Dialing It In: Water Manipulation to get You Stupid Lean

This Ian Lauer Nationals NPC 2011 absarticle may seem like it only applies to the small number of you who plan on competing at some point. This is not the case. Anyone who is sitting at a reasonably low body fat percentage (<12%) and wants to go from simply “lean” to “holy hell” can benefit from this. Here I will lay out how to manipulate water levels and storage to make you look both leaner and more muscular in 5 days. This particular routine has actually been used by a number of competitors. That being said, I cannot advocate the off-label use of diuretics, they are potentially lethal, so that section is strictly hypothetical. Proceed at your own risk, brave little jacked man.

The Issue

You’re lean, you’ve been working hard on your diet, and you have a special event coming up (beach, party, etc) that requires you be shredded. This is easily accomplished if you are already at decently low body fat. Now is the time when you have to critically assess yourself in the mirror. You will not magically get shredded if you’re sitting at 18% body fat.

A lot of bodybuilders will lie to themselves and say they are “holding water” coming into a show, when in reality they are holding fat. This only ends up hurting you, because the methods described here will change where you hold water, not burn off all your fat.

The Solution

Food Intake

At least 5 days before hand keep your carbohydrates at or below 50g a day. This will likely involve no direct carb intake, as it is really easy to get 50g of “tag-a-long” carbs with your protein. This is going to cause your muscle to use up the carbs it has stored  locally, known as glycogen. Glycogen depletion will result in the muscle looking less full and round, which is fine for the days before hand. When you re introduce carbs, glycogen super compensation will bring it back in a big way.

On the day before the event, ramp carbs up to about 300-350 grams spread evenly throughout the day. These should be dry, starchy carbs (e.g bagels, pasta, rice, etc) they should not have a bunch of refined sugar  or too much water, you’ll have to start controlling fluid intake soon. The day of the event should consist of more of the same, roughly even (40% pro/40% carb/20% fat) meals. This is really all you need to know as far as food intake is concerned. Moving on.

Water Intake

You would think that manipulating water intake would affect the amount of water in your body pretty significantly right? As it turns out, not really. That’s because the amount of water you have around needs to be kept in a very tight range for everything to run smoothly in your body. So we’re really only going to be reducing water intake on the day before and the day of the event.  At the meal before your last meal of the day , cut out water completely. Why?

Remember glycogen from earlier? Glycogen is sugar + water in muscle tissue. When you start introducing all these carbs, they have to take water with them into the muscle (about 3g water per 1g of carbohydrate), so if there is no water around, they’ll take the water floating around under your skin and in your fat. Water should be sipped only as needed through beach day.


There are many OTC water loss pills.  Most contain dandelion root and other herbs known to be diuretic agents.  That being said, extreme caution when taking any diuretic is important.  Extreme dehydration can lead to death.

Epsom salt baths will remove a lot of subcutaneous water and make vascularity prominent.

And that’s it essentially. This is your ticket for being freaky on the beach or on stage. To be honest, the biggest mistake that bodybuilders make in this process is over thinking it. This will lead them to do silly things like “fat load” and not refeed enough carbohydrates.

Go forth and be shredded.

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