Let’s talk about peak week protocols.
Most people associate the days leading into a show with high carbs, water loading (then no water at all), lots of sodium (or none) and physically feeling like a zombie! This shouldn’t be the case.
Our top three peak week protocols include:
1. Physical and mental rejuvenation: You’ve spent 12, 16, 20+ weeks training hard and possibly working in a calorie deficit the entirety of this time. At this point, the hard work is done.
Ideally, we should be stage-ready 1-2 weeks out from the show so we can spend our peak week replenishing, reducing stress and cortisol levels and reducing inflammation or water retention as a result.
We should be resting the mind and body so we can step on stage in peak condition. Training stimulus should remain the same though volume will be lowered slightly.
We want to continue to train, concentrating on contracting with each exercise to pull glucose into the muscles and fill up. However, we should stop heavy training and leg days the Mon-Tues before a Sat show to avoid inflammation.
2. Replenish fuel substrate or ‘carb up’: We want to increase calories from fats and carbs to give us the energy we need, to ‘fill’ the muscles after depletion, and replenish fats to boost hormones.
An extreme carb up is not necessary. You will fill your body’s glycogen storage capacity and any excess carbs will lead to a ‘spill-over’. This will make you look watery, puffy and excess carbs will then be stored as fat.
Carbs should increase to a moderate amount, aiming for 4-5g per kg lean body mass and the two days leading into a show should be low carb, depleting rather than carbing up the night before so we avoid the risk of exceeding our glycogen storage and spilling over on show day.
It can take up to 3 days to reverse the effects of a spill-over so, give yourself some wriggle room. It’s easier to carb up if you are feeling flat before the show than it is to try and reduce the impacts of excess carbs.
3. Minimise excess fluid retention: During peak week, water and sodium should remain relatively the same!
Sodium restriction has very little impact on blood sodium levels so making adjustments to sodium in your diet will have little effect.
Similarly, water depletion is not necessary and it can be very difficult to achieve successful results when dehydrating by limiting water intake.
The optimal way to reduce any excess fluid retention is through sweat! A full-body circuit and/or sauna session to reduce extracellular water and sodium. This keeps vital water and sodium levels in the cells – the muscles, so we do not come in looking flat.
Finally, ensure your magnesium and potassium levels are optimised.
Peak week should not be overly stressful, physically or mentally!
Reduce water and sodium, but only slightly. Reduce training volume, but continue to train. Sweat it out, enjoy a moderate increase in carbs and implement personal de-stressing protocols. Massages. Music, meditation… Practice posing and visualise stepping on that stage!
The hard work is done at this point. Just enjoy it!
Yours in health,
Lauren Killey / Clean Health Personal Trainer
Clean Health Fitness Institute
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