Comp Prep Guide

The Science Behind Peak Week

January 01, 2019

Competitor and coach Paul Revelia explains the science behind Peak Week, including tips and advice on water depletion, sodium manipulation and carb loading. Relevant for Bikini, Figure and Bodybuilding competitors.

In today's video, we’ll talk about the ’Science Of Peaking’.

Hey guys what's going on, this is Paul Revelia from In this video we're going to review the science of peaking because there was a study done on peak week, the science of peaking for a bodybuilding competition.

There's not a lot of research out there on this topic so I was very excited when I got this month's issue of ‘Mass’ magazine.

Three experts have reviewed the research that's out there.

A study was done in 2016 and 2017 in British Natural Bodybuilding where they sent a questionnaire to a bunch of the competitors and asked them questions related to their peaking process and peak week.

They found that most of the people actually did some sort of manipulation with carbohydrates, with sodium maybe even potassium going into their show.

So I want to talk to you guys about the science of peaking, what I've learned and how I approach things now.

I'm going to give you specific examples of how I handle peaking for myself, for my clients and where I got that information from.

One of the things that the article discusses is manipulating water and manipulating sodium. Let’s talk about the science behind that.

The thinking was that by manipulating water and sodium you could actually remove fluid from the intra cellular layer in our skin. You've probably heard people talking about the thin skin look. Well you cannot manipulate the water just in that area. Outside of sweating you're not going to lose water just underneath the skin.

When you lose water from the body, you dehydrate the body. The body keeps the same relative balance, meaning if there's intramuscular water you're gonna lose that water.

Also in the vascular system our blood has a lot of water in it so when you dehydrate the body, you basically lower blood pressure.

On show day you may notice that you or someone had a really tough time getting a pump, well it comes down to blood pressure. You don't have enough fluid volume in your blood to get a good pump so that's the real big issue that I've learned over the years.

Anybody that's been to the gym and just not felt good that day, look at your hydration and your sodium intake for that day and the day leading up.

You've probably noticed there was a drop-off of some kind which causes the biggest issue with these types of measures that do take a big manipulation very close to show day.

As you get very, very lean your blood pressure drops, your blood pressure lowers, your heart rate lowers so it can be harder to get a pump.

It's very important that we are not risking that after months of work. You don't want to get on stage and not look your absolute best.

What is the best approach? Well I'm going to give you my opinion.

First things first, the article mentions that water manipulation has decreased over the last couple decades in bodybuilding but I would slightly disagree with that.

This study was done in British natural bodybuilders. I will agree that natural bodybuilding has been progressive in its thinking as far as manipulating water, sodium and carbs are concerned.

Dr. Joe Klemczewski years ago, brought to the attention of the natural bodybuilding world that you do not need to do these manipulations, you do not need to risk pulling out water and pulling out sodium.

In fact if you do that you're not going to look your best on show day. However, Dr. Joe was focused on the natural bodybuilding world.

I still feel that in the NPC and the IFBB, the most well known coaches are still giving their clients plans that include pulling water and sodium out, making them feel like crap for the last couple of days going into a show. I know this because I work with a lot of those people and I've seen their other peaking plans. I've kind of fixed them and resolved them.

I've had clients that were never really successful at Nationals and then I was able to get them a pro card. I'm not tooting my own horn here but I just want to get the information out that there’s possibly a better way and I certainly don't feel like manipulating water is going to be a good method for show day.

One thing that manipulating water does do is if you're not lean enough then you might temporarily look a little bit better.

All of us have gotten in a sauna and gotten out and feel like we look better. Well that’s a temporary change, that's not something that's sustainable. And we're talking about competing, where you don't have access to a sauna, you might be standing around backstage for hours, you don't know when you're going to pump up, what time you're getting on stage.

In an ideal situation maybe you could do some type of manipulation of fluids with a sauna or something like that but we don't have that luxury at a bodybuilding show.

You need to look great all the time and we can do that by truly being stage lean.

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