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Water Manipulation for Cuts and Striations


I’m often asked how to manipulate water prior to a contest or photo shoot to get as ripped and hard-looking as possible. Everyone is different and may react differently to fluid manipulations, but here is what I do during the last week before the event.

I’ve tried salting some of my meals during the first part of the week while simultaneously increasing my fluid intake. That can produce fuller muscles onstage, but it can be somewhat tricky because the sodium will cause you to retain more water, so increasing your fluid intake at the same time will naturally lead to your body holding more water underneath the skin.

That’s fine as long as you eliminate all that subcutaneous water in time for the contest at the end of the week. To do that, eliminate the excess sodium from your diet two to three days before your event, and then cut back on your fluid intake early enough that you lose the subcutaneous water while retaining muscle fullness.

What I have done in the past is to increase my water intake to two to 2 1/2 gallons a day during the first part of the week (Sunday through Tuesday). Then I cut back on the sodium (egg whites and protein powders) on Thursday and Friday and start to cut back on my water intake starting on Wednesday. I drink 1 1/2 gallons on Wednesday, one gallon on Thursday and 1/2 gallon on Friday.

Many bodybuilders mistake bodyfat for water retention. They think that they’re just “holding water,” which they believe they can eliminate in a day or two before the contest; but in actuality they have more fat left to lose. Don’t let that happen to you.

You should be very close to ready to step onstage one week before your actual contest. If you are lean and ripped with one week to go, you will know that you have eliminated most of your bodyfat, and the little bit of water retention that you have remaining can be easily expelled in the last few days before the contest. If you’re expecting a big change due to taking out the sodium and cutting back on your water, you will most likely be disappointed in the results.

—John Hansen

Mr. Natural Olympia

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