Tom Venuto's BodybuildingSecrets.com

3 Days Out, First Day Of Carbing Up, Final Week

Tom Venuto

Wednesday, October 13th, 2005. Today the carb up phase begins! I’ll continue carbing up Thursday and Friday, as well as Saturday morning before the prejudging. Today will also be my last weight training workout. More importantly to moi, yesterday was my last cardio workout, which means this will be the first day I have not done cardio in over 15 weeks – that’s more than 100 days in a row of cardio without a miss. Yes, I’m very happy about having no cardio today… thanks for asking (contrary to some people spreading vicious rumors to the contrary, LOL, I am NO “cardio bunny”… there are lots of other things I’d rather be doing… I simply do whatever I have to do to reach my goals… cardio, eat protein + “rabbit food” all day long, whatever, I do it, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it!)

I trained chest and arms today and it was my very last weight training workout until after the show (no weight training on Thursday or Friday before a Saturday show). Most bodybuilders don’t train for two (and sometimes even three) days before the show (and we laugh at the bodybuilders who do, and hope that they will be competing against us LOL!). Actually, I do know bodybuilders who train right up to the day before the show, but the majority do not and here’s why: The whole purpose of the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday carb up phase is to allow your muscles to fill back up with glycogen. Training would only deplete the muscle glycogen rather than allow the muscles to fill out. Plus, you don’t want to be sore or have any muscle fatigue whatsoever when you’re posing. You want to feel fresh, strong and energetic when you’re up there onstage.

I usually train chest with only biceps, but today I did biceps and triceps for one final complete arm pump. It took less than an hour, then I rushed home and slammed down almost 100 grams of carbs in the form of white potatoes (that’s two giant baking potatoes), along with a 6oz chicken breast. That was the start of the carb up phase.

White potatoes are one of the best carb up foods. I also use yams, sweet potatoes, brown rice, cream of rice hot cereal and oatmeal. Basically, natural (not man made) starches are ideal, although it’s common for many bodybuilders to introduce some simple carbs before going onstage Saturday morning. Some people use commercial carbohydrate drinks for the initial day of carb up, but I prefer real food. I drop my vegetables during the carb up phase because it allows me to remove some of the sodium from the diet and also because veggies are “diet/fat loss” foods and essentially, the diet phase is over at this point. If you’re still fat on Wednesday before a show, sorry Charlie, you missed the boat (so the veggies serve no purpose at this point).

That reminds me, I also dropped out my egg whites for the duration of the carb up phase and eat nothing but meat - turkey breast, chicken breast and a little bit of red meat like top round steak, etc. Dropping the egg whites reduces helps reduce the sodium a bit. Each egg has about 60 grams of sodium (more for extra large and jumbo eggs). I usually eat 8-12 at a time. Compare that to a chicken breast with about 100 mgs and you can see the “sodium savings.”

The carb target for this first day of carb loading is 350 grams and I plan to adjust (probably increase) Thursday and Friday based on how I look. The carb intake gets adjusted according to how full I look. If I look flat, I eat more carbs, If I’m totally full, I pull back just slightly or hold steady. The tentative plan is 350 grams today, 400 grams tomorrow and up to 500 grams Friday.

This will be an “experiment” as I have never taken in this many carbs before, usually staying at 400 on Friday, or even pulling back to 300-350 on Friday to play it safe and be conservative. Although it would be almost impossible to lay down body fat at this point from eating any reasonable quantity of clean food, if you take in too many carbs, you can get a “spillover effect” and can retain water under your skin and smooth out. However, I predict that my body will “soak up” every bit of them, especially because I have been training so intensely and for so long.

When you’re successfully carbed up, your muscles literally inflate and look bigger, while also looking harder and leaner at the same time. Another sign of a successful carb up is a high amount of vascularity. As your muscles fill with glycogen, your veins become more prominent and even “pop out,” especially when you pose. (hold your breath temporarily and hit a pose and the veins can look downright SCARY in a ripped and fully carbed up body - but don’t try that at home – I was just making a point!)

The other part of this carb up phase is water management. I am not “dehydrating” today, per se, only creating a differential between yesterday (three gallons) and today (which will be one and a quarter to one and a half gallons). On Thursday I decrease water just slightly (about a gallon) and then Friday I decrease the water sharply. This water intake protocol combined with the carb up and reduced sodium / increased potassium will push water from the extracellular space beneath the skin into the muscle cell, which, along with all the carbs, will add to the fullness and hardness of the muscle.

Although almost all bodybuilders do cut water back dramatically for at least 18-24 hours before the contest, dehydrating yourself is not really the goal. Severe dehydration is not only unhealthy, but will also make you look flatter (your body is 70% water, your muscle is mostly water, and glycogen cannot be stored without enough water). The goal is to get the water out from under your skin and inside the muscle cell. Water inside the muscle cell is good. Water under your skin, blurring your definition is not good.

After three days of “water loading”, today I cut back to normal water intake. My normal water intake while dieting, and also off season when training for mass, is 1.0 – 1.5 gallons per day. Taking in the “normal” amount today will Not send my body a “you are dehydrated, so retain water” signal. Instead it will keep flushing water out rapidly and by tomorrow morning when I wake up, if all goes according to plan, I will surely look sharper with more muscle definition. I will reduce slightly on Thursday, then on Friday, that is the day when I cut back my water and literally stop drinking by late in the afternoon or early evening (only sips until prejudging Saturday).

The final piece of the water puzzle is to add potassium supplements during the entire carb up phase, while keeping sodium as low as possible. I put absolutely NOTHING on my food that contains any sodium from now through contest day.

I weighed 175.5 lbs today - the first day I’m under my weight clas limit. As of today (Wednesday) at 9pm, I could already see myself getting a little fuller, but was definitely still flat. One day of high carbs isn’t nearly enough to do much. It’s gonna take every bit of that 1250 grams of carbs over the next three days to do the trick, I think… plus a little more Saturday morning!

Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how the carb up is coming along and also I’ll tell you about the natural herbal diuretics I add into the carb up phase to help get rid of even more of the water below the skin that can blur muscle definition…. These are herbal and all natural diuretics I’m talking about, which you can get at any health food store… (no drugs!)

Published on 13 October, 2005

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