When it comes to the week before a bodybuilding competition, you want to use everything in your power to become the best, shredded version of yourself. There are multiple ways you can do this and all of them are important to your competition success including nutrition, supplements, water and sodium, training, posing, and stage presence.
In terms of peak week nutrition, you want to focus the most on carbohydrates. Carb loading is a tried-and-true method for peak week, but you don’t want to overdo it. Front-load carbs towards the beginning of the week to avoid last minute reactions. Stick to less than three times your normal carb load to avoid your body going haywire. Protein can be lessened while you front load carbs and then returned to normal as you reduce your carb intake.
Be sure to avoid foods that your body is sensitive to such as a lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity. Limit veggie and fiber intake in the last 24 hours to avoid bloating from fiber fermentation. Keep your creatine intake stable. You don’t need to creatine load, which can cause bloating, but a consistent amount will help your muscles stay firm.
The Competition Stack
Supplements can help define and detail your physique. A typical competition stack includes BCAAs, creatine, beta-alanine, and CLA. BCAAs can help increase protein synthesis and aid in recovery. Creatine is well researched and can help to increase strength and cell fullness. Beta Alanine is known to increase strength and reduce fatigue. CLA can help burn fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. Most supplement stacks are unique to the person taking them, so it may take a few trials before you figure out what works for you. Whatever you decide on, your supplements should stay the same the week before the competition.
Water and Bloating
Water and sodium are commonly misconceived to be the major causes of bloating – so many people limit water and salt intake. To understand why this is wrong, you need to understand the basics of how water works in the body. Your body maintains 70% intracellular to 30% extracellular water in your cells. The intracellular water is the good stuff that makes your muscles full and firm. Extracellular water is the stuff that bloats. The problem is when you reduce your extracellular water, your body wants to keep the 70/30 ratio, meaning that you’ll also lose intracellular water. This means that all you’ll achieve in losing water is flattening out your muscles.
Deficiency in sodium can lead to double the amount of aldosterone, which causes reabsorption and retention of water and sodium. Elevated aldosterone leads to water retention in the subcutaneous layer that leads to more bloating, not less. Therefore, keep your water and salt intake the same the week of your competition to avoid bloating and to keep your muscles full and firm.
Posing and Stage Presence
Posing is about practice. You need to practice not just creating poses, but also holding them. Posing includes the symmetry round, the muscularity round, and optional poses. Symmetry includes front relaxed, side relaxed, back relaxed, and the opposite side relaxed pose. Muscularity includes front double biceps, front lat spread, side chest, side triceps, rear double biceps, rear lat spread, opposite side chest, opposite side triceps, hands-over-head abs, most muscular (hands on hips, hands clasped, and crab). The optional poses are side serratus and calf raise.
Stage presence is the last key to competition success. Everything about the day off is about vascularity. Apply bronzer outside in the sun to heat and increase vascularity. Bring a space heater and wear a sweat suit to keep you warm. Wear dark clothing to avoid staining from your tanning lotion. On stage, you want to look confident and happy. Smile. Enjoy yourself!
Packing: Competition Day Essentials
Preparing for a competition can be stressful and stress can lead to forgetfulness. Creating a packing list can help keep you organized and prepared. A back up suit can be helpful in case of wardrobe malfunction or stains. Spray on glue or Bikini Bite keeps your suit in place to avoid any embarrassing slips. Women should keep extra footwear or heels on hand if needed, and men should keep slip on sandals for back stage.
Bring extra tan, bronzer, makeup, haircare, and oil to avoid losing definition under the lights, and a couple of small towels can help clean up makeup and tanning messes. Bring jewelry and backups if something breaks. For out-of-town shows, keep toiletries on hand to wash off tan and makeup after the show. Bring light, loose clothing for before the competition that will avoid smudging off your tan. Dark clothing is a good option to keep stains out of sight.