Renowned bodybuilding coach Austin Stout shares some of his favourite peak week secrets with our loyal reader, drawing on massive experience in prepping athletes for the sport he loves.
1) Best advice for peak week?
DON’T STRESS! At this point, the amount of fat you are going to lose before show time is minimal. De-stressing and clearing inflammation should be a top priority. Aside from filling out a flat physique, clearing inflammation is a huge factor in enhancing your look.
You should know how your body responds to carbohydrate and/or fats by now, so a loading strategy should be nailed down. If not, then always play it safe. You are better off being conservative and coming in 80-90% peaked rather than trying to pull some voodoo magic and butchering your physique.
Also, if you don’t understand how to manipulate macros, electrolytes and fluids, hire someone! There are so many misconceptions and common mistakes that I see constantly when it comes to manipulating variables. Anything from dropping water days out, dropping sodium, dangerous diuretic practices, its all a recipe for disaster. Its not worth ruining your prep efforts over a couple days of mistakes before the show.
2) What stage out should you start your prep?
It seems like there are these time frames within the industry that most people think are standard. You know, 12 weeks, 16 weeks etc. The truth is it really depends. For many competitors, I don’t like to set a time frame in prep. Start leaning out and when we are within striking distance, choose a show. For those doing national level or pro level shows, that may not be an option of course since there are only so many shows.
Even if someone is losing 1+ lbs. per week, its hard to predict the weeks because that never accounts for any obstacles. If I am going to set a number of weeks, I like to look at the approximate amount of fat that needs lost, set the pace at 1-1.5lbs per week then tack on a couple extra weeks to the total just to be safe. Its REALLY hard to be ready too early for 99% of people. Id rather have someone ready early and have to hold it for a week or two than be rushing to finish the job close to stage time.
3) What key strategies do you use to give your clients an edge on the competition?
Going back to question 1, don’t stress! You must be confident in your plan and know even through those times that are mentally challenging that the plan is working in the background. Afterall, that is part of the reason people hire a coach in the first place.
I also like to explain what’s happening with a person’s body when needed to reassure them everything is going well. For example, maybe their weight spiked up out of nowhere or they feel off one day. Its important to have good feedback from client to coach but then also in return from coach to client. That way I can tell the person WHY something is happening, and they know its normal or at least fixable.
I also like to have the right attitude toward the show. We always want to be our best but at the end of the day, this is a competition. Let’s not do it just to do it. Let’s do it to win or at least strive to.
Lastly, I of course want to give the clients the best chance of success. This includes a proper starting point for prep in terms of their metabolic/hormonal health, mindset, finances etc. I want to make sure they have enough time in the prep and have the best guidance possible in terms of nutrition, supplementation, training and mindset. I think some folks fall to encompass the whole scope of what goes into making someone their best.
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