Christine Envall Female Bodybuilder Australia


After competing in Bodybuilding shows for nine years I have no doubt in my mind that one of the most difficult aspects of competition is hitting your peak on the day.  The last week leading up to the show is crucial to hitting that peak and there are so many variables to take into account; depleting, carbing-up, water depletion, sodium and potassium levels, training, aerobics, etc, etc�..

"How do I peak for a show?" is one of the most frequently asked questions I get.  There is no guaranteed method for success, but there are a few things I have learnt over the years.


1.   There are a few basic principles which will help you to peak.

2.      If you are going to peak to your best ability you must learn how to listen to your body; know what it needs by how it looks.

3.      After speaking to many people in the sport they all agree you need to use different methods to peak the more muscled you get.

4.      Aim for a peak that will last as long as possible, not one which lasts for � an hour.

5.   When you hit your peak you know it!

To help give you an insight into peaking I will outline the training and nutritional programs I used in the 6 days prior to a contest for what I consider my most successful peaks;

Part 1 when I weighed 58kg (1995 IFBB Australasia's)

Part 2 when I weighed 72kg.  (1998 NABBA World Championships)

From these you will see some of the differences and similarities between the two methods and will hopefully be able to apply some of the principles to your own preparation. 



The show is on Saturday.  There are a few things I have already done in preparation.  I have eliminated any excess sodium from my diet a week ago by cutting out any artificially sweetened products and any products which contain added salt as well as cutting out tuna about 4 weeks previously.  I have started drinking and cooking my oats and rice in Nobles Pure Water a week ago. 

Today I do everything the same as the previous week; food quantity/number of meals � all protein is derived either from fish or chicken, carbohydrate sources are primarily oats, rice, fruit and green vegetables.  As always I am eating five meals a day.  My evening meal contains no �starchy� carbohydrates.

Training is the same; my whole body will be trained once over the next three days.  I keep my aerobics sessions the same length and frequency (2 x 30 minutes).

I make sure I practice my compulsory poses at least three times and go through my posing routine 3-4 times.


Today I start to carb-deplete.  I keep my first three meals the same, but at the 4th meal I eat flake and broccoli instead of rice cakes.  For my final meal I also eat flake and broccoli instead of chicken and mixed vegetables. 

Apart from those changes, training and aerobics stays the same.  Today is legs as this gives enough time for the legs to recover prior to the contest.

Again I practice my posing routine and compulsory poses.  This helps to harden the muscle and also gets me fit for posing on stage.


Today I eat no starchy carbs at all.  My five meals are all the same; flake and broccoli.  I work out the amount of food to eat by keeping my daily energy intake the same as it was on Monday, but it is derived only from the flake and broccoli.  This way I deplete the muscle of carbohydrate but don�t drop any unnecessary weight.  I try to drink as much water as I physically can today, usually about 4-5 litres.   This helps to flush water out of my body and also helps to remove the waste products from all the protein I am eating.  At midnight I stop drinking.

Today is my last training day prior to the competition.  Without carbs it is a tough session but I try to keep all my weights the same as what I have been using.  Generally I find I need a little extra help on the last few reps.

I keep my aerobics the same today and practice posing as per the other days.

I usually find that today I look awful; smooth, flat and watery (I panic I have done something wrong).  This is normal given that there is no carbohydrate to keep the muscle full.  It also means I am right on track for a good peak.  The point here is DON'T PANIC, stick to your plan it will be worth it on the day.


Today I start to dry so I only have small sips of water when I need it (probably drink about 250ml of water in the whole day).

Meals 1 and 2 are flake and broccoli as per Wednesday, and then at what seems like long last, I start to carb-up at about midday.  I carb-up on rice cooked with coffee powder (the rice looks almost black) and rice cakes.  I put the coffee in the rice to help dry me out.  To work out how much rice to use to carb-up today  I take the amount of rice I was eating at lunch (meal 3) in the previous week and multiply it by 1.2 and use this as my serving size.  I have as many rice cakes as I was eating in meal 2 in the week previous, so each carb-up meal might be 100g rice and 4 rice cakes.  I have this three times today.

At dinner time I also eat some flake and broccoli and some kiwi fruit (very high in potassium).  Having a good level of potassium helps keep water in the muscle and helps to eliminate water from under the skin.

I keep my aerobics the same today and do twice as much posing as the previous day.  When you start to fill up a little from the carbs you find you want to look at yourself posing as you start to look okay again after the depletion.


Today I continue to dry as per Thursday.  I cut my aerobics in half, but I do about an hour of flexing and posing during the afternoon.   I have about 5 meals of coffee rice and rice cakes.

I find I eat a few more rice cakes  if I still feel a bit flat or empty after a meal.  This is where you need to start to listen to your body, observe how it looks and feels and learn how to respond to it.  Don�t stick to the exact quantity of food you planned on eating if you feel over-stuffed or if you still feel hungry.  I find that as soon as I start to carb-up my metabolism goes into over-drive and I need to race out and buy extra rice cakes!

At about lunch time I add in a banana and a handful of raisins and dried apricots (all very high in potassium) with each meal.  They also add extra carbs without too much bulk.  It can be hard to eat a lot of dry rice cakes when you are drying.  

The size of the last meal of rice is about double the others (ie 200g).  I have this about 7pm and then sleep at about 8.30pm.  After this last meal I feel as stuffed as a cushion and feel a little nauseous; I honestly couldn't eat another mouthful.

By doing this the night before it allows time for all the carbohydrate to get into my muscle while I sleep and sets me up for the next day (contest day).  Trying to force a lot of food down on the day of the competition can by hard due to nerves and lack of time.  It can also leave you with a bloated stomach.

Usually I find that by 2am I am starving again and I wake up with hunger pains.  If I do I eat about 6 rice cakes.


The pre-judging was due to start around 10am for this particular competition so I estimate when I think I will be on stage and make sure I will be ready for this time.  I wake up at about 5am and have a large meal of coffee rice, raisins and honey.  I make sure I feel comfortable, not overstuffed. I also have about 6 rice cakes with blackberry jam (highest potassium level of all the jams).  I make up a huge pot of coffee rice and raisins and what is left after breakfast gets packed into containers to take to the competition.  I graze on this (topped with honey) throughout the morning as I feel I need it.

I also make up my 'banana mash', a combination of bananas, coffee powder, raisins and honey.  I use this when I feel a bit flat but don't feel like eating bulky rice.  I also try to finish it about half and hour before I go to pump up so I have a good supply of sugars in my blood for energy and to bring the veins out.

At about 8am I go for a short walk (about 20 minutes).  I find this relaxes me for the day ahead and helps to draw the carbohydrates into my muscles.

Today is when you really need to learn how to read your body.  I aim to keep the tight full feeling in my muscles.  If I feel flat and hungry, I eat a little more rice, if I feel flat but moderately hungry I eat some rice cakes and honey.  If I feel flat but not hungry I eat the banana mash.  If I feel like I am looking a little watery but flat I don't touch the rice and stick to the rice cakes. If I feel fine, I don't eat. 

By the third day of drying I am very dry.  I find the body can only be 'tricked' for 3 days.  Trying to dry any longer has an adverse effect on me and I start to hold water again.

About half an hour before I am due to be on stage I go backstage to start to get ready.  I finish up my banana mash, put the oil on my tan and pump-up.  When the peak has gone correctly the skin is thin and tight over the muscle and the muscles are full of glycogen.  When I start to pump-up the extra glycogen in my muscles allows me to get a massive pump just from high repetition resistance movements and no weight (there often isn't any weight back stage to use).  This pump makes the skin suck around the muscle even tighter to the point where you can actually feel the skin tuck in between the muscle heads.  While I am pumping up I drink about 250ml of water.  If you are too dehydrated, no matter how much carbohydrate you've eaten you won't get a pump.   I try to over pump the muscle about 5-10 minutes before it is time to go on stage.  I then just flex each muscle group as this holds the fullness in the muscle and brings out the striations.  I also find the veins come to the surface during this time.


Between the morning and night shows I tend to find I am not very hungry as I have eaten quite a lot during the morning.  The time between the morning and night show will often determine what to do.  If there is time I like to have a lie down for an hour and then go for a 30 minute walk.  If the night show doesn't start until as late as 7pm I will have some chicken at about 5pm.  If it starts earlier I just stick to rice cakes, honey and an apple (because it is refreshing). 

For the night show I eat about 6 rice cakes with honey about half an hour before getting ready.  I stick to rice cakes as I don't want the excess water that comes with eating rice.  I am also tired of eating by this time.

The pump up routine is pretty much the same as the morning, perhaps just a little less energetic (it's been a long tiring day).  I use more flexing than resistance movements to get the muscles to pump up.

As soon as I come off stage and the show is over I drink 500ml of diluted fruit juice and about 2 litres of water, more if I can fit it in.  This is to re-hydrate my body.  If I have another show in a week or two weeks time it is very important to  flush the body with water to prevent the dreaded dehydration rebound.  If this is the last show, then it's time to go out and eat ANYTHING!.


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