What’s up people? I hope everyone is well. It’s getting colder outside but the contest season is really heating up as the BIG shows are just around the corner, so obviously contest prep topics are something constantly on my mind. This past weekend I had a client call me and tell me that he felt he was holding water. Now typically I think that 99% of people who say they are ‘holding water’ just aren’t in shape, but I knew he was in shape, but I figured he was probably paranoid. But he was very convinced that he was in deed not nearly as tight as he had been. So what do we do? What can we do if we get to the day before or dare I say the day of the show and for whatever reason we are holding water? Most people would say ‘cut water’ or ‘take a diuretic. I would have to disagree with that.
What you have to remember is that even if you are holding water under the skin, cutting water is not the best way to get rid of it. If you are holding water under the skin & you cut it then you are just going to increase aldosterone even more and reabsorb more water from the nephrons into the interstitial space. When you cut water or take a diuretic you will not be able to control where you take it from… it is going to come out of muscle and out of the subcutaneous tissue; the problem is it’s going to come out in the same ratio contained by the two areas. If we think about Le Chatelier’s principle we can start to make sense of it. For those of you who haven’t had a lot of chemistry, Le Chatelier’s principle can be used to predict the effect of a change in conditions on a chemical equilibrium. It can be summarized as: “If a chemical system at equilibrium experiences achange in concentration, temperature, volume, or total pressure; the equilibrium will shift in order to partially counter-act the imposed change.” For example, let’s say we have 2 reactions: A —-> B—–> C. If you remove C, then you will accelerate the conversion of B to C, and also accelerate the conversion of A to B. PULLING the reaction forward. Now if you reduce the amount of A, then the conversion of A to be will slow and therefore, the movement of B to C will also slow in order to maintain equilibrium. By the same token, let’s look at water distribution assuming A is water in the muscle, B is water in the interstitial space, and C is water in the kidneys. If you take a diuretic to increase water excretion, (in our example, removal of C) you will therefore accelerate the removal of B (interstitial) but you will also accelerate the removal of A at the same rate to maintain equilibrium. The ratio of water in each compartment stays the same, all you have managed to do is reduce water in all departments and flatten yourself out. So what happens if we cut water? If you cut water then you are reducing the input of A into the system. This will reduce the movement of A into B, and will subsequently reduce the movement of B into C. In this case the kidney totally restricts it’s excretion of water due to the reduced input in order to maintain equilibrium. Again the distribution of water in the compartments is unchanged, there is just less water everywhere and so you are just flatter everywhere.
So what do you do? You’ve only got days or worst case, hours until you have be onstage and you have to tighten up. What can you do? Your best bet is to MOVE the water by changing the equilibrium. That is taking the water from the interstitial space and moving it into the muscle tissue. The best way to do that is to start doing a good hard pump up workout for anywhere to 20-40 minutes. There is no need to go heavy, just a circuit with lighter weights to get a really good pump going. This is going to do a few things
1) Increase blood flow and blood pressure helping to push water from the interstitial area into the vascular system.
2) Upregulate skeletal muscle GLUT-4 receptors, causing your muscle to pull more glucose from the interstitial space into the muscle and a lot of water along with it
3) It will increase perspiration, which isn’t always a good thing but if you are in fact holding water it may help get rid of excess water in subcutaneous tissue.
So what happened to our mystery man who was holding water? Well he didn’t cut water, he didn’t take a diuretic, he just did a nice circuit training routine the night before the show and then again the morning of the show. That night he called me to tell me he tightened up and won his show. Don’t thank me though… thank Henry Louis Le Chatelier. Who would have known a dead French geek from the late 1800s would be helping people win bodybuilding shows in the 21st century?