TOPIC: How Can You Cut Water Weight The Last Week Before A Contest?

The Question:

When you step on stage you want to make sure that you have every advantage possible. That includes losing as much water weight as possible.

How can you cut water weight the last week before a contest?

What kind of supplements can help?

How long before a contest should one begin to cut water weight?

How important is it to cut water weight before a competition?

Bonus Question: What are the dangers of this method if done improperly and what steps can you take to make sure the cutting goes as planned?

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Bodybuilders work extremely hard to eliminate body fat and develop size and symmetry in the muscles when preparing for a competition. With all this hard work, it is important that all the definition and striations in the muscles are visible through the skin, with no water in the way. Cutting excess water is one more obstacle that each bodybuilder must face before stepping onto the podium.

Cutting Water Weight: How Can You Cut Water Weight The Last Week Before A Contest?

Sodium Load/Depletion:

One widely-used approach to cut water weight is sodium loading, and then depletion. With increased sodium intake, the body will begin pumping more of it out of the body. When the depletion occurs, the body will still be tricked into pumping out more than normal, and taking excess water with it.

One approach is to use salt during all meals to equal about 5,000 mg of sodium daily starting about a week out from the competition, and then completely eliminate salt from the diet about 3 days out. With another strategy, sodium load begins at 2 weeks out, with several timed decreases in total sodium intake until the day of competition.

Limit Water Intake Leading Up To Show:

Obviously, depleting water intake will help to get excess water out of the body. There is a little strategy to this as opposed to just stopping drinking water.

Anti-diuretic hormones can cause the body to retain water. They are released when water consumption is limited, so it is important to consume a large amount of water before a gradual decrease in water intake about 3 days out. By drinking over 2 gallons of water a day, there will be a decrease in anti-diuretic hormones, and they should stay low through the water depletion that follows.

Carbohydrate/Glycogen Loading:

Although more to supersaturate muscles with glycogen to make them appear hard and full, all the glycogen in the muscles should pull much of the remaining subcutaneous water into the muscle cells. There are different strategies for carbohydrate depletion and loading.

With one strategy, carbohydrate depletion will begin about a week before the contest, and then the loading phase will begin the Wednesday before, or 3 days out. Carbohydrates should be lowered to about .5 grams per pound of bodyweight for the depletion phase. Carbohydrate intake should be increased to up to 3 grams per pound of body weight spread out throughout the 6 meals when the loading phase begins.

Red Wine/Diuretics:

Another strategy is to use natural or supplemental diuretics to flush water out of the body. One popular pre-contest diuretic is actually red wine.

Supplements: What Kind Of Supplements Can Help?

There are many cutting/diuretic cocktails that include some of the following diuretic ingredients:

  • Vitamin B6: a natural diuretic

  • Uva Ursi: used to tread urinary infections and promote urine flow

  • Dandelion: natural diuretic properties

  • Green tea/caffeine:¬†stimulates the central nervous system, has a diuretic effect, and increases urine and sodium losses through the kidneys

  • Juniper Berry: also used for urinary tract infections, naturally stimulates the kidneys to move fluids faster

When To Start: How Long Before A Contest Should One Begin To Cut Water Weight?

How much time is needed to cut water weight really depends on which strategies the competitor decides to implement. Different strategies can begin as far as 2 weeks out, but at least one week before competition is where most people will begin protocol to shed excess water.

At one week out, carbohydrate depletion, sodium loading, and increasing water intake can all begin.

Importance: How Important Is It To Cut Water Weight Before A Competition?

It is very important for competitors to eliminate excess water from underneath the skin. After all the hard training to develop musculature, excess water can hide the definition of the muscles and make the competitor appear "smooth." The competitor with the best overall contest preparation will be sure to have the advantage.

However, it does not have to be an extremely complex process for natural bodybuilders if proper contest preparation has been followed, and conditioning is already peaked.

Bonus Question: What Are The Dangers Of This Method If Done Improperly And What Steps Can You Take To Make Sure The Cutting Goes As Planned?


The symptoms of dehydration can be mild to severe. With severe dehydration the organs can begin to shut down and bodily functions can be effected.

Muscle Cramping:

Muscle cramping can be painful, and can really screw up a posing routine if it occurs on stage.

It is important to monitor your level of hydration, and never let it become dangerously low.

Make sure to map out your strategy well ahead of time, so that it is a countdown until contest day. Mark your calendar so you know exactly which days you will be starting different protocols to cut water weight. Nothing too extreme should be used to cut water weight, as this will only increase the danger.

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