Week in week out you will see statuses on social media about bikini girls who are drinking litres and litres of water just before they stop drinking anything 48hrs before their show and drink wine the night before.
Is this right? Is this needed? Why do they do this?
Water Manipulation, or dehydrating as its otherwise known as, is a tool that was created back in the 1960’s by body builders to look tighter on stage.
The process was developed to manipulate the bodies way of storing water so that the skin looked ‘thinner’ or ‘tighter’ against the muscles and thus look leaner.
So why and how does this work for body builders?
Well, its fairly simple actually. The key thing to know is that hydration and water retention, although not directly linked, will have an influence on each other. The more water we consume (hydration) the less water the body will retain within the muscles and also below the body fat between the muscles and skin layers.
The other thing to really understand is that taking Androgens (steroids) will increase such water retention within the muscles and also in body fat. This is due to its relationship with oestrogen and the salt/water balance within the body. Essentially, the higher the oestrogen levels, the more water the body will retain.
So the method to temporarily remove this stored water, due to the androgens, was developed so that on the day of the show, there were little to no signs of this water retention.
You are now probably thinking at this point “ok great, well women have oestrogen and thus water manipulation is exactly what they need to do to look leaner…..”
NO! is the answer. Its not the same.
Taking androgens, for men, will increase the natural levels of oestrogen significantly as the levels of testosterone are incredible high. This means that a water manipulation can in fact help temporarily with their desired look.
When it comes to women WHO DO NOT TAKE STEROIDS/ANDROGENS then a water manipulation will make them look WORSE on the day and its also very very unhealthy and will make them feel very unwell on the day!
The natural levels of oestrogen within the female body allow retention to be stable for most of the time. During their monthly cycle, this will elevate slightly (as most women will experience) due to the temporary increase in oestrogen. This is a natural system that is direct result of a hormonal stress and the retention is the bodies way of coping with this. ITS NORMAL! ITS NATURAL!
When a women forces water into their system that is excessive to their needs, the kidneys have to function at a much higher rate than normal. This puts a large stress on the system, particularly if you then do this over a 7 day period. Yes, drinking more water will help reduce water retention within the body (both muscle and body fat), however there is a fine line between optimal hydration and causing a stress.
One thing that many people don’t realise is that when we are OVER hydrated, the body struggles to store electrolytes within the muscles. This means that the more water we consume the less electrolytes we can hold within the muscle cells. Say after 7 days of drinking more and more water, you’d be lucky if you have any electrolytes left.
What are electrolytes used for? Essentially allowing the muscles to contract. They are literally the connecting path ways between muscles for the nervous system.
No electrolytes = muscles that cant contract properly…. which results in agonising cramp. Have fun with posing in this scenario!
So what we also know is that many bikini competitors will also “carb load” the day before a competition to look fuller.
However, a muscle needs 3 things to look fuller – water, electrolytes and carbohydrates. We know that with a water manipulation we are forcing the body to get rid of water, both within the muscle and also body fat. We also know that this process will remove electrolytes too.
So how can we expect the muscles to store carbohydrates when we have removed 2 of the 3 elements needed for the cells to function?
Has the penny dropped yet?
This water manipulation process was developed by body builders who took androgens. It was not designed for women who do not take those drugs.
It fact, doing this process when you don’t take androgens will indeed make you look worse on the day. You may indeed feel a little tighter from a ‘body fat’ perspective, but you wont be anywhere near as full.
Whats the quickest way to look leaner? Cut water? No…. Make your muscles bigger by stretching the skin over them. Allow your muscles to store more carbs and electrolytes and YOU WILL LOOK TIGHTER, FEEL FULLER AND A LOT MORE ENERGETIC AND FULLER.
The idea you also then need to get drunk is just idiotic. I’ve seen women fall over on stage because they are pissed…. that really doesn’t win competitions.
We go into specific granular detail on this topic at my Bikini Seminar in July.
If you’re interested in learning how to prep for a bikini show with health and happiest at the forefront, want to reduce the risk of rebounding and actually enjoy the process, then checkout the Life Changing Fitness Bikini Camp on the 23rd and 24th of July.