Peak week refers to the seven days before the contest in which the physique athlete makes adjustments to diet, water consumption, and workouts in an effort to come into the show in peak physical form. If contest prep were a marathon, peak week would be an uphill finish. Through a snake-infested rockfield, over precarious ground that spontaneously emits poisonous spore clouds and bursts into flame.
Saturday of peak week we started water loading. This does not mean courting hyponatremia by gavage hydration, as some would think. For me, this means drinking 2 gallons a day, not including coffee or tea. Water loading continues till Monday. Also on Saturday, I completed my last regular strength workout. Going forward, I’ll be doing only cardio, circuit training, and posing practice.
Today, Sunday, was special because I got to have my last carb-loading refeed until the end of the week. Pancakes are my go-to for carb loading because that’s what works to fill my muscles out post-refeed. Blueberry pancakes this time, with blueberry compote and whipped cream. CARBS. All the carbs.
Monday we begin the journey to the pain cave…I lose all carbs except fibrous veggies (I’ll eat asparagus, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers). My diet will be chicken breast, white fish, egg whites, and those veggies for the rest of the week.
Workouts for the week will be a.m. cardio, a daily strength-training circuit, second cardio 3 days/week, and lots of posing (which is essentially isometric holds and MUCH harder than it looks). Dropping carbs means workouts will suffer as muscles become glycogen-depleted. And that’s OK. It’s part of the plan, and it’s temporary.
Tuesday we enter the pain cave for reals, when we start dropping water by 1/2 gallon a day. By Friday, we’re down to less than half a gallon. The goal is “hard, dry, and tight”…exactly what every 40-something woman strives to be. Heh. On the bright side, we are getting our nails manicured and our eyebrows shaped, so we may feel like an apple doll in progress, but we’ll look fabulous.
Thursday, we do our last cardio and workout sessions. And we get to pick up our finished competition suit. (Which, I have to say, is gorgeous. It’s also so small it looks like it would fit my cat.) Also we make a run to Target for the 30,000th time to pick up anything we forgot…rice cakes, gum, whiskey. JK…whiskey is a liquid, so no. We will also likely get lost in a mind tunnel in the cookie aisle and spend 20 minutes staring blankly at Oreos.
Friday, we have posing practice with our coach, and then we sleep as much as possible. This has the dual purpose of giving us a break from feeling miserable and sparing our loved ones from the wretched harpy we will undoubtedly become.
Friday afternoon is GAME ON. Spray tan, athlete check-ins at the venue, and CARBS. Time for glycogen refilling! For me, this means I get to eat 2 dry pancakes. And then more sleep.
Saturday morning, it’ll be a jump down the rabbit hole–completely uncharted territory for me. I’ll be just like Alice but dressed in a bikini and painted brown. Prejudging begins at 10 a.m. Hair, makeup, more tan, and, more importantly, more carbs, will happen before then. Hopefully the carbs (and water) will do their job and fill my muscles out enough to make it look like I actually work out.
So, in the metabolic afterglow of my pancake feast, I’ll chug the last quart of my water and say good night. Diet brain likes an early wake-up call.