Contest Prep: 12 weeks to Peak Week

Almost three months ago, I competed in my first ever NPC bodybuilding show. I competed in three categories — True Novice Bikini, Open Bikini, and Novice Figure. It was a very interesting experience for me and now I’m ready to share my experience with you!

I’ve always wanted to do a competition ever since my husband got me hooked on lifting. I wanted to be able to prove to myself that I was doing this for a reason. People have said to me “don’t lift too much, you’ll look like a man” and I wanted to prove them wrong. I think that muscles on women are beautiful!

So last year, I decided to get a trainer, buckle down on my diet, and sign up. After getting a sponsorship, I dived right in! I loved lifting and eating all the clean food. But then there was cutting…

12 week prep

Prepping for a bodybuilding competition was one of the most difficult things I had ever done. “Cutting” is the term used by bodybuilders in contest prep who are cutting their fat while trying to keep muscle. I had to be incredibly strict on my diet and workout two to three times a day. I was getting physically and mentally exhausted.


12 weeks out, I was 140 lbs and my comp suits were digging into me still. I was determined to fit in my suits so I had a daily ritual of fasted cardio every morning. I would walk on an incline treadmill or stairmill for 30-45 minutes.

At 8 weeks out, I started to drastically cut my carbs down. I went from eating about 2500 calories to 2000, decreasing about 100 calories (25 g of carbs) per week. I was around 135 lbs. My carb sources of rice and potatoes were being replaced with large volumes of asparagus (a natural diuretic) and green beans (high in fiber). I can tell you now that I would be very happy if I never saw another green bean again!

8 weeks – 6 weeks – 4 weeks – 3 weeks – 2 weeks

At 4 weeks out, I was 130 lbs and the grumpiness has kicked in due to the 1300 calorie diet. I am very fortunate to have a loving husband who would always be patient with me. He knew that it was my carb-depleted brain talking, not his loving wife! He would always push me when I felt like giving up on my goals and made sure I ate all my foods.

8 weeks – 6 weeks – 4 weeks – 3 weeks – 2 weeks

Then at two weeks out, the hell that is water depletion began…

Dehydrating Using Distilled Water

To get the “lean look” for stage, dehydration is key to tightening your skin and losing that last bit of fat due to water weight.

My trainer was very into all natural and organic supplementation so my water depletion was a combination of distilled water and dandelion root diuretics. Two weeks out, I drank between 2-2.5 gallons of distilled water a day. (My teachers did not appreciate the number of bathroom breaks I needed!).

Peak Week

One week out, we began to reduced my water intake by half a gallon everyday until the night before when I would drink a bottle of water before noon. And that was it except for a few sips on show day. I would also be taking diuretics starting three days out and drinking red wine the night before to really dehydrate and tighten my skin.


I was 124 lbs on show day. It was the smallest weight I’ve ever been at this height.



Looking Back…

…I was so unhealthy. People always praise bodybuilders for how they look on stage. What most people don’t understand is that the stage look is actually when the athlete is starved, dehydrated, and cramping. Prep messes with your head because you’re not eating a lot of carbs which help your neurons to function properly. I was amazed that I was able to do prep and go to school without failing.

I look back on 12 weeks out and noticed that I was larger, but looked healthy. Looking at peak week, I can see my ribs and hip bones – normally a sign of an eating disorder. But this was “the look” we were going for. I definitely lost a lot of muscle definition during prep, something I was trying to avoid.

For my next show, I’m taking the time to really build the muscle, but stay around my current body fat percentage. I like the idea of more of a lean bulk than a full bulk so that way, my next prep won’t be so hard on my body.



Be sure to follow me for my next fitness post – Show Day!

And remember – Stay creative, Stay strong, Stay YOU!

2 thoughts on “Contest Prep: 12 weeks to Peak Week

    1. My lifting definitely suffered. I went from triple digit squats to barely being able to do 95lbs. I was just very carb depleted so I didn’t have to energy to lift heavy. So I mostly did low-weight/high-reps to promote fat burning without using too much energy.


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