The Elite Physique

Drying Out and Peaking for Contest Day

The Truth About Drying Out and Peaking For Contest Day

Drying out and peaking for contest day is what makes for a great figure competitor who rocks the stage.  It also takes focus, dedication, good muscle quality, leanness, having the complete package, and hitting your peak at the right time.

Nothing looks more beautiful and sexy than an athlete who has trained hard, dieted smart and approached peak week properly, hitting the mark to display full muscle bellies with sweet definition.

drying out and peaking for contest day line-up of figure models

There is a path on peaking for contest day.  You see, many people may tell you that peak week is a myth or it’s about dehydration. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, could be further from the truth.

Peak week is a tapering process for serious competitors to reach a short-term peak. It’s all about hitting your mark. The correct dietary and water manipulation tactics you use the 7 days up to your show will get you that nice and dry look.

BUT… You can’t peak if your body fat is too high. This may be where a lot of people get confused. Nothing you do the last week before your show can help you if you are not lean enough a week out.

So, manipulating your diet and water can improve the look of a lean body. If your body fat is too high, you cannot peak. Simple enough? Good  Let’s discuss some details about peaking for contest day.

The Art of the Illusion

Drying out and peaking is a process.  So, get it out of your head that peak week will take you from zero to Olympic hero overnight. Vic Tringali M.S., C.S.C.S. at tells us, “Last week adjustments can make you look 2% better or they can make you look 10% worse.”  Peaking for contest day is a full weeks’ process.  It adds the finishing touch to highlight what you have, and all your hard work.

Think of it as shining up a car. A waxed car looks good, but if you buff the wax on with water and a buffer, and buff it off, the color and shine will come through much more crisp, giving the paint a deep and rich color. It’s the illusion you’re after. You didn’t actually make the paint deeper and richer. You added an illusion.

The overall concept of peak week is to remove water from under your skin and direct it into the muscles cells. Now, some people may say that there’s no water under the skin. Of course there’s water under your skin, it’s called subcutaneous water.

sub – under

cutaneous – skin

The Water Manipulation Trick

Your skin is made up of several layers and the epidermis and the dermis are the key ones when it comes to peaking and drying out. This is stuff we learned in grade school, but let’s do a quick recap…

1. The epidermis is the outer layer of your skin. It’s your protective shield.

2. Just under the epidermis lies the dermis, the busy layer which contains water, blood vessels, nerves, fat cells (ack), oil glands, sweat glands, hair follicles, connective tissue and the lymphatic system.

Water can also be stored in your muscle cells (intracellular muscle water). This is the area you want to direct the water so you get that full muscular, yet lean look on stage.

Drying Out and Peaking is Traffic Control – Pulling Water from Under the Skin and Driving it into Your Muscle Cells

Drying out and peaking is about water.  Muscle is roughly 75% water. That’s a pretty good percentage, and the more water you can send to your muscle cells on your big day, the fuller your muscles will be. What’s cool is that your muscle cells have the capacity of storing a LOT of glycogen. The trick is in how you apply the technique of redistributing water.

Here’s the “Trick” Laid Out

A week before your show you should be at your leanest and “ready.” This is the time you use dietary and water manipulation tactics to remove the subcutaneous water.

When you decrease the amount of subcutaneous water in the dermis, it can cause your skin to fit nice and firmly around your muscles. At the same time your muscle cells will hydrate.

This 2-fold action gives a shrink-wrap effect. The fully-hydrated muscles will push against your skin. With the water under your skin gone, you will have more pronounced muscle with nice detail and separation. It’s a pretty sweet process.

Many shun these tactics because they don’t understand the process or don’t know how to manage it properly and therefore just diet the same way from day one to contest day. That could work too, but don’t put that competitor next to the chick that implemented peak week tactics.

So, how does all this work the last week? It works through dieting and training in such a way that you arrange total muscle-HYDRATION (yeah, I said hydration) to prime your muscles and follow that up with glycogen depletion workouts, followed by reintroducing carbs.

Toss Cardio Aside

There’s no need in doing any cardio your last week. You won’t burn any more body fat at this point and you run the risk of injury and tearing down muscle fibers since you will be depleting. Also, too much high-impact cardio the last week will interrupt the priming process of peak week.  Remember, the last 7 days is NOT about losing fat, it’s about dialing-in.

Glycogen Depletion Workouts for Peaking

Peaking for contest day requires you do glycogen-pumping workouts.  When you are a week out from your show, stop training. You aren’t going to build any more muscle at this point and you aren’t going to lose any more body fat. Therefore, stop your standard weight training the last week to allow your muscles to recover and prime the process for filling them out.

When you are a week out, use those first 3-4 days and totally deplete your muscles of all the glycogen with high-rep, very short workouts. With very low carbs, this flattens your muscles out.

This flattening the process primes your muscles to receive carbs, and that’s when the magic happens. So go flatten your muscle and I mean flatten those babies out.

Sunday through Tuesday or Wednesday do high-rep glycogen depletion workouts. These workouts should take only about 15 minutes of your time. They are short workouts, about 2 exercises per body part, and pump out those reps girl.  You want to drive all the glycogen out your muscles and get them flat. No fancy stuff…no drop sets, no going to failure. Just pump.

Deplete Your Carbs for Drying Out

Eat up the Saturday before your show. Don’t go overboard, but eat a couple hundred more calories and about 100 grams more of carbs to prime the process. Drink up too. Drink a lot of water, up to 2 gallons, sister.

Sunday before your show start reducing your carbs slowly over the course of 3-4 days. By eating few carbs and doing muscle glycogen pumping workouts, your muscles become primed to receive carbs.

In fact, your muscles will be SO hungry for carbs and expecting them, that when you do re-introduce them, your muscles will suck them up. All those carbs, and any water and sodium attached to them will go directly to your hungry muscles, NOT under your skin.

As you go about your day watch the mirror after each meal. If you do well and your muscles fill out, keep up the carbs. If you seem to smooth out, lower the carbs.

How to Drink Your WaWa

Now, what about drinking water? Karen’s going to say dehydrate! I’ve NEVER used the word or ever told anyone to dehydrate. Go ahead and Google it. I’ll wait. Okay, you’re back? Great. Let’s get back to becoming a lean, mean, figure-ready machine. Yeah?

So, what to do what that water? If you want to dry out for your show, then start drinking 2 gallons of water the Sunday before your contest. This will flush your body of any excess sodium and toxins. It also primes your body for the carb-depletion and re-introduction process.

Drying Out and Peaking Requires Water – Water Serves 2 Purposes…

…to flush your body of excess sodium and to fill your muscles out. Timing and application are everything…

As the days pass, slowly lower your water intake. If you cut it off, or cut it too much too soon your body will rebound and hold water! You have to drink water right up to your show. How you do it and how much you drink is the trick. 😉 It’s all in the fact that you CAN trick your body, but only for so long. An extreme process HAS to be short-term.

By drinking a lot of water and slowly reducing it over the course of days triggers Aldosterone (A water retention hormone. It’s a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that is important for maintaining salt and water balance in the body.), to help with removing water from under the skin. If you drink water and suddenly stop, your body reacts by retaining water, thinking there’s a lack of it. Therefore, reduce it slowly.

You should start looking leaner and sharper around late Wednesday or Thursday. Each meal from then on you should be pulling in tighter and more detailed. You should see a dramatic shift in your body’s water balance by late Thursday or Friday. By Saturday you should be looking your best and ready to hit your mark.

Drying Out and Peaking for Contest Day

Drying out and peaking needs to be perfectly timed.  On the morning of your show you can sip water. Take a look at your physique in the mirror. If you look flat, have some simple carbs. If youred arrow pointing down look good eat a little protein and fruit.   By this time you are in complete control of your body and you can change it in just minutes by what you eat and how much you drink.

Avoiding peak week mistakes comes with some work.  It’s easy to make costly and last minute mistakes your final week.  You don’t want to screw up all your hard work only to make one little error a day or two before your show.  Seriously… It happens.

Now, if you want to be a part of the hottest fitness movement and compete on stage, you can.  Grab my FREE Contest Prep Crash Course and start making headway on your goals.  See below Angie’s Testimonial…

angie's testimonial for karen sessions figure competition secrets


Get FREE Insider Information...

Stop running around in circles.  If you really want to get stage-ready, super cut and dry on stage, you need to get in on the action.  You can do so by getting my FREE Contest Prep Crash Course.  Click the link below for immediate access...

FREE Contest Prep Crash Course

Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT

Get FREE Insider Information...

My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

More About Karen

Related Articles