatelier’s Principle. So if you remove water, yes some water will come out subcutaneous layer. But because of the proportion 70% versus 30%, more water is going to come out of the intracellular layer.

Muscle tissues are hard and what gives muscles that hardness and fullness is the water that is retained within that muscle and your vascular system.

My next point with the vascular system and vascularity is Sodium. People cut sodium and it's actually one of the worst things you can do.

If you want to look great on stage and want to be really vascular, you need sodium. There's actually a study that was done at Harvard about 30 years ago where men had to eat a low sodium diet for about a week. They later looked at their blood levels of sodium, their urinary sodium, their levels of aldosterone which is a hormone that makes you retain water and what they found was that their blood sodium levels didn't change when they depleted them of sodium for six days.

What did happen was that their urinary levels of sodium went to almost zero. Your kidneys are like a filtration apparatus with regards to urine and they basically decide what goes in and what goes out of the body. They also filter what comes back, what gets reabsorbed. If you lower your sodium intake, the hormone aldosterone goes up so they kidney will reabsorb sodium. What they showed was that by day two of a low sodium diet, aldosterone had doubled.

The coaches have their clients start to cut sodium about two days out. So you are hitting the stage with doubled the hormone that makes your retain water because you can't just reabsorb sodium by itself you have to reabsorb it with water.

Because you've been eating lower sodium your blood pressure is going to be lower and you're not going to have the pressure to keep that water in your vascular system and it can leach into the interstitial layer.

So congratulations, you've taken water from where you like it in the intracellular and put it exactly where you don't want it which is the subcutaneous layer.

You then end up softer and flatter and less vascular. I'm sure many of you, especially bodybuilders, have had trouble getting a pump on show day. If you've cut sodium in water, it'll be almost impossible to get a pump when you're pumping up. I have so many people tell me this and it blows my mind.

These people who are cutting water and sodium will have a cheap meal after their show and then post pictures of them looking super hard and vascular. They'll be like ‘oh man, I just didn't carb up enough’ when they were eating like 500 grams of carbs the few days before the show.

It wasn't the carbohydrates you had after your show that made your body change, it was the water and sodium intake and that's what made you hard and vascular.

After cutting sodium when you're trying to load those carbohydrates, the glucose transporter in your intestine is sodium dependent. It’s been shown in research that if you eat a low sodium diet the activity of that transporter decreases so now not only do you have fluid in your vascular system, less fluid in your intracellular. The carbs that you're pushing in to try to increase muscle glycogen you're not even giving the maximum benefit of those carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are undigested material in the intestine. If they're not getting brought across at a good rate, the intestine doesn't just let solutes sit there, it pulls water in to dilute those solutes.

You've pulled water into your GI which can make you feel bloated and have GI distress. I've heard this from a lot of people as well that they had stomach aches on show day.

One other thing is I noticed people eating broccoli backstage and that is idiotic for multiple reasons.

My clients don't even touch fiber 24 hours before their shows. Now don’t get me wrong, fiber is great, it is fantastic, it makes you feel full. However the reasons fiber makes you feel full is because it pulls water into your GI and makes you feel very full.

If you've ever eaten half a pound of broccoli at one sitting because you were really hungry, you probably felt really full and very bloated afterwards. You don't want to have that feeling on contest day.

Any calories you're ingesting, you want it to be light and calorically dense but also want them to be low in fiber because you want your waistline, gut and GI to feel very empty.

You are going to want to use low residue sources of carbohydrate near show day.

Now leading up to that, you want to make sure you’re eating enough fiber. But minimize your fiber intake at least 24 hours before show day and that's going to keep extra fluid out of your GI tract. Its going to make you feel less bloated and you will feel lighter on show day.

I try to make sure that my clients are going to be in a really good position, I'm not going to screw them up in peak week.

I see a lot of coaches change 5 billion things during the last week and it's all very bad. Nobody has a special secret trick, you're not going to outwit a million years of evolution in terms of maintaining homeostasis even if you're doing a diuretic as it can't pick which compartment it's going to pull fluid from.

I can show you dozens of pictures of clients that were absolutely shredded with water and sodium intake for peak week.

It's about getting lean enough and making small tweaks in the final week where you push the water a little bit to where we want it to be but you're not gonna get some crazy increase of 50% more muscle glycogen or 50% more fluid in the vascular system.

There are no tricks like that and it’s not how this works. It's about using science and scientific principles and monitoring your client and knowing what they respond to and what food works best with their GI to help put them in a position to try and get a little bit more on show day.

Hope this video has been useful, if you want more information you can check out my website

General Comp Prep Peak Week