12-Step Carb Loading Program

Add the appearance of 15 lbs of muscle in one week

Flex Wheeler was known for achieving drastic changes in his physique in less then 10 days. One reason for this was the implementation of successful carbohydrate depleting and loading. The system, which requires large but temporary changes in carbohydrate, sodium and water consumption, can lead to near-miracle changes in the appearance of muscle conditioning.

The process creates a temporary illusion. It’s a “quick fix” that allows a bodybuilder to appear a lot harder by virtue of fuller-looking muscles combined with less water retention. 

Whether you’re a bodybuilder who wants a quick fix to sharpen your physique for a contest or just for a trip to the beach, these are the steps to deplete and then supercharge your body with carb loading. You may be shocked by how much better — and bigger — you’ll look in just one week. 

Step No. 1 

Preprogram: increase sodium intake

In the week prior to starting your carb-cutting program, boost your intake of sodium — plain table salt. The simplest way to do this is to sprinkle salt on all of your meals. Elevating sodium increases water retention in the body and decreases the water retention hormone aldosterone. 

Remain with a higher-than-usual sodium intake until one day before carbing up during the program (in step 7). When you suddenly reduce your sodium intake at that time, and while aldosterone levels readjust, your body will excrete even more water — most of it coming directly from beneath the skin. This will lead to greater definition.

Step No. 2 

Preprogram: increase water intake

When you increase sodium, it’s important to take in roughly 50% more water than usual. That is, every time you would normally have a cup of water, make it a cup and a half, so that by the end of the day, you’ve boosted your fluid intake by 50%. Greater water intake sets up the body for greater definition at the end of the process. 

Maintain this intake until you reach step 10. 

Step No. 3 

Days 1-2: drop carbs 50%

Here’s when the carb-cutting program really begins. Drop your carb consumption by 50%. This first drop will help prevent the shock of taking your carb count too low too quickly. If you were previously eating approximately 1,500 calories from carbs per day (about normal for a 200-pound bodybuilder who consumes 3,000 calories a day for bodyweight maintenance), then cut your total carb intake to 200 grams (g) per day, focusing mostly on complex carbs, early in the day. Still, for these two days, maintain your pre- and postworkout nutrition simple carbs at approximately 50 g, divided between those two meals. 

Step No. 4 

Days 1-5: mildly increase protein

Some people go wrong at this step. When carbs drop, you must increase protein consumption to prevent muscle breakdown. However, if you increase your protein intake too much, a lot of that extra protein is burned as fuel, sparing the body from emptying its glycogen stores. Therefore, to experience the muscle-saving effect of extra protein without inhibiting the depletion of glycogen stores, elevate your protein intake only by about 50 g daily on each lower-carb day. A 200-pound bodybuilder who normally eats a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day should consume about 250 g of protein during this phase. 

Step No. 5 

Days 1-5: train with high reps

When depleting carbs for five days, you should train with higher reps — 12-18 per set — and perform 50% more sets than normal. For example, if you normally perform 10 sets for biceps, go to 15 total sets (50% more volume work) and aim for 12-18 reps per set. Of course, you’ll have to decrease the weight in order to hit that volume. However, the goal here is to lower carb reserves, and volume work is tremendously effective in doing so. It all goes back to supercompensation. The more carbs you can deplete, the greater amount you can store during the carb-up process, leading to biggerand tighter-looking muscles. 

Step No. 6 

Days 3-5: further deplete carbs

On these days, drop your carbohydrate intake to 100-150 g per day, emphasizing complexcarbohydrate sources, such as yams, oatmeal and brown rice. Take these in early in the day and target about .7 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight (a 200-pound bodybuilder should take in about 140 g of carbs daily). 

When carbohydrates drop, reserves of glycogen stored in muscles begin to decline. As glycogen levels decrease, the body begins to pump up its production of glycogen-storing enzymes. When you later pack in greater quantities of carbs, those carbstoring enzymes will help pack away these additional carbs as newglycogen, yielding fullerlooking muscles. 

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