Peaking for a Show: Plan Ahead or Prepare to Fail

Relentless Pursuit

By IFBB Pro Josh Wade

Sponsored by ALLMAX

People think peak week is when they should be suffering and getting that final bit of fat off and that’s where so many mistakes are made.

Q: You were always onstage in great condition, which not everyone can do and even in doing multiple shows in the same year you never seemed to miss your peak. How do you maintain that level of condition through so many shows?

A: That’s a great question and one I get asked quite frequently, which boils down to consistency. First thing is, I do have a fast metabolism but that doesn’t mean I haven’t trained it to be that way. I believe frequency of feedings is the best way to keep metabolism elevated and also help keep you satiated so you don’t get so hungry you self-sabotage and binge eat. I’m very meticulous on my portions and meal timing which is the best way to keep metabolism elevated, but also helps you track how well things are working. If you’re not doing the same things day in and day out, how are you really going to know what is working and when you need to make a change? I’m very blessed that my wife prepares all my meals down to the gram to make sure I know exactly what I’m taking in, therefore I know when things need to be adjusted to make sure my body keeps changing.

A huge component to how you start a prep is to make sure you stay in good shape during the off-season as you slowly but constantly try to increase calories to keep metabolism elevated and get calories high enough that you have plenty of wiggle room when bringing calories back down. If you don’t start a prep with calories high enough, you won’t have enough to pull down without your metabolism adapting and hindering fat loss. Through a meticulous off-season I’m able to reduce calories slowly during prep and never have to crash diet, so I’m able to preserve any new muscle tissue that I accumulated during the “off season” or building season. Until newly acquired muscle tissue matures, it will be the first to go if calories get too low and your body wants to catabolize muscle tissue to preserve life. Your body will try to burn muscle instead of fat if protein and calories aren’t high enough – that’s why a lot of times you’ll need a high-carb or high-calorie day to give the body a break if metabolism slows down, and why a good coach is useful to notice those signs because it’s not just constantly lowering calories that will get you to that final shredded look – there has to be balance and partially tricking the body to respond the way you want it to, especially if people don’t have a good off-season and come into prep with calories too low.

As anyone that has ever prepped for a show or tried to get in the best shape of their life knows, you must plan ahead. You must have meals prepared in advance to pull them out when it’s time to eat or you’ll get too busy and start missing meals or eating what you want instead of what you need to. So, plan ahead or prepare to fail!

I think the term “peak week” is overrated and misunderstood. People think peak week is when they should be suffering and getting that final bit of fat off and that’s where so many mistakes are made. I’m a big believer in being ready for a show early and then using the final week leading up to a show “peak week” to find your best look of fullness and shape while letting the body rest from heavy weight training and cardio to not cause any unnecessary stress or water retention so it has a fresh look and not run down. The final week is not trying to pull rabbits out of a hat and making magic happen when you aren’t truly lean enough.

Cardio to Preserve Muscle

Q: When do you do cardio and how much do you get up to before a show?

A: I follow the same approach as most people out there and do my cardio in a fasted state when blood sugar levels are at the lowest point in the day. I normally don’t do cardio in the off-season because I’m ingesting a lot of calories to grow and I don’t want to burn those calories off doing cardio when I need to use them to recover from my weight training, which is intense. With that said, I do advise a lot of clients to continue with fasted cardio a few days a week to keep their metabolism elevated if they have a hard time eating the necessary calories to build – and also it really helps keep your hematocrit levels lower so blood doesn’t get too thick by keeping blood circulating. That’s why a lot of runners have lower hematocrit.

So, when I start a prep usually around 14 weeks out, I add in cardio gradually starting around 30-35 minutes three to four days a week upon rising in a fasted state and almost always just doing medium-intensity steady state, which for me is 3.5-3.7 MPH at an incline of 3-5 percent on the treadmill. The most I’ve gotten up to is 50 minutes, six days a week. Some people need higher intensity to shed fat off like intervals or stair climber, but I don’t usually advise that and when I have done intervals in the past, I’ve sacrificed size for condition and now I’ve found what’s right for me.

Everyone is different but again, you shouldn’t have to bust your ass on cardio and whittle down your legs from extensive cardio sessions if you stayed in better off-season shape and gave yourself adequate time when prepping for a show. It boils down to planning to succeed in anything in life!

Josh’s current pre-, intra- and post-workout stack:

• Pre-workout: ½ scoop Carbion+, 1 scoop Impact Igniter Xtreme

• Intra-workout: 1 scoop Carbion+, 1 scoop Aminocore, 5g Creatine, 10g Glutamine

• Post-workout: 2 scoops Isoflex (Chocolate Peanut Butter), 10g Glutamine

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