Peak Week, “The final week leading up to a bodybuilding contest and the sole purpose is to “fine-tune” the athlete’s physique for the grand reveal on the stage.” Although there is no specific definition of Peak Week, this statement summarizes it best.
The three criteria that must be met prior to Peak Week for a bodybuilder to optimize his or her peak are: being stage lean, knowing and stabilizing macronutrients, knowing and stabilizing sodium and water intake. If any one of these is lacking prior to Peak Week, your chances of peaking optimally greatly diminish. And if you are not already stage lean (the most important criteria), you will not be stage lean come show day; it’s not “magic week!”
Criteria 1: Your must be stage lean PRIOR to the beginning of Peak Week
This is your Number 1 Priority and can not be overemphasized. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT criteria. To peak properly at the right time, you must already be stage lean, and look your best “to date” during the final week before peak week begins. If not, criteria 1 and 2 will have little to no effect. Body fat should already be at its leanest. Lines should already be showing and prominent. We have judged over one thousand competitors over the last several years, and it’s safe to say that 80% of the athletes that reach the stage in local and National Qualifiers are not lean enough. That reduces slightly for National Shows.
There is an inherent, yet misguided belief, that most competitors head into peak week with a mind set of “once I lose all the water, I will look drastically different by the time I hit the stage.” However, that is nothing more than wishful thinking and setting up for failure. While losing some water weight can be effective IF YOU ARE ALREADY RIPPED AND STAGE LEAN, for most people it’s more body fat that needs to be lost. And that’s not going to happen during peak week. At least not enough to have influence on the naked eye.
Criteria 2: You baseline Macronutrients must be dialed in and stable
Knowing how many carbs, fats, and protein you consume daily is essential for proper peaking. Think of your macronutrient intake like a road map to your final destination. Or in this case, your final look. Your current location is the best indicator of the optimal path to get to that destination.
Understanding the amount of protein, carbs and fats and their individual physiological effect on your physique is imperative. For example, Fats are carb sparing. Carbs are protein sparing. Additionally, they are independent variables that can alter your physique – the more variables you change, the less predictable the outcome. Understanding the relationships and how to apply them on an individual basis can be the difference in being flat, hard, full, tight, or spilled. That can be the difference in first place or second call-outs. If your macronutrients are not known and stable prior to peak week, how can you plan and predict their effect on your physique leading up to the stage?
Something to consider here.
Carbohydrates have significantly more impact on peaking compared to protein and fat. And considering that carbohydrates take approximately 24-48 hours to fully assimilate, their timing is crucial the last couple of days. Load too many the day before or consume too much the day of your show can lead to spilling and/or a bloated core.
Criteria 3: Know your daily water and sodium intake
Knowing your sodium and water intake, and its stability leading up to peak week, is just as important, and for similar reasons, as your macronutrient intake. And just like your macronutrients, the longer they are stable prior to peak week, the less difficult they will be to manage. Water (and carbs) have a greater impact on fullness. Sodium has a greater impact on tightness. Think of of carbs and water as sledge hammers – minerals are like finishing hammers.
Remember, the only time water will cause spillover is if you carb load too much that excess glucose attracts water outside the muscle cells. But even without much water intake, to many carbs will still cause spillover; water is not the root cause.
You have put in a lot of demanding work, dedication, resources and made a lot of sacrifices on your journey to the stage. If you do not meet these three criteria leading up to peak week, perhaps consider pushing your show out to a later date.
If you are going to do this, do it right.
Peak Week, your last chance to put all the pieces together to deliver your best physical possible once you hit the stage. It can make or break even the best competitor. Nail your peak, and you will be walking off the stage with your head held high. However, even the slightest miscalculation can leave you disappointed and take a physique destined for First Place, thrown into a Second Call-Out placement.
Before you read any further, you need to understand what the “variables” are that we discuss in each strategy. Variables are the things we use to alter our physique during Peak Week and Show day.
Peak Week nutrition variables includes:
· Sodium · Potassium
NOTE: When going through these methods, keep in mind that it typically takes 24-48 hours for carbohydrates to fully assimilate.
Your week starts off with three to four days of carb depleting followed by three days of carb loading with cutting water the last two days. As the carb loading increases, water will start to be pulled. This creates an environment where the competitor start to get really flat, which is often misunderstood as a lack of carbohydrates. As a result, carbs continue to be increased as the competitor flattens out further. Since it takes carbohydrates 24-48 hours to fully assimilate, the consumed carbs cannot be converted by gluconeogenesis and shuttled into the muscles fast enough resulting in the competitor being flat if not enough carbs where consumed and resulting in spillover if too many carbs are consumed. The high concentration of glucose present out-side of the muscle cells, with the low remaining water in the body due to decreasing water, is pulled outside the muscle and under the skin, leaving the competitor flat and potentially a little watery.
This is an old school approach that is being phased out by most coaches. The water and sodium depletion is extremely dangerous. You have probably heard stories of competitors using this approach and looking better the day or to after their show, claiming they just “missed” their peak. Once the show is over and the competitor goes out and consumes a lot of food (and a lot of sodium with it), and a lot of fluids, the competitor will look their best the following morning. This is a very aggressive approach, VERY high risk, high reward, and low predictability due to rapidly changing variables with little to no time to observe and correct since you aim to have your highest carb day on the day before the show.
FRONT LOAD PEAKING
Your week starts off with carbs higher than usual. Protein and fats should typically stay consistent, but may be a little lower when carbs are at their peak. We are looking for a little bit of spillover to ensure we find the tipping point. Carbs should be lowered the following three to four days to clean up the spill. You should start looking a little crisper with improved definition. The next day or two, carbs are increased to tighten you up. This is common for bikini, figure and wellness competitors.
This is a conservative approach, low risk, moderate reward, and moderate predictability. Though variables change rapidly, you do have a day or two to observe and adjust should spillover occur before show day.
MID LOAD PEAKING
Your week starts with carbs at its lowest, and gradually increasing to their highest level when you are two or three days out. Protein and fats may be a little lower on the highest carb days. There should also be a little bit of spilling the last day of your carb up. Use the last one or two days to clean the spill and tighten you up. This is common for bikini, figure, wellness and Men’s Physique competitors.
This is a fairly conservative approach, moderate risk, moderate reward, and moderate predictability. Though variables change on a slow and steady approach early in the week, they change rapidly two to three days out, but you do have at least a day to observe and adjust should spillover occur before show day.
BACK LOAD PEAKING
This is very similar to old school Conventional Peaking without water and sodium depletion. The week starts with very low carbs to fully deplete glycogen from your muscles. This should continue for three to four days with rapid carb increases the next two to three days before show day. We are looking for glycogen supercompensation during the carb up phase, right up to show day. Protein and fats should be at their highest while depleting, then dropped during the loading days. This is common for men’s bodybuilding and classic physique and women’s bodybuilding and physique where more extreme levels of conditioning are necessary.
This is a very aggressive approach, high risk, high reward, and moderate to low predictability due to rapidly changing variables, glycogen dynamic change, and little to no time to observe and correct since you aim to have your highest carb day on the day before the show.
BACK LOAD PEAKING WITH A CLEAN UP DAY
This follows the same path as Back Load Peaking, except for hitting your peak one day out, leaving a day of carb reduction if “slight” spilling occurs. This reduces the risk a little and slightly increases predictability. But because the back loading is so extreme, if spill over is more than slight, you will still not have enough time to clean it up. This is common for men’s bodybuilding and classic physique and women’s bodybuilding and physique where more extreme levels of conditioning are necessary.
This is a very aggressive approach, high risk, high reward, and moderate predictability due to rapidly changing variables, glycogen dynamic change. There is slightly more predictability than standard backload peak due to the clean up day which gives a little time to observe and correct.
RAPID BACK LOAD PEAKING
Your week starts with a slight increase in carbs for one to two days, followed by four to five days of glycogen depletion. This is a carb depletion phase, not a calorie depletion phase. In fact, you should be no more than a couple of hundred calories below, or above, your normal dieting calories prior to peak week. This should continue until the day before the show when the rapid-carb loading begins.
We are looking for glycogen supercompensation the last 24-hours before taking the stage. Protein and fats should be at their highest while depleting, then dropped during the loading days. Carb intake is so high (extreme amounts over 800 carbs the day before she show is common) and the process is so fast that this is one of the very few times that potassium loading may be involved, in a VERY SPECIFIC way. You start with your potassium load first thing in the morning, then sodium later in the day.
This is an EXTEMELY AGGERSSIVE, EXTREMELY HIGH RISK, HIGH REWARD, and very low predictability since you are allowing little no time for observation and adjustments and variables change dramatically. Even with a clean-up day tagged at the end, the carb intake is so high, one day clean-up is not enough and can lead to a bloated appearance in the core, even if spillover does not occur. However, the reward for perfect timing is extremely high and produces the most extreme levels of hardness and tightness IF the competitor is lean enough.
NOTE: Rapid Backload Peaking was developed by Cliff Wilson, which took him about 10 years to perfect. It is EXTREMELY difficult to pull off and you really need to be dialed into the competitor and have an excellent eye. Potassium use in this method must be damn near perfect, and is timing based. Time it wrong and blurring will occur, the core can give the appearance of some bloating, and in some instances sickness can occur. It should be noted that Cliff adamantly states, “This should only be used for the most extreme levels of conditioning such as Men’s and Women’s Bodybuilding only, not suitable for other divisions.” The risk it to high when other protocols can give the same or better results for levels of less extreme conditioning are required, with less risk to the competitors physique. Though it may be something to look at for Women’s Physique in the NPC/IFBB as this division has increased the level of conditioning the last couple of years.
PROGRESSIVE LINEAR LOAD PEAKING
Peak Week begins with a slight modification to calories, usually with an increase of carbs. Prior to Peak Week, the competitor should already be increasing calories as stage lean has been achieved for some time now. Muscle glycogen is full, but not quite at full capacity, and the competitor is now less sensitive to carb increases.
When Peak Week begins, a simple increase of 15-25g of carbs may be all a competitor needs. Protein and fats typically remain consistent, or slight variation. Each day, the competitor should start looking a little fuller and tighter. By two to three days out, the competitor should be at or near his/her peak. For the remaining one to two days, a slightly larger increase in carbs, maybe fats, may be used with an increase in sodium to fine tune the physique. By the night before the show, the competitor should be at or near full glycogen capacity.
The chance of spillover is low due to the drop in sensitivity to carb adjustments, and the adjustments themselves are slight. By show day, food intake is primarily used to keep the competitor from getting too hungry, with some benefit to maintaining fullness. Sodium and water are the main variables to put the finishing touches on fullness and tightness. This is a conservative approach, exceptionally minimal risk, high reward, and high predictability since you are allowing time all through Peak Week for observation and adjustments. Changes to variables are usually subtle.
If the competitor is still dieting down prior to peak week, a little more aggressive carb increase(s) may be need the first few days or so, perhaps a fats as well.
NOTE: Progressive Linear Load Peaking was developed by Dr. Joe Klemczewski and can be used for all levels of conditioning. Best used when competitors reach stage lean early and are already in a state of reverse dieting. It is an innovative approach developed in just the past few years, but its popularity is on the rise resulting from its high level of success and minimal risk, high reward, and high predictability methodology.
Online Training has taken the Prep Coach career to a new level. How it works differ from coach to coach. Many coaches only allow check-ins once a week, and may even ask you to hold all questions until then, and there are a few that allow for 24hr communication. Some will give you a workout program that is shared by others, and some will customize them for you.
When you are looking for a coach, you should do your homework. Look at it like you are conducting an interview and be prepared to have your list of questions ready. Below are a few questions you should ask every coach you interview.
- How does the Online Training work? What will I get? We have partnered with Trainerize and have a software program that houses everything we do, all from an app on your phone. Workout Programs, Nutrition Plans, Progress Pictures, Internal Communication, Notifications, volume and PR tracking, Check-ins, the works. We are able to monitor everything, every day of the week if necessary (like the final stages of Contest Prep). We also sync My Fitness Pal with our tracking software so you don’t have to report your nutrition to us…we see it everyday. We see your macros, calories, even things like sodium and fiber. If you record it, we see it. We are also in the process of syncing with the iWatch as well. We also see your weight everyday so we can analyze, based on trends, if you are progressing appropriately. So, there is no need for you to perform check-ins, other than progress pics once a week (in clothing you are comfortable in), because we are checking on everything already about 3-4 days a week. And it’s all done from the convenience of your phone.
- Will my workout program be customized for me individually, or do you have several pre-written ones you chose from? Every single program we build is customized for the individual based on their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, the program will change as you progress. But here is how we do it. The foundation of our programs are somewhat the same for everyone. We start with 3 or 4 main compound lifts depending on what your goal is (squats, deadlifts, benchpress, barbell overhead press, barbell hip thrust, etc.). The part that is similar to all is that you will be performing each lift twice a week. One day will be strength training, the 2nd day will be hypertrophy training. However, that is where the similarities end. From there, the additional exercises are based on your needs, strengths, weaknesses, goals and health. As you progress, we modify your workout in the form of sets, reps, tools (super sets, drop sets, FST7, Blood Flow Restriction, High Volume sets, etc.) and can change the density, intensity and volume of the lifts as well. I guess you could say that your workout program grows as you do. No two workouts are ever a like…cookie-cutter doesn’t exist in our vocabulary.
- Will I get a Meal Plan or is your nutrition plan based on Macro Counting: We typically do not do meal plans, nor do we recommend them. Current scientific research tells us that Restrictive Dieting (meal plans) are not sustainable and have a higher risk associated with eating disorders than Flexible Dieting. That is not to say that meal plans do not work, they do…and for many people. But the data shows us that that there is a high correlation between Restrictive Dieting and binge eating, and even self regurgitation which can lead to eating disorders. Anytime food choices are limited, the risk increase. In addition, meal plans are not sustainable. We prefer Flexible Dieting which allows you to control the types of food you eat, as long as you hit your Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat and Fiber goals. It’s much more sustainable and more pleasant. We will set your Macro goals for you, and modify them as needed depending on your goal (fatloss, muscle gain, contest prep, etc). No need for guess work, no restrictions, just eat the food you like and we will tell you how/when to adjust as much as needed. You can even use the style of diet you like. Want to stick with “clean eating”, “Keto”,” Snake Diet”,”Vegan” etc..have at it. Again, just chose the food you want and hit your goals and you are compliant. Our Nutrition Plans are just like our workout plans. Completely individualized and are modified as you progress.
- Do you recommend a lot of cardio? If so, how much do you typically recommend? Cardio recommendations are actually include in the nutrition plan. The reason…we don’t base your Workout Plan on cardio. Cardio should be used as a tool, not as the bases of a workout program. Too often we see other coaches loading up clients with a lot of cardio…this is not recommended…especially during the offseason. Granted, some cardio is necessary and of course healthy. However, you don’t need to do it. Just think about it from a logical perspective. The more cardio you do in the offseason, the less effective it will be during Contest Prep because your body is already adapted to it. This is precisely why so many competitors end up doing hours and hours and hours of cardio when they need their energy the most. So we keep cardio to a minimum and only use it as a tool when needed.
- How often can do I check in with you? You can check-in, communicate with us all you like. It’s 24/7. For example, you can wake up in the middle of the night with a question, message us (we have our own internal messaging system, so no outside interference) then go back to bed. Weekends, day, night, holidays, whenever. And no, we are not just going to let them build up and only answer certain days, times the week. Granted, if we are with clients, in a meeting, it’s is family night, we are sleeping, have company, etc…we will have the system on silent. But anytime we are free, we will constantly be checking. Rarely will a question go unanswered within the same day (weekends included) unless it’s really late when you message us and we have gone to bed. Even then, we usually check our messages before bed as we like all messages clear at the end of the day. Not too mention, we don’t like a bunch of messages building up….it’s not good for time management.
- I want to learn as I am being coached, can I ask questions like “why do you have me doing xyz?” First off, I can tell you from personal experience that these types of questions typically generate the “trust the process response.” We DESPISE that phrase. Look, you are paying us for service as a coach, and a coach is also a type of “teacher” if the coach is performing their duty correctly. You will NEVER get the “trust the process” response from us unless it is immediately followed by “and here is why…” We see to it as our job to teach you as you move along. One, the more you understand the reason you are doing something, the more effort you will put into it. The less you understand the “why” the more likely enthusiasm will not be there, and effort decreases. It’s just human nature. Why would you put in 100% effort if you don’t know/understand the return on your effort is optimal? Not too mention, we don’t plan on being your coach for life. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to the point where you had to ability to build your own program and know how to adjust your own nutrition plan by yourself? I think the answer to that is yes. Now, that’s doesn’t mean we are going to sit down with you and have “school”. But if you have questions…ask. It’s what we are here for.
- Will you be my coach or will somebody else do it for you? We (husband and wife team) do all of our own work. Nobody does it for us. Nobody answers the questions but us. We do it all.
- How much does it your Online Training cost? We have three plans that you can find here. The one that is most typically used is the Off Season, because most competitors who come to us have building to do on their physiques and with their metabolism, that runs $199 a month. None of the plans have a set-up fee, contract or initiation fee. Just a flat rate on a month to month basis. You can cancel anytime, but you must do so 7 days before your next due date (the system sets it up on automatic payments).
- How do I get started, whats next? Just send an email to Coach Chet or Coach Natalie. Tell us what you are interested in and give us a couple of days/times you are available for a free consultation (by phone if you are not in the local Boise area). We will respond back with an email invitation to set up a temporary account (don’t worry, there is no obligation and no payment information needed) so you can fill out our online questionnaire. In addition, we will load your account up with a sample workout program (it’s basic, but will allow you to see how we work) and a sample nutrition plan. This will allow you to try things out a bit before we talk. It will also give us a little bit more information about you (the questionnaire) and allow you to come up with questions yourself.
the Bro Science protocol of water and sodium manipulation during Peak Week can wreck havoc on your physique and should be avoided at all cost.
Peak Week water and sodium manipulation is counter productive and completely unnecessary. Don’t mess up your show physique with this common mistake.