By Chris Aceto Flex
Add the appearance of 15 lbs of muscle in one week
Flex Wheeler was known for achieving drastic changes in his physique in less then 10 days. One reason for this was the implementation of successful carbohydrate depleting and loading. The system, which requires large but temporary changes in carbohydrate, sodium and water consumption, can lead to near-miracle changes in the appearance of muscle conditioning.
The process creates a temporary illusion. It’s a “quick fix” that allows a bodybuilder to appear a lot harder by virtue of fuller-looking muscles combined with less water retention.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder who wants a quick fix to sharpen your physique for a contest or just for a trip to the beach, these are the steps to deplete and then supercharge your body with carb loading. You may be shocked by how much better — and bigger — you’ll look in just one week.
Step No. 1
Preprogram: increase sodium intake
In the week prior to starting your carb-cutting program, boost your intake of sodium — plain table salt. The simplest way to do this is to sprinkle salt on all of your meals. Elevating sodium increases water retention in the body and decreases the water retention hormone aldosterone.
Remain with a higher-than-usual sodium intake until one day before carbing up during the program (in step 7). When you suddenly reduce your sodium intake at that time, and while aldosterone levels readjust, your body will excrete even more water — most of it coming directly from beneath the skin. This will lead to greater definition.
Step No. 2
Preprogram: increase water intake
When you increase sodium, it’s important to take in roughly 50% more water than usual. That is, every time you would normally have a cup of water, make it a cup and a half, so that by the end of the day, you’ve boosted your fluid intake by 50%. Greater water intake sets up the body for greater definition at the end of the process.
Maintain this intake until you reach step 10.
Step No. 3
Days 1-2: drop carbs 50%
Here’s when the carb-cutting program really begins. Drop your carb consumption by 50%. This first drop will help prevent the shock of taking your carb count too low too quickly. If you were previously eating approximately 1,500 calories from carbs per day (about normal for a 200-pound bodybuilder who consumes 3,000 calories a day for bodyweight maintenance), then cut your total carb intake to 200 grams (g) per day, focusing mostly on complex carbs, early in the day. Still, for these two days, maintain your pre- and postworkout nutrition simple carbs at approximately 50 g, divided between those two meals.
Step No. 4
Days 1-5: mildly increase protein
Some people go wrong at this step. When carbs drop, you must increase protein consumption to prevent muscle breakdown. However, if you increase your protein intake too much, a lot of that extra protein is burned as fuel, sparing the body from emptying its glycogen stores. Therefore, to experience the muscle-saving effect of extra protein without inhibiting the depletion of glycogen stores, elevate your protein intake only by about 50 g daily on each lower-carb day. A 200-pound bodybuilder who normally eats a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day should consume about 250 g of protein during this phase.
Step No. 5
Days 1-5: train with high reps
When depleting carbs for five days, you should train with higher reps — 12-18 per set — and perform 50% more sets than normal. For example, if you normally perform 10 sets for biceps, go to 15 total sets (50% more volume work) and aim for 12-18 reps per set. Of course, you’ll have to decrease the weight in order to hit that volume. However, the goal here is to lower carb reserves, and volume work is tremendously effective in doing so. It all goes back to supercompensation. The more carbs you can deplete, the greater amount you can store during the carb-up process, leading to biggerand tighter-looking muscles.
Step No. 6
Days 3-5: further deplete carbs
On these days, drop your carbohydrate intake to 100-150 g per day, emphasizing complexcarbohydrate sources, such as yams, oatmeal and brown rice. Take these in early in the day and target about .7 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight (a 200-pound bodybuilder should take in about 140 g of carbs daily).
When carbohydrates drop, reserves of glycogen stored in muscles begin to decline. As glycogen levels decrease, the body begins to pump up its production of glycogen-storing enzymes. When you later pack in greater quantities of carbs, those carbstoring enzymes will help pack away these additional carbs as newglycogen, yielding fullerlooking muscles.
Step No. 7
Days 5-7: reduce sodium
The day before adding carbs back, drop the additional salt you’ve been putting on your food. When sodium levels decline, you’ll experience changes in aldosterone that favor water excretion and a tighter look. You needn’t zero out your sodium intake. Cutting all the extra sodium should be enough of a drop.
Step No. 8
Days 6-7: carb up
Now the fun begins. After five days of depleting carbs, along with performing volume work, your muscles will be tremendously lowin fuel, screaming to be replenished. When you switch to a high-carb intake, much of what you consume will be directly stored in your muscles. I suggest eating 3 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight daily, minimum, and up to 5 g per pound for those with a faster metabolism or those who weigh more than 220 pounds. Avoid using fruit and sucrose (table sugar) or high-fructose corn syrup. Starchy complex-carb sources are ideal, and good choices include potatoes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pasta, white rice and brown rice.
Step No. 9
Days 6-7: reduce protein consumption
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When you’re carbing up, you can drop the added protein of step 4. This follows the simple edict that carbs and protein work like a seesaw. When carbs drop, you have to eat more protein; when carbs dramatically increase, you don’t need the added protein. Take in just a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight on each of these days.
Step No. 10
Days 6-7: reduce water intake
In step 2, you increased water intake. Now, reduce it to 50% what you would normally have on any given day prior to step 2. If, for example, you would usually drink a gallon of water, reduce that to half a gallon. Since carbohydrates require water to make new muscle glycogen, many people assume that they have to drink like a thirsty camel to make glycogen. Not so, because in the face of restricted water and increased carbs, muscles make up for the water shortfall by dragging some from under the skin into the muscles. The result is less subcutaneous water retention and a harder-looking physique.
Step No. 11
Days 6-7: take it easy and don’t train
As a rule of thumb, when carbing up, it’s best not to train, as that siphons off some of the incoming carbohydrates, preventing an optimal carb-up and fuller muscles. This might be why many bodybuilders appear fuller a few days after a competition. The days off allow for optimal compensation of carbohydrates. In fact, avoid energy expenditure as much as possible to allow your muscles to fill up.
Step No. 12
Day 7: pump up and take pictures
Pump up your muscles a bit right before you step onstage, do a photo shoot or strip off your shirt to impress people. Use light weights (or isometric movements) and go through a full range of motion, feeling the stretch, contraction and pump. Keep reps low — you don’t want to burn up carbs.
On this day, you may be in the best condition of your life. Have someone take pictures of you to capture the moment and to use as a record of comparison for the next time you carb deplete and carb load. Photographically documenting your condition and muscle mass is a great way to determine that you are continuing to progress as a bodybuilder. – FLEX