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Build muscle with the pump

What is a muscle pump?

The ‘muscle pump’ is a term thrown around the fitness industry, usually by gym rats who have spent the last 15 minutes staring at their bulging biceps. It was once believed to boost the size of your muscles temporarily, however, research has shown otherwise.

What is a ‘muscle pump’?

The pumped-up feeling occurs when the time under tension is increased during exercises. Blood rushes to the muscles and fills them so that your body can keep delivering key nutrients and energy supplies to the muscles so they can manage the stress.

Arnold Schwarzennegar once said that a good muscle pump is as better than an orgasm!

How can I get a muscle pump?

Get the pumped up feeling through increasing the time under tension during your exercises. Stick to isolation exercises that only work one muscle group. This is the best way to increase hypertrophy over time. However, you can get a pump using compound lifts such as squats or a bench press.

There are two ways you can get the pump:

  • Complete your normal workout and then perform some drop sets. An example of a drop set using bicep curls could be:
    • 15kg x 10 reps for 3 sets (performed normally with normal rest intervals)
    • 13kg till failure on set 4 (no rest)
    • 12kg till failure on set 5 (no rest)
    • 11kg till failure on set 6 (all done, now you can relax)
  • Perform some high rep warm-ups before moving into the exercise. An example of this using a tricep extension could be:
    • 8kg x 30 x 2 sets with 30 seconds rest (warm-ups to get the pump)
    • 15kg x 10 x 3 sets (with 60 seconds rest)

Building muscle with the pump

Plenty of bodybuilders will tell you the only way to build muscle is by getting a good pump. In many ways, they are correct. However, you need not spend all your time chasing the pump. It worthwhile remembering that your body will adapt and get used to the stress by simply employing more slow twitch muscle fibres (endurance muscles) which do not benefit from ‘muscle pump’.

I recommend using it as a catalyst for growth when you’ve reached a plateau and are finding it hard to increase your muscle mass.

Remember, stick to isolation exercises to gain the most muscle mass!

I hope today’s blog post has helped you in some way. For more advice, look at my other health and fitness blogs.


If you would like to get some more direct advice or would like to enquire about personal training, send me a tweet at @CalvinWPT or reach me on Facebook.

From your local Online Coach and Personal Trainer in Stockport, Manchester. You can do this and good luck!

Calvin W PT
Personal Trainer & Online Coach

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