Your muscle pump?

Your muscle pump

What Exactly Is A Muscle Pump?

As you begin weight training/bodybuilding your muscle pump is what you will begin to experience early on in your weight training, this sensation you’re receiving is from your muscles swelling up generally well beyond their normal size...

Even your veins will show, and after three or four sets. You should begin to, really feel the pump.

This stimulating sense in males and in females can make you feel bigpowerful and very energy driven. This sensation can be controlled somewhat and even increased, if you keep your training intense enough and stay continually focused on every repetition of each set you’re performing.

A good muscle pump is produced in weight training from exercises performed strictly to produce a contraction with each repetition. This contraction will push blood, oxygen and nutrients into the muscle fibers of the muscles being worked.

Your muscle pump is the extended effort of the body’s blood being pumped and fully engorged to each muscle belly, the pump in simple terms is: actually your blood and the oxygen its carrying, rushing into the muscles and engorging them faster than your body’s circulatory system can remove it!

Coveted by weight trainers and bodybuilders alike, is the muscle pump. Hence:  the stronger the intensity toward the contraction the bigger and more intense will your muscle pump become. 

How Do You Achieve A Good Muscle Pump?

This is a great question, and deserves a good answer. Your muscle pump is generally produced in weight training from exercises performed strictly this anaerobic activity of aiming for approximately 8 to 10 repetitions, generally produces a good pump.

Even if you’re strong and well-conditioned using lighter weight and concentrating/focusing on each repetition and each contraction you’re making and make them as strong you can stand; upon the completion of each concentric part of each rep helps produce a stronger pump.

Isolation exercises do give a good pump, but I’ve personally found shorter rests and compound-based-movements often produce the best ones. This of course will vary from each person’s fitness and skill level physically.

Try not to get too hung up on the rep ranges, some seem to feel a good pump with as little as 5 to 7 reps while others need 10 to 15. The rep ranges are only a guide, nothing more.

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 Your Muscle Pump, Is It important?

The old adage, if you ask 10 guys you’ll probably get 10 different answers. I personally find that the pump and the achievement of it are generally limited to the extent of how you are training. And what your training goals are, whether there strength or physique based. 

Training for strength generally means you’re doing fewer repetitions perhaps 5 to 7 or less. Strength training-or working towards increasing strength is going to mean: less repetitions and heavier weights with a more progressive attitude towards each set you perform.

Increasing the pump

This I find does produce a strong pump, undoubtedly even if you train with lower reps you will still receive a pump. This is your body letting you know that you are pushing the muscle, which is a good thing-for sure. Again, your muscle pump depends on what your goals are.

As a beginner or intermediate, if the goal is strength related a greater pump will be received and achieved as intensity increases. Meaning: each time you learn to train passed yesterday's efforts, you will undoubtedly receive a greater pump, as greater and deeper muscle fiber recruitment is reached...

With regards to strength and muscle mass, this will be attained at a much higher level with this type of training, as compared to isolation exercises.

So if you’re asking where does this leave me on how important is the muscle pump?

To clear this up simply: compound exercises with a rep range of 8 to 10, do commonly produce a better pump. There is however; as with many things a slight curse can hide here; there is some falsehood in the pump itself.

Just because you've achieved a good pump; doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve recruited  enough motor units and stimulated enough muscle fiber to produce new growth...

If you’re only interested in having a good pump and this is what you train for, then great; the pump you’ve achieved from your training efforts is fine.

Just understand; that for strength and increasing your overall muscle mass, the pump is not always as important.

The pump you receive from progressively overloading, such as in strength training with lower rep values, the muscles in the bigger body parts such as back, legs and chest will not often contract enough to produce as strong a pump, as in higher rep training…

Strength training usually doesn't leave the muscles as hard feeling as a good 8 to 10 rep muscle pump, but this sensation with the rubbery feeling from fatigue of using heavyweights can also be highly addictive once you experience the sensation at an advanced level. 

As with regular pumping motions with reps performed somewhere between 9 and 12, produce a very good hemoglobin producing pump which makes the muscle feel and look very full. But..

Will not always express near the fatigue you'll feel from overloading the muscles like you would in strength training.

How Does The muscle Pump Feel?

Your muscle pump

Biologically within the muscles your training and stimulating as beginner's; can be a difficult time, as the your body's muscles and nervous system struggle from the new work load associated to early weight training conditioning.

So as you’re starting it is already taxing enough for your first few months, just to get through your workout routines. With that said though: as you become conditioned your body will be able to handle more and it won’t take long - and you to will be discovering how the muscle pump feels.

Arnie’s statement in pumping iron probably coins the phrase how the muscle pump actually feels,” it feels like someone’s pumping air into your arms”. This is a close description of how it actually does feel.

As your body becomes more oxygenated from the demands your putting on it anaerobically, it will now begin to work harder and breathe harder to produce more oxygen for the oxygen depleted muscles.

As this intensity of these contractions is repetitively and continuously inflicted in each muscle group, from your training-the adrenal glands begin to produce here also.

These glands are capable of releasing different chemicals. I won’t mention all of them, but they do release chemicals such as Epinephrine: people know epinephrine by its other name...

Adrenaline, hormones/testosterone in men and estrogen in women.

With the release of some of these hormones and other chemicals this can put the body in a fight or flight mode. The release of these chemicals, along with the highly oxygenated blood and muscle fibers, can trigger one more thing the release of endorphins…

Depending on the intensity of your pump this can produce an intoxicating sense of well-being/euphoria. This of course is all attached to the muscle pump itself.

The interesting and even cool thing about the muscle pump is:  this is one thing in life that is produced for free by our own bodies. It costs us nothing except a good diet and some vigorous weight training to produce this.

It has always seemed funny to me, what people pay and use, in regards to recreational drugs each day and yet; your body produces this naturally and you can have this every dayIf you wish!

    Going Beyond The Pump!

The first 3 to 5 sets on heavy training days when I’m performing 5 to7 repetitions for each set I do, I seem to experience the best pump. After these initial sets my muscles are now engorged with blood and oxygen, my pump usually will no longer increase quite as much from this point on.

As the intensity of each contraction in each repetition increases the pump will continue to increase but will not increase as much as the first 4 or 5 sets! The idea here is mentally staying very focused and very strict...

This is not easy mentally, as the harder you focus/stay strict and slow things down in your mind, the weight you’re using now begins to feel like it weighs twice as much.

By performing compound exercises and using heavier weight, the rep levels I’m speaking of here are only an example, but if my rep range is 5 to 7, this fiber recruitment differs greatly from 10 to 12 repetitions doing isolation exercises.

Once you begin to get to your sixth, seventh and eight set your muscles will not feel quite so pumped from this effort, but will more than likely begin to feel very rubbery.

If you’re training legs for example: from time to time when your standing, you may feel like your knees are going to buckle as the quads will actually feel like jelly.

Even though the muscles are hard and engorged from the blood pumped into them, they simply feel like you’re going to collapse. Not that the legs do, It’s just the sensation that goes with this type of training.

Once you have reached in excess of one year of hard consistent training, advanced athletes can enter a new arena of the pump, by learning how to go beyond the burn to ever-more increase your pumps intensity.

As beginners beyond the pump is probably looking a bit too far forward, but give it time. As you advance and work towards the intermediate level, you too can and will experience this.

Looking At Reasons For Not Getting A Good Pump?

Posing the pump

Try to understand as I mentioned here before a good pump is almost purely psychological, it is like walking in front of a mirror. If you feel that you look great in the mirror. Hence: you probably will feel great. The muscle pump has close to the same affect; many guys/gals attribute a great workout to a good pump. But…

If you’re not getting a great pump or even a good pump. This does not necessarily mean as mentioned before, you’re wasting your time or having a bad workout. Or some even assume there’s no growth producing affect without a good pump.

But this is not necessarily true either, the real growth and construction goes on when you’re sound asleep as I’m sure most of you already know.

If having a good muscle pump is Paramount to you psychologically and physically. Some of the things listed here could be causing it. Most of these are usually simple in nature to correct.

 Here is a list of common Reasons

Not concentrating and connecting to your muscle mentally with each rep and squeezing on each contraction.

  •   Over-training, not getting enough rest and sleep.
  •   Not concentrating and connecting to your muscle mentally with each         rep and squeezing on each contraction.
  •   Not producing enough repetitions 7 to 10
  •   Performing too many sets for your training level
  •  Lack of proper nutrition, keeping your body fueled throughout the day      with enough complex carbs ‘yams, sweet potatoes, oatmeal etc.’ and        enough protein to make this synthesis happen, is important toward    your muscle pump. Low or depleted glycogen stores will have a major  impact on your pump.
  • Resting to long between sets will also deplete the pump, keeping your     rest intervals shorter e.g., 30 to 45 seconds will help produce and keep   your pump strong. Experimenting with set increments like supersets and tri-sets because there’s little or no rest; with these types of sets, will also contribute greatly to your muscle pump.
  1.  Keeping interest in your training goes a long way towards the quality of    your muscle pump; lack of motivation depletes this immensely. If the        pump is Paramount to you:  Enter in your journal or diary about what  you ate that day, how much sleep you received, how you trained, in  what order, including rep and set intervals? Also, make note, were you positive how was your mood, etc. and reflect back on this.

Conclusion: pay close attention to what gives you the best pump, so you can retrace your steps to recreate this effect in your pump.

Don’t Be Discouraged By Your Muscle Pump!

Your muscle pump


From beginner to advanced - in the beginning the pump is very psychological, it is difficult to associate a good workout with a small or poor pump.

But you’re going to find if you make weight training part of your lifestyle, this will be common. There will be days you’ll come to your gym and your energy stores will feel low, and you’ll have a great workout and produce a great pump.

And of course, there would be other days even when I felt energetic, but nothing I could do no matter how many sets and shorter rests and volume I would work at, could I produce a good pump!

There will always be those days where the Mind says go, but the body says no! Try if you possibly can, to not let this affect you psychologically, as this is normal-all of us go through it.

Once again, I encourage you to try to experiment with your rep and set range even your rep speed and see what works best for you towards your muscle pump. Many different authors and weight trainers/bodybuilders have written a great deal on the subject.

But honestly at the end of each day you and you alone know your body the best. Weight training is highly mental, even somewhat superstitious beliefs can exist in our minds towards having a great workout and how you feel from it.

In regards to your muscle pump, train with this in mind: you ultimately are the leader of your direction and destination in your weight training.

Once you've advanced and your doing 8 to 10 sets on larger muscle groups and lower repetitions, e.g., 6 to 8 reps and find this is creating your best muscle pump Great. But as your body begins to change over time; don't be afraid to change with it!

Maybe you may find and feel your muscle pump is best achieved through higher repetitions and a few more sets, with shorter breaks concentrating and focusing on your efforts should work best for you. All the rest of the advice doesn’t matter, it’s just advice. When you find something that works, exploited it!

There’s no such thing as a wasted workout from a poor muscle pump, by simply arriving at the gym doors; you’ve already accomplished 70% of the effort towards your work-out that day.

Take the time to enjoy, take delight in and have fun with your workouts and every great pump you achieve, is your body's way of rewarding you for your efforts. DWT. wishes you the best with your muscle pump and I hope some of the content here was helpful.

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