Looking good man, agreed that you’re in a good place, but it’ll be important to continue progress and avoid any further bumps in the road.
It’s hard to give any specific advice without knowing you, your history, what you’ve been doing throughout your prep so far, etc. There are SO many factors that play in to getting down to sub 5% for the stage, and everyone is different. Some people benefit from doing more HIIT training to get down there, for me once I got to 8-9% I stopped HIIT training and added another LISS session because HIIT was doing more harm than good. Some people benefit from lowering carbs, others not as much.
Ultimately, if you’re stalled or not losing at the rate you want to, you need to create more of a deficit, which can be done either by eating less, adding more cardio, or a combination of both. For me I was able to get to 10% easily with moderate carbs and relatively little cardio. To dial in to stage level though, I had to lower carbs, add ludicrous amounts of LISS and make sure I had a refeed when needed.
I feel ya. If you’re doing it right for a bodybuilding show, the last 4-5 weeks will leave you feeling drained and wondering how you’re even going to walk from A to B. A common phrase is that the ones who look the best usually suffered the most and embraced the suck.
If you had to bail out of a show last year, and are having trouble getting down to stage ready this year, IMO hiring a coach would be a smart move. There are so many variables in getting to stage conditioning, the advice you get on here will hopefully help things go in the right direction, but ultimately having someone who knows every detail about what you’ve been doing, how you handle things and has been there before would be ideal. Just my .02.
Personally I did LISS on my high carb days, not as much as the other days though. It’s not as much about refilling glycogen stores, that’s not a priority on a prep. A high carb day boosts leptin production, and sends a temporary signal to your body that it’s not dying and doesn’t need to hold on to it’s resources, especially as you get leaner it’ll be important to know how often to refeed and how many carbs to take. Doesn’t take a ton. Especially as you get leaner, you may benefit from lowering carb intake on refeed days because it won’t take as much to get the job done. Refeed days are all about more carbs, but you want to only take what is necessary to send the right signals and keep progress moving.