Return to the Iron Dungeon
By Tom Venuto
Contest Prep: The Final Week Guideline
I've competed 20 times since 1989. Up until 1996 I had only take one overall. I was getting second place over and over again because I kept coming in just a bit too smooth and watery. Well, you know what they say; second place is nothing but the first loser, so through sheer disgust, I set out to find a way to correct this water retention problem. Through a process of trial and error, I finally came up with a protocol for the week prior to a show. It worked like magic every single time! I won two overall drug tested shows in 1996, and I took 2nd place out of 11 in my weight class (middles) in an open NPC show. (I'm lifetime natural)
You will need to play with the variables such as the quantity of water and the grams of carbohydrates based on your body weight and previous diet to find what works best for you. Of course, looking great on contest day assumes that you've completely stripped your body of fat during the months leading up to the final week. Nothing you do the final week will make a difference if you are still fat!
I'm sure there are many good types of herbal diuretics, but there are two that I've used successfully: "Diurtab" by Naturade (a subsidiary of Twinlab) and "Herbal Diuretic" by Naturade. Coincidentally, both brands have Uva Ursi as the primary ingredient and both also contain Shave Grass, Goldenrod, Parsley, Juniper berries, Watermelon seed, Cornsilk and Cubeb berries. I came up with the amount (12 tabs) strictly through experimentation, but I got the idea from the instructions on the "Diurtab" bottle: The bottle said the maximum dose was 12 a day, so I took 12 and it worked for me!
I find that you should look sharper every day from Wednesday through Saturday. There is a dramatic and noticeable shift in the body's water balance by Thursday. You should wake up Thursday morning looking very sharp. There is another dramatic shift when you wake up Saturday morning; you should look full, vascular and even sharper. There is a very delicate balance here: Too much water or any high sodium food will blow the whole thing.
This formula has never failed to work for myself or for any of my nutrition-coaching clients. I always lose 6-10 pounds with this plan (once I lost 14 lbs. between Sunday and the following Saturday). It's almost a drug-like effect. I've never had a problem with cramps. A word of warning: This protocol is designed for serious bodybuilders to achieve a temporary peak in cosmetic appearance for the day of a competition. If you have any metabolic disorders or health problems I wouldn't recommend this. Check with your physician if you're in doubt - but if you do, your doctor will probably have a fit: this can't be good for you and you'll feel like crap the whole week, but damn will you be SHREDDED!
- Sunday (six days out)
Carb deplete (70-100 grams). Drink 2-3 gallons of H20. You should be running to the bathroom constantly and your urine should be clear if you are fully hydrated (sorry, minor inconvenience). Normal pre-contest diet foods.
- Monday (five days out)
Carb deplete (70-100 grams). Drink 2-3 gallons of H20. Normal Pre-contest diet foods.
- Tuesday (four days out)
Carb deplete (70-100 grams). Drink 2-3 gallons of H20. Eat normal pre-contest diet foods.
- Wendesday (three days out)
Begin carbing up after training in the a.m. (350 grams). Very low sodium (drop the eggs, eat chicken and turkey only). White potatoes are a great carb up food. Drop H20 to 3/4 gallon, drink with meals. Last day of working out (a.m.). Take 400 mgs. of Potassium, 100 mg four times a day with meals.
- Thursday (two days out)
Continue carbing up (300 grams, more if you look flat). Keep very low sodium, Drop water further to 1/2 gallon. Take 400 mgs potassium, 100 mg four times a day with meals.
- Friday (one day out)
Continue carbing up (250-300 grams) bur back off carbs a little bit mid to late afternoon if you look completely full. If you look flat, then continue to eat carbs through Friday afternoon and evening). Drop water further to 1/4 gallon. Take 400 milligrams potassium, 100 mgs four times a day with meals. Start taking herbal diuretics; two tablets with each meal (12 total). Also take extra Vitamin C, 500 mgs every meal, and B-6, 250 mgs in the morning and 250 mgs in the evening. (Both are mild diuretics) Take 2 multi minerals, 1 morning, 1 evening. Continue with high protein intake, maybe even increase protein intake (mild diuretic effect). Drink one small cup coffee or even a glass of wine (diuretics) in evening.
- Satuday (Contest Day)
Drink very little water: sips only (but don't cut out water completely). Take in as close to zero sodium as humanly possible. For breakfast have a normal pre contest meal like oatmeal and egg whites. Then, "trickle in" carbs, maybe 50 grams every 1 1/2 hrs (potato- rice) all morning up to prejudging. If you get up at 6:00 a.m. and you get onstage at 1:00 pm, that's another 250 grams of complex carbs prior to pre-judge. Simple carbohydrates are ok prior to going onstage but I wouldn't recommend anything crazy. Personally, I do a couple of Rice cakes with jelly.