Dropping water before a show – Phil D

dropping water

Dropping water before a show

Dropping water is an important part of show preparation and getting it right is essential to get hard on stage. Unfortunately, there are many confusing procedures out there. The most common one is to decrease your water intake gradually in the week leading up to the contest. These methods may include the use of diuretics. Then there is the way that makes physiological sense.

First, we have to understand how the body works. Your body needs a certain amount of water a day to function. Generally, people will be a  balanced water state. This means their water intake and water loss is in balance. The body gets enough water to function and to excrete toxins and by-products. How does the body maintain a stock of water to function?

It does this by either holding back water or dropping water based on what it needs and what it is getting. More salts in your system will cause water retention and fewer salts will cause the body to lose water. The body uses water to get rid of the salts. If there is not enough water you end up dehydrated. The body begins to leach water from the tissues and muscles to function and your muscles go flat with a pronounced loss in strength.

Controlling water dropping

The key to controlling water and dropping water lies in the fact that the body takes time to react to the change in water intake. Gradual changes in water intake will give the body time to react and either increase water retention or drop water. The body will take between 6 and 12 hours to react to a change in water intake. It is this window that allows you to drop water for a short period of time, like being on stage.

Here are the physiological workings of the way you should drop water. From about 5 to 7 days out you start drinking a large amount of water throughout the day. After a period of time, the body will start flushing water out and you’ll have to pee regularly. The body sees a large amount of water coming in so it dumps a lot of water because it sees it as excess. As you keep doing this, the body starts cycling water instead of holding on to it. One of the places that concern us it the skin. The thinner the skin the harder you look. Because of cycling the skin will hold less and less water and become thinner. The skin is a major storage area for water.

The process

This process will take a few days so that’s why you have to start at least 5 days out. Now you reach a point where you can take advantage of the bodies lag in reacting to change. You stop all water intake the night before the contest. You can suck on blocks of ice to help with the dry mouth that develops. Because the body is in a state of extreme flushing it will carry on cycling water out the body. Because of very little or no water coming in you end up with the minimum amount of water in the skin when you go on stage.

You can see here how gradually reducing water intake leading up to the contest actually has the opposite effect because the body will hold onto that water instead of dropping it.


There are some subtle considerations here. Some guys will drink 500ml of Energade before going on stage to fill out, similar to the carbo-loading effect. The thinking is that the body will have reached the point where it sees a massive water shortage so the water that comes in gets shunted straight to the muscles helping you to fill out a bit. Especially if the fluid contains sugars. Timing is a factor here and everybody will react slightly differently depending on when you drink. Another method is to use some water to allow the carbohydrate intake to be more effective when you add carbs into your diet the night before the contest. Again you are taking advantage of the bodies lag at reacting. I like this method, but you may have to go through many contests to find out exactly what timing works for you. The more you do it the better you’ll get at it.

Other considerations.

The process will work much better if you use distilled water. Because there are no salts whatsoever in distilled water, the body will begin flushing much faster. This means you can start the water dropping procedure later. or use less water to get a good effect.

The next consideration is diuretics. By using these in conjunction with the water dropping procedure you can accelerate the effect, both while flushing and when you stop the intake of water. The use of diuretics can be dangerous. Diuretics like Lasix will flush out minerals like potassium and this can affect the muscle fullness, kidney failure or create heart issues in extreme cases. Aldactone (Speractin) is more popular because it has a potassium-sparing effect. The shorter the use of diuretics the less chance you have of ending up flat or having serious side effects.

Guys using the gradual decrease in water intake method will find themselves flat if they then try and use diuretics. The reason is that the diuretics keep pushing water out but because of the method, they use the body is already in a state of dehydration.

To recap.

High water intake will cause the body to drop water. By stopping 12 hours out from the contest, the body will not react fast enough so you’ll keep on dropping water allowing you to get on stage harder. Control your water intake during carbo-loading so you can get the muscles fuller without having water stored in the skin. Keep careful track of your actions so you know where and how much to adjust the next time you go through the procedure.