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Bodybuilding - The Final Week

January 1st, 2010

Hours upon hours of eating, dieting, supplementing and training,…all year long. You’re a few weeks out and you look and feel incredible. You don’t see how you can lose your upcoming competition. Then, the final week rolls around and the science of the human body comes into play more than ever. You’re carb depleting/loading, water depleting, sodium depleting/loading. Finding the right mix for your body is crucial here. Having done my first competition not too long ago, I understood why everyone told me the first show was a learning experience. If you’ve never competed before there’s no way to know what to expect on how your body is going to react to this last week, especially if you’ve chosen the wrong approach.

Some people who are genetically gifted can simply reduce their calories (regular diet) the final week and then the last couple of days bring the calories back up; essentially, this whole time eating the same foods. On the other hand, some of us have to truly figure out what works and what doesn’t. This could potentially take a couple of years. Everyone’s body responds differently so you can’t just take what someone else did and think that’s going to work for you. Newsflash – IT WON’T WORK!

You’ve got to do your homework, talk to other people who have a similar frame and metabolism and read…read…read! Even when you’re working with a coach, it’s important to read because it will help you better understand why you’re body is going to make the changes it’s supposed to make. Your body is so clean and pure during this last week that anything you put into your mouth will make your body respond in some way and that way will be very visible – to everyone! A recent example of this was Tony Freeman at the 2009 Mr Olympia. Prior to the show he bumped his knee on a coffee table. He had to do something so he took a motrin. What happened? It slowed his metabolism down and he ended up competing with a full stomach and a slight film under his skin. He didn’t place well as a result.  All that hard work to be set back by one little pill.

There are great resources available that explain the final week in great detail. One book I found that I truly enjoyed reading was Justin Harris’s Comprehensive Performance Nutrition. It’s a quick reference Q&A guide that’s easy to read and follow. For my show last year I worked under Tim Gardner with Team Body Tech; Tim’s a wealth of knowledge and has brought many amatuer athletes to professional status. I’m not sure what competitions I’m going to do this year but I can tell you I’m most definitely still learning. If you feel you already know everything, you’re set-up for failure. There is always room for improvement and in this day and age with bodybuilding, you’ve got to stay on top of your game!

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