We have officially entered bodybuilding season, which means on any given Sunday athletes will be dieting down, upping their cardio and “drying out.” If you are new to bodybuilding and/or interested in what the diet down process is like, you can check out these posts:
- Same Show/Different Trainer: Weeks 12-11-10
- Same Show/Different Trainer: 9 1/2 Weeks
- Same Show/Different Trainer: Weeks 8-7-6
- Same Show/Different Trainer: Weeks 5-4-3
- (I’ll be writing about the final two weeks and the show day shortly. Only 11 days until the Adela Garcia Classic!)
You might be asking yourself right now, what is drying out and why do bodybuilders do this? The athletes with the leanest, hardest muscles tend to win the competitions because they have the most muscle definition. They get this definition by lifting weights and eating clean for months (years!). ” In the final week of preparation prior to a competition bodybuilders strive to fill out their muscles with the addition of carbohydrates, and at the same time, reduce fluids in the body in between the muscle and the skin to create the fullest and driest look possible.” (Source: Allmaxnutrition.com)
Anyway, since I have a new trainer, Melissa Merritt Coker, she asked me what I did for my dry out process with my first trainer, Daniel Ruffini. He had me do cardio in a sweatshirt and drink water in decreasing amounts throughout the week. She was happy to hear that I didn’t take diuretics, which is a very dangerous, yet common, way some athletes dry out.
Any form of dehydration, even by “natural” techniques such as excessive sweating and slow water depletion is a little risky, but with natural techniques the body can usually balance out the electrolyte levels and carry on kidney functions. Diuretics flush out all fluids, making all levels out of balance.
“Most people think bodybuilders get strokes from taking steroids. It’s not steroids; it’s diuretics. People think it’s safe because they can buy the pills over the counter but once you start messing with electrolyte and potassium levels they can literally kill themselves,” she said. Think my trainer was exaggerating to scare me? You’ve got another think coming. Here are some famous bodybuilders who suffered from diuretics use and abuse:
“In 1988, pro bodybuilder Albert Beckles collapses and convulses while on stage. He is subsequently resuscitated by paramedics and found to be suffering from diuretic-induced dehydration.
In 1992, pro bodybuilder Mohammed Benaziza dies after competing in a contest in Europe. An autopsy shows that he was severely dehydrated and experienced cardiovascular failure. He was age 33. He had used a combination of diuretics for the show.
In 1994, pro bodybuilder Paul Dillett cramps onstage while posing at the Arnold Classic. He is carted off the stage. Once again, the problem was extreme dehydration and electrolyte imbalance caused by Paul’s use of Lasix. Paul survived.
There was also the 1996 case of Andreas Munzer, renowned for his freaky conditioning, who died after his liver and kidneys failed. The autopsy revealed his electrolytes were completely out of balance.” (Source: Allmaxnutrition.com – The Good, The Bad, The Tragic)
Let’s say you take the diuretic and don’t die. Prepare yourself for a really bad recovery phase.
Julie Michaelson, a natural figure competitor (natural meaning she does not use steroids) was panicking before a competition because she wasn’t lean enough. Rather than drop out of the competition and train for the next show, her gym buddy suggested she take a prescription diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ). It worked. She lost 19 pounds in five days. But the side effects were devastating. Her blood pressure went through the roof, she couldn’t breath while doing basic things like walking up the stairs, she got her period 6 weeks out of 9 weeks following the competition and her entire body was so swollen she looked five months pregnant. (Source: Muscle & Strength: My Experience with Diuretic Use)
So if you are considering taking diuretics, please reconsider. Don’t listen to your buddy at the gym; look at the facts.
My next competition is in 11 days. I’d love to win a trophy (as would all the other contestants, I’m sure,) but I’m not willing to die for it, and neither should you.
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