As I sit in the airport on my way back from the INBF/WNBF World Championships, I can't help thinking about the much-anticipated battles within the contest.
Would Jon Harris repeat his World title, would Rodney Helaire stop Ben Tennessen's quest for four consecutive heavyweight titles, would anyone be able to stop Jim Cordova, would a dominant competitor arise from the increasingly tough woman's divisions, would Angela Mraz make it three figure World Championships in a row?
Long into the night the adrenaline was still fresh on the voices of those around me Monday-morning quarterbacking, relishing their wins, or struggling with defeat.
My thoughts localized on my show within the show; my 15 or so pro clients and handful of amateurs who laid it all on the line for their crack at a top placing. I count eight top-five placings, four World titles, and several being pushed out of the top five by a field growing deeper in talent by the season.
Inside The Life Of A Natural Pro: Episode #11: Dr. Joe Klemczewski!
Watch The Video - 11:18
I count just as many different body types requiring many different ways of peaking. As the corner is turned from pre-contest dieting to what I call peak week, a competitor may be still actively losing body fat, evening out their nutrition to coast into the show, or they're actually increasing food to keep from losing size.
Combine that variable with a person's unique metabolic genetics and I could easily end up with 20 different peaking formats for 20 different clients. Let me show you how I sort it out and where you might fall into play.
I start with the same principles outlined in "The Peaking Axis" and "The Peaking Axis II." My initial plan will be to use the beginning of the week to fill the muscle tissue with glycogen by using fairly normal workouts and moderate to maximum levels of carbohydrate intake.
If a client has a pretty slow met rate and is carb-sensitive we may only go up to the highest level they have been on in the last couple of weeks. For those I fear could end up thinning out too much toward the end of the week I'll go much higher.
Some male clients were as high as 300 to 600 grams this week and some females up to 300. Even those that may not be as lean as they can be, it's a choice between striving for one more pound of fat loss with the trade off of potentially being flat.
It's often the better decision to peak as well as they can with the body fat level they enter peak weak at. The appearance of a fuller, more deeply separated muscle will make them look leaner and better.
As the week progresses and the newly-worked muscle is taking in the abundant glycogen, I will likely taper carbs back slightly to make sure we're not going to run into the possibility of spill over that we don't have time to recover from. By Wednesday or Thursday hardness should be regained at a high level and any increase in weight/spill over will be gone.
At this point I'll plan the right time and day to bring carbs up very gradually to give the body just what it needs to get fuller without the slightest chance of being "too much." For some clients we have to once again make sure they're not going to be too flat on Saturday.
If they wait until Friday to increase carbs all at once, the chance of not getting them all assimilated runs high. There has to be a fine balance between the amount on Thursday and Friday creating the fullness they'll need without spilling over.
This is where my stress level goes up several notches as timing is everything. Clients that need a more conservative approach don't roll the dice on having too much but may end up not having quite enough and we may have to carefully increase a bit more than planned on Friday. The end of the week is where day-to-day decisions have to be made.
Of course, as explained in "Peaking Axis II", water is kept high and sodium very stable - probably even slightly higher than normal as the cycle created by my peaking process starts eliminating excess water in the body and minerals can be lost as they are excreted with the water. Too low on sodium at the end of the week and a competitor will go flat, unable to retain hydration in the muscle cell.
The Goal Was The Same
My team of clients experienced these fluctuations to one degree or another through their peaking process. Some had incredibly high amounts of carbs in the beginning of the week and others just moderate bumps. Some needed to continue to actually increase carbs as we went since we started out conservatively and their body responded predictably well.
By the time we reached contest day the final task of scheduling out water, protein, carbs, sodium, potassium, and even activity was more easily experienced since we controlled the variables all week. The goal to be in the exact position we wanted to be at on game day is realized.
All of these variables were once again unique to the competitor - some were adding sodium at certain meals, some ate more carbs than others, meal spacing was longer or tighter depending on body type.
But the goal was the same for each: to walk on stage at prejudging fully hydrated, the water being in the muscle and not spilling over outside of it, as full of glycogen as their muscle could be, and yet as crisp and tight as possible. Once that has been achieved, the task turns to making sure it is repeatable for an overall judging that evening.
While some clients truly have the genetics to dominate their class or division, I painfully understand that if their peak isn't on the money at a show of this caliber they could sink several placings. I saw many of my client's competitors, most of them title holders, come into the prejudging flatter or smoother than I have seen them in the past and I saw many of them return at night in far better form and a couple worse. That is where shows are won or lost.
By contrast, I saw one of my eventual World champions walk onstage at prejudging as full and deeply striated as possible and then return at night in the same condition. Game over. There were several instances in this show that I know a client won a class or beat several people based on this consistency.
Not everyone has the genetic structure to win a World title, but everyone has the opportunity to bring their best to the stage or to squander a chance.