“Muscle pumping” is an amazing feeling associated with training and lifting weights. There is a feeling of tension in the muscles and skin that accompanies a great strength training session. If you are a bodybuilder, in addition to weight progression, you should aim for that feeling at the end of every workout. What exactly is the muscle pump?
Muscle pumping occurs during exercise due to increased blood flow in the strained muscle group. Not only is it a cool feeling in the muscles, but also a sign that with the increased blood flow, more oxygen and nutrients are entering the muscle cells. Hence, the pump can speed up muscle growth, recovery, and the overall results of your workout.
Another benefit of the pump in terms of muscle growth is that Expansion of the fascia. Fascia act like a belt, connecting a muscle group with one another and, in many cases, with its neighboring muscle. As more blood is drawn into the muscle cells, the fascia stretches and makes room for the muscle to grow.
6 ways to increase your muscle pump
Since we know the benefits mentioned earlier, here are a few ways you can increase the muscle pump and vascularity in your muscles.
1. Load up with carbohydrates for a better muscle pump
The main idea is to get enough carbohydrates before training. Rich Gaspari, a legend in the sport of bodybuilding, says, “If you want to get a great muscle pump, your muscles should be filled with glycogen while you exercise.” Glycogen is not only a source of energy that keeps your body energized during exercise, but it’s also one of the main factors in keeping your muscles looking big and full.
A lack of glycogen is the main reason muscles look flattened on a low-carb diet. You need to get enough carbohydrates before a workout if you want a good pump
2. Drink more water for a bigger muscle pump
Water is the other major factor that makes your muscles look full and big. After all, our body is made up of more than 70% water. Take a dehydrated food like vegetables or fruits for example. Without water, they look wrinkled and lifeless. Similar to the fruits, your muscles look small and wrinkled when dehydrated.
A balanced water level will keep your blood volume higher and muscles looking bigger. A higher volume of water in the blood automatically means a bigger pump during training.
Make sure you drink about 500 ml of water about 30 minutes before your workout and drink enough water during your workout.
3. Keep your muscles tight.
Try to make your exercises slower and more controlled. Try adding more repetitions to your sets while working with heavy enough weights. A good rule of thumb is that if you want to increase your pumps, you can try doing sets of 12-15 reps. If the weights are too light, you won’t get the pump. Because of this, you need to choose weights that will allow you to bring 12-15 reps to a FAILED
4. Add Supersets and Drop Sets to your workout.
Supersets and drop kits can dramatically increase the blood flow to your muscles, making the muscles pump.
Supersets – when you do sets of two (or more) exercises without pausing in between. For example, you bench your chest, complete the set, and immediately begin a set of barbell rows for your back without a break.
Drop sets – In drop sets, you continue the same exercise with lower weights as soon as you reach muscle failure with the working weight. Fatigue comes much later in this case than in supersets. With every further drop in weight, more blood flows into the muscle cells, which increases the effect of the “muscle pump”. You should aim for 2-3 weight losses.
5. Shorter rest periods
The athlete trying to pump his muscles should take shorter rest periods. Shorter rest periods ensure that more blood flows through the muscle tissue, which leads to an increased “feeling of pumping”. Try to keep the weights moderately heavy or you will lose the benefits of shorter rest periods. The main idea is to keep your rest periods between 40 and 60 seconds. The shorter the rest period, the more intense the training.
6. Use nutritional supplements that stimulate blood circulation
Nitric oxide or NO (occurring naturally in the body) is a highly reactive gas molecule that plays a role in the transport of information between cells (neurotransmitters). Its main role is to control the relaxation and widening of blood vessels, which allows blood flow to pass easily. Nitric oxide works by widening blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow through them.
Arginine – Arginine is one of the main components of nitric oxide boosters. It increases blood flow, vascularity, and energy during exercise.
Remember that while pumps are a factor in helping muscle growth, you still need heavy weights and progress to build big muscles. Use higher rep exercises after you’ve done the heavy lifting.