bikini girl mens physqiue

Posted 2 years ago

Peak Week

In the lead up to a show/shoot, you may have heard people talk a lot or hype up their “peak week”, which is simply the week before the main event. This is often seen as the place where the magic happens, as the final tweaks are made to present the physique at its best.

However, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to peaking. In fact, it can be and should be very different from athlete to athlete. There might be fair bit that’ll change for some people, whereas for others there might be very few changes at all. The best example would be the difference between peaking a male bodybuilder in relation to a female bikini girl, which I’ll discuss in detail in this article. As such, the purpose of this article is to explain the processes behind peak week, but also to give detail as to why sometimes, not much will change at all.

The non-negotiables

Ultimately, the goal of this week will be to arrive on the big day and be able to present the physique at its absolute best. To do so, one must massively reduce stress and inflammation on the body. Why? Simply because a body that is in a state of stress will hold a little water and not look at its best. For the most part, this will involve stripping back training intensity as well as cardio and steps.

Training sessions 5-7 days away from the shoot/show may revolve more around “pump” based sessions, where the sole intent is to go a little bit lighter and take nothing to failure. These sessions simply shunt blood around the body and deliver oxygen/nutrients to working muscles without creating too much damage. The one area that is commonly trained 7+ days out and not again will be the legs. By not training legs too close to show/shoot day, we’re giving the body enough time to reduce inflammation / water retention, as this will help the lean physique show off its detail and its conditioning and peak for the big day.

If you have been smashing cardio on the Stairmaster by the time peak week rolls around, it would be a wise idea to back off completely or reduce it to some low intensity steady state cardio such as an incline walk on the treadmill. Think back to the last paragraph to understand why we might do this. You’ve probably been doing hours of cardio across the week, thousands of steps and training your legs hard, so to help them recover, switching things up or dropping cardio completely would be wise. On top of this, step count may be reduced also to combat fatigue and water retention.

Variable manipulation: males vs females

There are some variables that can be manipulated going into peak week to help present a sharper, more detailed look on stage. These variables include food, water, salt intake, and diuretics. However, you do not need to manipulate or play with all of these variables – that is, variable manipulations are athlete dependent, and as such, are selected based on the physique that person needs to present on stage.

Male athletes

Men’s bodybuilding classes have a very specific criteria that is quite different to females. This criterion usually asks for great conditioning (low levels of body fat), full (not flat) muscle bellies, and a “dry look”. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

When we talk about full muscle bellies, before you get confused, remember that muscles can hold glycogen and triglycerides. Through the dieting process, we do end up depleting a lot of these stores, yet when their glycogen stores are full, the muscles look bigger, rounder, and have a pop to them. It’s also a lot easier to get a pump when your muscles are full. Looking flat would be the opposite of this: no pop to the muscles, no fullness, and an inability to get a pump.

With full muscle bellies being a requirement yet depletion being necessary to get conditioned, the way in which we can increase intramuscular glycogen and triglycerides pre-show/shoot is simple: more food. This process is more commonly known as “loading”, because it involves dramatically increasing a male athletes’ food in the 2-3 days prior to a show. The goal is to obviously maintain the level of leanness that athlete has achieved, whilst filling up the muscle bellies to look full. It can be quite a tricky process, and I usually trial it out with clients a few weeks prior to their peak week, so we know exactly what we need to do during their peak week. Only once you’ve practised will you be able to know what works and what doesn’t for that person.

The next criteria they are looking for in the male division will be a dry look. By this we are referring to the physique looking like it isn’t holding much water and is nice and crisp. For that, we can simply manipulate water/salt intake in those final few days alongside the use of some natural diuretics. I would never recommend using under the counter diuretics as it can really mess up the final look. From experience, these simple manipulations have been all that is required to bring that dry look to stage.

However, there are other methods that some athletes and coaches employ to achieve a dry look too. For example, it’s quite common to see athletes water-load, and then cut their water intake in half the day before the show/shoot. In practice, this would look like taking in 6-7L during the show/shoot week. Your body then becomes accustomed to getting rid of “X” litres per day that you’ll pass out in your urine. If you suddenly then cut your intake to 2.5/3L, and also take a natural diuretic which stimulates fluid leaving your body, you can logically see how you’d wake up the next day dehydrated and “dry”.

Bikini girls

Although some of the processes I described above could be relevant to peaking the more muscular female classes (such as women’s figure, physique and bodybuilding), for the purposes of this article, we are solely going to look at peaking athletes for the bikini class. So, what are they looking for in this category?

The judges want a small waist with a good level of condition but not as lean as the guys. They want to see lean glutes/hamstrings from the rear and an overall feminine look. The one area of the upper body the judges will look at in particular is the lateral delt (middle part of shoulder). As long as there is enough food in the system for this to look capped and somewhat full, this will be all that’s required. At no point does it ask for girls to be hard, dry, full or shredded. You can imagine then that the processes for how we prepare for stage are therefore quite different when compared to their male counterparts. So, if we aren’t carb loading in peak week, what are we doing?

My strategy with bikini girls is to begin reversing them out of the deficit a couple weeks out from their show. By this, I’m referring to increasing their food slowly, reducing cardio and their step count. As I explained earlier, this can help reduce stress and inflammation, which will have a positive effect on the physique. What tends to happen as you do this is that females tend to get a little bit leaner: their waist gets tighter, and glutes and hammies come in more. Given that you no longer want to reduce body fat levels at this stage (hence the higher food), yet the physique looks better and better, you end up in a win-win scenario.

This is usually all that’s needed in the final 2-3 weeks of a female athletes’ prep. As such, when it comes to peak week, food rarely changes, and calories are not usually increased in the days prior. As you can see, this is a completely different strategy or approach to peaking a male athlete.

As I said earlier too, given that the judges aren’t looking for a “dry” look, there will be less of a need to manipulate water/salt intake in those final few days. Some may even argue you don’t need diuretics either. Personally, I have always used them with females, and it always helps present a little bit of a better look on the day of the show.


There are certainly a few things not to do when it comes to peak week that I wanted to share.

Number one would be to not massively change up the food sources that you’re eating. You’ve probably been dieting for 16-20 weeks, and as a result, your digestive system has gotten used to processing certain foods. If all of a sudden you throw “junk food” in the hope that it’ll get you fuller, you could end up with a whole host of digestive issues. This could include bloating/gas, constipation, and/or loose stools, all of which you absolutely don’t want in those final few days, as it’ll skew the look you present.

In addition, please don’t worry about what other athletes are doing, it’ll only confuse you and lead you to thinking you might be “missing out”, when in fact, their body will work differently to yours, and any comparison wouldn’t be sensible. It can also cause a lot of anxiety and create a fear of going against competitors who might be more muscular and more experienced than you.

Lastly, as stated before, please don’t play about with under the counter diuretics. These include (but are not limited to): loop diuretics, potassium sparing diuretics, or thiazide diuretics. These all work to manipulate the body’s uptake of minerals such as sodium and potassium, to aid in flushing water from the body. The problem is that these are actually so strong, that they could make you look 10x worse than if you just avoided them. They can also be particularly dangerous to your health.

In summary, the ultimate goal of peak week will be to reduce stress and inflammation on the body. It may require some manipulation to food intake, cardio, step count, water intake and the use of some natural diuretics. This isn’t always the case for every athlete, as decisions vary from person to person, and will always be individualised. Males and bikini girls’ peaks will look very different, but the processes for the more muscular women’s divisions might have similarities. Whilst there are some common practices, there are also a few dont’s you should be aware of to not ruin the look in the final few days.

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons