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Peak Week – The Three Criteria Explained

June 15, 2023 / Contest Prep, Peak Week
Peak Week – The Three Criteria Explained

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.

NOTE: Chet and Natalie are both IFBB Pros, Judges and Coaches. Interested in working with both Chet and Natalie? learn more about their Coaching Methods and visit their Coaching Plans page.