Leg Day AND Low Carb Day (Lousy Combination), Plus Start Of Final Week Prep


Sunday, September 25th. Strong and Shapely Gym. Leg Day… And back to low carbs again (first day of “depletion phase” actually). Low carb day and leg day… not my favorite combination, LOL! I’ll tell you, it took every ounce of energy I could muster up to get through this one. It was good to have a training partner today to push me and keep me going.

QUADS (a.m.)

A1 Leg Extension (Nautilus Nitro machine)
2 warm up sets
3 sets X 170 lbs X 12-15 reps
A2 Bulgarian Split Squat
3 sets X 30 lbs X 12-15 reps, ¾ reps continuous tension
B1 Front Squat Machine (3/4 reps, continuous tension)
Set 1: 2 plates & quarters each side X 20 reps
Set 2: 3 plates X 15 reps
Set 3: 3 plates & quarters X 13 reps
C1 Hammer Strength Isolateral Leg Extension
Set 1: 50 lbs X 15 reps
Set 2: 50 lbs X 15 reps
Set 3: 75 lbs X 11 reps
C2 barbell Lunges
Set 1: 115 lbs X 40 reps (20 reps per leg), one leg at a time, dynamic (stepping)
Set 2; 115 lbs X 40 reps (20 reps per leg), alternating dynamic
Set 3: 115 lbs X 30 reps (15 reps per leg), one leg at a time, static (pulsing

up and


A1 Stiff Legged Deadlift
4 sets X 195, 205, 215, 215 lbs X 20, 15, 12, 10 reps
B1 Lying Leg Curl, one leg at a time
3 sets X 70 lbs X 8-12 reps per leg
C1 45 degree Hyperextension
3 sets X bodyweight X 12-15 reps, squeeze at top of every rep


A1 Calf Press on Cybex rotary calf machine
3 sets X 180 lbs (4 plates) X 15-20 reps
B1 Calf raise on Front squat machine
3 sets X 450, 540, 630 lbs X 20-25 reps
C1 Seated Calf Machine
3 sets X 115 lbs X 20-25 reps

Workout Commentary

This mega-low carb stuff is for the birds. I’d rather start 4 or even 5 months
out next contest season, or just stay a LOT leaner (in fact, maybe both!), and eat more carbs the whole time through. Doing legs under this kind of deprivation was like cruel and unusual punishment! I was definitely working out on pure adrenaline and nervous energy today. But hey, I’m always up for a challenge.

Kostas and I arrived at Strong and Shapely Gym at about 10:30 am and after 10 minutes warmup
on the stepmill, we dove right into leg extensions supersetted to Bulgarian split squats.

I’ve mentioned many times in past blogs that I love the pre exhaust superset of leg extensions
to dumbbell split squats (static lunges), but the Bulgarian split squat takes it up one more
notch. The only difference between the Bulgarian split squat and a regular split squat is that on
the regular version, your rear leg is on the ground. In the Bulgarian split squat, your rear leg
is elevated up on a bench or some other type of support, about a foot and a half or two feet off
the floor.

No locking out on these – it was continuous tension about ¾ of the way up and then all the way
back down … slowly! Somewhere between 12 and 15 reps the burn got so intense it felt like a blow
torch! (and the split squats were done AFTER the leg extensions – pre-exhausted). Only 30 lbs in
each hand here. Body weight probably would have destroyed many people.

The next exercise was the front squat machine. I like these because they keep the stress off
my lower back and I feel it much more in the front quads and not in the hips & butt. Three sets
of 12-20 reps only going ¾ of the way up; slow, continuous tension movements.

For the next exercise, we did hammer strength leg extensions. Even though we started with
extensions on a nautilus machine, the hammer strength leg extension is a totally different feel,
plus it’s isolateral which makes it a very unique piece. If you don’t concentrate on bringing
each leg up at the same time, they will come up unevenly. These hammer extensions were
supersetted into barbell lunges. High reps, and changing the style with each set; alternating,
dynamic, static.

For hamstrings it was stiff legged deadlifts. I was definitely running on fumes at this point,
but somehow I got through four sets of 10-20 reps with 195 to 215 lbs. Felt like 275 today.

We wrapped it up with one legged leg curls and then 45 degree hyperextensions – really
squeezing on the hypers today to work on that hamstring – glute tie in.

Today (Sunday) was the first day of the final week preparation. I go through a 3 day carb
depletion Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. These three days are also a “hydration” phase, also known
as the water flush. I drink three gallons a day during this time. Actually I got three and a half
gallons down today… somehow… (actually, I’ll tell you how — I stayed very close to a bathroom
all day long!)

I’m not the physiology geek I used to be, but I believe the reason this water flush works so
well is that it lowers antidiuretic hormone (ADH) output which would cause your body to hold on
to water. Drink water like crazy for three days and your body flushes it out, even after you cut
it or taper it later in the week (science “geeks” feel free to chime in on the comments)

Some people continue the heavy water intake until Thursday or even Friday before the show then
cut the water abruptly. I prefer to water load three days only Sunday, Monday Tuesday, then taper
a bit Wednesday and Thursday, and then cut Friday. I’ve competed 26 times, so I’ve had plenty of
time to experiment with this. You have to experiment to find out what works for you. In either
case, virtually everyone I know agrees that the water has to get cut by Friday afternoon or
Friday evening and on the day of the show (sips only, with food or to wash down your supps).

This procedure – 3 days carb deplete/ water flush then 3 days carb load/ water taper / then
dehydrate, works like a charm for me… At times, I have come in not quite peaked 100% in terms of body fat, but I have never failed to come in dry in any of my recent shows. The amount of weight I lose (in water) from Wednesday to Saturday is sometimes quite alarming, but this can work to my advantage in the future as I gain muscular weight, because if necessary, I will still be able to compete as a middleweight, even if I’m weighing in the mid to upper 180’s just days before the show.

Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday I keep my sodium at normal levels and I do not restrict it. I do not “sodium load”, but I do know some people who do that successfully. I pull back on sodium only on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (show day). At no other time during my entire precontest diet do I pay much attention to sodium. In fact, during early precontest dieting I sometims use high sodium condiments, spices, salsa or Braggs liquid aminos (like soy sauce) for flavoring.

The rest of these three depletion days is business as usual – double cardio, and regular weight training. I admit it is not ideal to have to be doing cardio the final week. Better to reduce it in volume and intensity or cut it out completely about 5-7 days before the show. Unfortunately, this time, I still feel that I have not reached 100% conditioning and can stand to get leaner, so I’m keeping the cardio in until Wednesday.

My weight training schedule is the same as usual this week, although I do push up the training volume (more sets) and reps (12-15, some sets as high as 20 reps) a little higher than usual to
really deplete the glycogen. Many people do a full body depletion workout as their last workout (usually Wednesday before a Saturday show). I’ve tried that several times before, but noticed no difference between that and my regular workouts, so my usual routine nowadays is just to continue with my regular workouts right up until Wednesday before a Saturday show. Wednesday morning is the last workout – lifting then cardio in one long session. No training at all Thursday and Friday, although I do some pretty intense posing those days, which is a workout in itself.

I can’t say that MY final week protocol will work for everyone, as everyone is different. I have seen all kinds of final week protocols that seem to have worked for various individuals – everything from “fat loading” to “sh*t loading” – and I’m NOT joking about the latter… that is a real “technique.” Some bodybuilders, after seeing themselves look BETTER the day after the post contest pig out binge, decided to eat the pig out meal (“sh*t food”), BEFORE the contest the next time around. I
haven’t had the guts to try that one yet (although God knows I’ve wanted to), but remind me, and one of these days I’ll tell you about the baked ziti, wine, and cheesecake story.

The fact is, there are some fairly universal pre contest final week guidelines that will work
for almost everyone, but a certain degree of experimentation is the only real way to figure out
what works for you.

More info on the final week and my further adventures in starvation and dehydration next time…
just kidding, just kidding (well, sort of)

Filed under Workouts by on . Comment#

Comments on Leg Day AND Low Carb Day (Lousy Combination), Plus Start Of Final Week Prep Leave a Comment

September 30, 2005

Jane @ 5:35 am #

Tom, I’ve been following this blog with open mouthed admiration (and using it as inspiration for my rather more basic attempt to get into some kind of shape). Just wanted to wish you luck for the big contest day. I hope you will be able to post photos after the event!

simon @ 6:56 am #

hi tom,
awesome article and good luck at your show. I`m getting some real good results from your e book Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle. Thanks

Mariela @ 11:25 am #

Thank you for sharing this. I had always wondered how bodybuilders dehydrate for contests. I didn’t know it involves drinking much water first. Makes sense, though.
I have noticed that when I diet (cycling) and workout very intensely most days of the week, for about two or three weeks, I look “fluffed”, then if I take a long break of three days in a row of pure rest (not even light cardio) I look leaner.
At first is frustrating because it seems that my hard work is not paying off, but after the three day rest, the results definitely show off.
I can understand the fellows that pig out the day before the show, because I have had similar experiences. (I don’t compete or anything, just talking about “real life” experiences). Maybe it has something to do with being relaxed.

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