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The Effects of Water & Sodium Manipulation in Bodybuilding 2.0

April 18, 2019 / Contest Prep, Nutrition, Peak Week
The Effects of Water & Sodium Manipulation in Bodybuilding 2.0

WATER and SODIUM manipulation during Peak Week of your Contest Prep…why this common bro science protocol is a bad idea!

Bro Science

It’s Peak Week, and I think that we all can agree that we all have a common goal here…load as much water into the muscle cells while limiting the water underneath the skin (subcutaneous layer). That’s all fine and dandy, but lets separate fact from fiction. Rather, “Science” from “Bro Science”.

As I discussed last week, 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. It’s one of the most common reasons why so many physique competitors (Bikini to Bodybuilding) do not look their best on stage.

Let’s start with water…

Do you even Science, bruh?

Science tells us that we already hold 70% of water in our muscle cells and only 30% else where. I like that ratio. And if the competitor is lean enough and in proper show condition, he/she should too. Screwing with water and sodium would be the last thing one would want to do. Yet, “Bro” coaches will have you trying to manipulate this ratio during Peak Week (uh, out smart the body) by doing all kinds of weird stuff like cutting sodium, water (really screwing with your electrolytes here…but that’s another topic) and many times, taking diuretics in an attempt to “trick” the body into changing the 70/30 ratio that is already in your favor.

Here’s the problem. It’s called “Homeostasis”, which is the body’s “Tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.”

Did you catch that part? “tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium…” meaning, the body will fight to maintain equilibrium. In this case, try and manipulate the 70/30 ratio…you will lose.  Instead, when you cut water (keep in mind, the body will keep that 70% equilibrium…i.e., homeostasis), you’re cutting a lot of water out of the muscle cells too, the opposite of the goal of Peak Week.

Why you ask?!?!

“…If you’re dealing with a chemical system under equilibrium, any change to that system will then be met with a shift in the overall system to counteract the change and maintain equilibrium.”

Let’s put it in laymen terms. When you reduce your water, the body will still keep its equilibrium (70/30) so when you reduce the amount of water under the skin, your reducing MORE water from the muscles because the muscles hold more water in the first place. So now, your are left flat and stringy, not hard and full.

But that’s only half the story. What about the other half…sodium?

In short, sodium, just like water, is tightly regulated by the body too. When you cut your sodium, the body is going to fight to keep what it has been used to…at least for a few days. If your consumption of sodium decreases, the body will increase a hormone called “Aldosterone” in order to RETAIN as much sodium as possible in order to maintain equilibrium. So when you sodium deplete before a show, you will INCREASE a hormone that makes you RETAIN water.

Now, at first glance you might think, “well, then shouldn’t that keep the muscles full of water that was screwed up by decreasing water intake?”

Well, not exactly.

Aldosterone, the enemy within

Because you depleted your sodium, and caused rise in Aldosterone, you’ve now lowered your blood pressure which will prevent you from getting a good “pump” and can lead to dizziness and passing out. In addition, lower blood pressure means the kidneys will not have enough pressure to provide adequate water circulation through the body, so the water will leak into the subcutaneous layer. And if you think that raising potassium consumption will help…you’re right. It will help raise Aldosterone EVEN MORE…thus more subcutaneous water (under the skin).

So if you have even been told you weren’t lean enough, or need more conditioning, and you looked better before peak week…this is why, especially in the legs.

Congratulations…you now just totally ruined your physique that was on point a week ago, and turned it into a flat and soft mess on show day when all should have done is the exact same thing you were doing when you looked good…keeping your water and sodium levels the same the entire way through.

Remember, one of the key components of building and showing a great physique is consistency. What makes you look your best during prep and the initial stages of Peak Week, will make you look your best on the stage.

(Note: This is not in reference to a sodium load prior to hitting the stage. That’s a different subject.)