This is actually the easy and most predictable part of the process. In weeks prior to the load, we have already determined how long it takes that competitor to drop the water from the load and get back to their sharpest condition. Excess water is dropped in a period of one to four days prior to the show.
Following the load, water intake must be high, as it was throughout the prep. During a load, it is difficult to drink the required amount of water because the volume of food ingested is very large. This usually keeps water intake down during the load from the levels during prep. Immediately after the load is finished, water intake has to return to the high point that it was prior to the load. This is usually in the area of seven to twelve liters a day depending on the competitor.
The diet must return to the pre-carb intake levels, as well. Even if there are carbs in the diet, and there almost certainly will be, the level of carbohydrate intake is so drastically low compared to during the load that it will not get in the way of moving water and drying out the competitor. Most would think that carbs need to be cut to zero or very low but that is not the case.
Sodium must also return to pre-load levels and sodium levels should always be relatively high while prepping. Usually, sodium intake is anywhere from 3-8g per day depending, again, on the competitor. Another misconception is that sodium levels must be low for water to be moved and the competitor to get dry. This poor advice and theory has resulted in many competitors appearing flat and lacking detail on stage. Approaching a show, sodium levels should not be cut provided your water intake is where it should be (very high). I have witnessed many competitors go from looking incredible a week before a show to looking terrible following a cut in sodium.
After a couple days the competitor will see the water shifting away from under the skin and being excreted. However, the fullness in the muscle stays because sodium is high, water intake is high (fully hydrated), and there is no activity other than posing so glycogen isn't being depleted at a dramatic rate. Fullness will remain constant unless the diet from the end of the load to show day is too low in calories and carbs.
With SkipLoading, there should be no loading on Saturday morning. You simply get up in the morning, keep your diet just as you had the previous day and step on stage in incredible condition with a nice balance of fullness vs. dryness.
Q: How do you control "spilling over" during your water manipulation, using the SkipLoading technique?
The body will hold water when there is not enough water being ingested. When water is running through the body on a consistent basis little water is retained if the electrolytes are balanced. If your sodium levels are too high you can still hold water but if the water intake is high, the sodium requirement increases as well.
Also, it is important to note that water is not "shed" or controlled by manipulation of sodium levels with SkipLoading. It is manipulated entirely by loading carbs and adjusting water intake. The fastest way to go flat, and I see it happen all the time, is to drop sodium levels too low trying to "get water off". The amount of water and the timing of its intake are crucial and will vary between clients. It is not uncommon for sodium levels to remain anywhere from 3g to as high as 8 or 9g per day up to the last week before a show. When you understand how sodium relates to other electrolytes and how it relates to manipulating water, you will hit the stage harder, fuller, and drier than ever before.
Q: What is the biggest difference your clients have noted between the SkipLoad and other methods they have used for manipulating water and increasing fullness?
The primary difference is that the balance of fullness vs. dryness is achieved. Every competitor has a balance of dryness vs. fullness that is optimal for THEM. You always have to give up at least some of one to get the other. The trick is to find the balance that has that competitor as dry as he can be and yet as full as he can be. This is exactly what SkipLoading accomplishes.
Most other loading methods are based on the concept that you load up to a day or so before the show and try to control water by cutting it at ridiculous times, cutting sodium a couple or three days out, etc.. When people ask what SkipLoading is, I tell them that if they take what the normal competitor does and simply do everything opposite, that is SkipLoading. Most of the principles of SkipLoading seem to be very backwards from what is known as "fact" when it comes to the last week of prep. My reputation is taking things that are supposed to be known as fact and blowing them out of the water.
Q: Many competitors including pros have found themselves in high risk or even fatal situations due to diuretic use or better yet, misuse. You've experimented and found a way to bring people in bone-dry consistently without using diuretics, thereby making it a safer way to obtain that final stage-worthy dry look that is so sought after. Could you give us an overview on how this came about and how it works?
Diuretics have ruined many competitors’ conditions and it is not needed if you know how to manipulate water. I have always said that people get too caught up in water restriction or elimination when they should be focusing on water MANIPULATION. You don't want to necessarily get rid of water; you want to make sure it is in the right place which is in the muscle. Just like a carb load, diuretics are often misunderstood and misused, and can ruin a competitor’s conditioning.
SkipLoading not only fills you out but manipulates and shifts water into the muscle so using a diuretic becomes unnecessary. It isn't always easy to tell a new client that they will not be using a diuretic because they are so used to using them. I have heard many times "then how in the hell am I going to get dry?” as if there is no other way to get bone dry. My loading protocol has become so popular not only because of the competitor’s ultimate condition, but also because it does not stress the kidneys like the use of diuretics does. My clients do not have to worry about a trip to the emergency room after a show. In my opinion, diuretics have likely contributed to the increase in failing kidneys in bodybuilding over the last ten years. This increase in kidney related issues is alarming.
Q: How do you manage the SkipLoad during the day of the show?
If everything has been done properly and the competitor's condition is 100% in the morning, the day is handled as the previous day less the water intake. Water is routinely cut at bedtime on Friday night for a Saturday show. After the body cycles through such a large amount of water over the course of so many days, it will assume that when the competitor gets up Saturday morning that this will continue. Since the body assumes water intake will be the same, it will continue to excrete water the day of the show. As a result, the competitor continues to dry and harden as the morning progresses.
If the competitor wakes up flat on Saturday morning after SkipLoading, it is due to a lack of carbs. Because water intake has been high, the body is essentially 100% hydrated. Sodium is high and would not be the cause, leaving carbs as the culprit. At this point, carbs need to be ingested but the best way to do this is to take in foods high in three things: sodium, carbs, and fat. The sodium will efficiently pack the carbs away as glycogen, and the fats will control the rate that the carbs hit the bloodstream preventing a shock to the system. These foods are very easy to incorporate because they are things that taste very good like fast food burgers, fries, doughnuts, pizza, cookies, etc. The best foods are those you crave as they contain the sodium, carbs, and fat. You then eat in relation to your condition. If you are filling out, you do not need to eat as much. If you are not filling out, you keep eating. The only thing to watch for the day of the show is abdominal distention. Overeating can cause the stomach to bulge so if you are working on filling out, you will want to eat as much as you can without causing stomach distention. With water intake being cut the night before, there will be no water control issues while eating these foods. When loading in this manner, your condition will not worsen unless you take in too much water.
Q: Are there times you will not use the SkipLoading process on a competitor and will go to a more traditional plan?
No. I may change the timing, the loading day or days, water, sodium, and/or other variables but the principle of SkipLoading remains the same for every single competitor. I had forty-seven clients take the stage in 2007. Each one used SkipLoading tailored to their needs and this put them in their best ever condition.
Q: What are some of the things that can go wrong with SkipLoading if not done right?
A few things can go wrong but you have to really work at making it fail:
1.If a client does not load enough, they will not fill out, which results in a flat look minimizing muscle detail. A full muscle shows much more detail and hardness.
2. Overloading or not cleaning up the water post-load, results in a smooth appearance.
3. Water retention varies greatly between people, and forcing off water with diuretics or drastically cutting sodium often results in a flat appearance on stage.
While only a few things can go wrong, they can be disastrous on your conditioning and ultimately affect your final placement.
Q: Do your clients generally experience a rebound after a SkipLoading week?
Rebounds are not common. The main reason is that the only real change is in the amount of carbs that are eaten. Sodium levels are not dropped, water is not cut early, and diuretics are not used, so there is no real rebound after the show. During a typical load, most competitors’ rebounds are due to the reintroduction of water, sodium and after the use of a diuretic. When sodium is reintroduced combined with increased water intake, a competitor may put on up to twenty or more pounds in the days following a show.
With SkipLoading the rebound is subtle and when the post-show foods are introduced there is little shock to the system and weight does not fluctuate dramatically. The heart and kidneys are typically much safer from the dangers frequently found when other methods are employed.
It should also be noted that with SkipLoading it is very easy to compete in shows that are only one to two weeks apart because of the lack of rebound in bodyweight. After a show, if that competitor is back on his diet Monday his condition will be rock solid by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. The load typically requires modification, and will vary by the individual, but it is relatively easy to pull off and much more predictable than a traditional approach.
Q: Can you or would you SkipLoad a fitness or figure competitor?
I do, yes. The process for fitness, figure, or female bodybuilding does not differ from that of a male bodybuilder. All require a balance of fullness and dryness and SkipLoading can be used for any of them.
Q: When dieting down competitors is there a specific number of weeks out from their show you like to start the dieting process or do you do this on a case by case basis?
I am recognized for my work in the weeks immediately preceding a show. I do, however, prefer to work with a client through the entire prep. Sixteen weeks is typically an adequate time frame to evaluate a client’s reaction to various situations and scenarios prior to the critical pre-show focus. I may require more or allow less time, but sixteen weeks is best practice.
I also insist that guys do not come to me out of shape. There are those who believe they are "off season" when they are truly just too fat. I am very good at what I do and I have saved many a train wreck but that is not my business. I am in the business of putting people on stage looking like they have no skin. To do that, I cannot have clients that are too heavy and carrying far too much body fat. It makes the process of dieting torturous on the client, it usually eats at least some hard-earned muscle, and you will almost always get on stage tighter, harder and carrying more of your muscle when you come into the start of a prep leaner than fatter.
Q: What is the #1 mistake you see or hear about competitors doing during the last week of prep before a bodybuilding show?
Gee, only one?
The problem I hear most often is "I didn't carb up enough" or "I had too many carbs". If someone is flat, they naturally assume that it was a lack of carbs, when most of the time it probably was not the case. The problem was likely dropping water early, not taking in enough water, sodium too low, etc. If the competitor is soft and holding water, carbs are often blamed again when it is likely that they did not properly control water intake following a load. Even those not lean enough blame the carbs. Carbs are the usual scapegoat for almost all condition-related issues.
Q: How is cardio utilized during this whole dieting process? The last week?
I am much bigger on cardio than I used to be, during the course of contest prep. However, I still don't go crazy with it and I tend to use it more as a tool than something to rely on to get lean. As an example, most will make their caloric intake fluctuate to keep their metabolism off balance and that is a good idea. However, a comparable idea is to vary cardio levels and do so even before changing caloric intake. Anytime you reduce cardio, you rest your body which makes you less likely to over train. You want to do as little work as possible when in dieting mode whether that is training or cardio. Do what is necessary and that is it.
During the last week before a show cardio is not used. It is cut at least one week before the show as the metabolism is on fire at that point and usually can "coast" through the last couple weeks. This gives the lower body a nice opportunity to rest and recover before the show and it also makes it easier to load if your metabolism is not red hot.
Q: It is known thru the bodybuilding grapevine (underground) that you have worked with and helped some very well known NAME bodybuilders in the sport (pro's and top amateurs) yet it has been kept under wraps and not said publically, why is that? Due to the entities that sponsor that bodybuilder or the contracts they have?
Sponsorship and contracts are factors, but there are a myriad of other reasons names are not publicized, starting with professional courtesy. Often the bodybuilder has a long and established relationship with another top nutritionist and they come to me for the last couple weeks for fine tuning. Leanness can be accomplished with the help of most nutritionists in the industry. What separates me from others is the consistent, replicable achievement of hardness, fullness, and dryness when my clients hit the stage. As a result, many employ their nutritionist to become lean but come to me for the last, critical weeks leading up to the show.
Some request confidentiality because they do contest prep as well. While people of any profession benefit from the expertise of others in their field, many do not want their own customers to know they have someone else helping with their prep work. Such advertising might be great for my business but not necessarily theirs.
Until recently I have not publicly discussed the clients I work with. However, in working with more high-profile athletes and bodybuilders I am learning that the exposure for some clients may be critical in landing them endorsements or obtaining sponsorships. IntenseMuscle.com is well known and read by a lot of prominent figures in the industry. I was surprised to learn of the increasing attention the website and my clients are receiving. It only seems fair that they get the attention that they have earned.
Q: One last question Skip, you are known for your vast knowledge of diet, nutrition, and contest prep, however, do you develop training programs for clients as well?
95% of my clients are looking for assistance with their conditioning whether it be getting them peeled for a show, getting them leaner without giving up hard earned muscle, or maintaining their leanness during the offseason while they still grow and gain muscle tissue. I have trained for 24 years and will provide training guidance, if requested, but this is not usually what people are looking for when they approach me.