I'm still yet to meet someone who doesn't love getting a pump when they train. Whether it's bulging biceps after a killer arms workout, or inflated glutes after a heavy lower body day, a good pump can make even a novice trainer feel superhuman. Oh, and it makes for a great post workout selfie, if that's your thing.
There's more to a good 'pump' than just vanity, though. A pump shows that your body is in a state of readiness to train, and that your muscles are being filled with nutrient rich blood ready to kickstart the recovery process. Chasing a 'pump' at the end of a workout may actually fast track your gains.
But what about those days where you just can't get a pump, no matter how hard you try? It's not the end of the world, but it's a sign that something's off. Chances are, your sleep, nutrition, hydration and supplementation need some close observation.
If you're struggling to get a pump when you train, check out the advice below. Here's everything you need to get the best pump of your life!
The most important rule for getting a pump is to stay hydrated. More water equals greater blood volume and blood flow, both of which are key to creating a mind blowing pump. Aim for 3 to 4 litres of clean, fresh water on any given day, and drink an extra glass prior to training to make sure you are fully hydrated before you hit the gym.
The best analogy when it comes to hydration and the pump is to picture a piece of dried fruit - a prune, for instance. Notice how shrivelled and lifeless it looks? Now compare this to a fresh plum, looking like it's about to burst with juice. Your muscles are exactly the same as this piece of fruit. Remove the water, and they shrivel up to nothingness.
Don't skimp on the salt
Sodium pulls water molecules into the cells, causing them to expand. It is also key for driving muscular contractions, and forcing water into the muscle cells when they are under tension. Time your sodium intake correctly, and you can use all this to your advantage.
We recommend a ¼ teaspoon of high quality Himalayan salt with your pre workout meal (2 - 3 hours before training) and an extra pinch in your water bottle to sip whilst you train.
To maximise your pump, you need your muscles to be full of glycogen when you train. Not only does glycogen provide a source of energy for your workout, but it also is key for helping your muscles appear bigger and fuller. It's the reason that people on low carb diets generally have that smoother, 'softer' appearance to their physique.
So keep the carbs high to increase your pump, and sneak in an extra serving before training. Fast acting carbs such as rice, oats, and fruit are great choices in your pre workout meal.
Slow the tempo and increase tension
The basic training formula for a mind blowing pump is to use slower tempo and more time under tension. So don't go too heavy: focus on slow eccentrics, and stay in the 12 - 20 rep range. Depending on the exercise and muscle group, you want anywhere between 45 - 90 seconds of time under tension per set to generate best results.
Take a set of bicep curls for example. Instead of pumping your arms as fast as you can, drop the weight by 30 - 50%. Take 3 seconds on the eccentric, and 3 seconds on the concentric, and complete a set of 12 reps. A preacher curl on an incline bench is a great exercise for this kind of training. You'll be amazed at how much your muscles blow up just from a few sets of these.
This kind of training can be transferred to almost any exercise: squats, dumbbell chest press, cable rows, tricep extensions, hamstring curls, you name it. Slow down the tempo and maximise that pump.
If you're training for strength or performance but still want to get a pump, put your high tension movements at the end of your workout. This way you won't fatigue your muscles before your bigger lifts, and you'll still get all the benefits of the increased time under tension.
Decrease rest periods
The shorter your rest periods, the more blood is pumping through your veins and into the working muscle tissue. So keep your heart rate elevated by resting no more than 30 - 60 seconds between sets. Utilise supersets and drop sets to really get the blood pumping.
Sleep is crucial for your muscle recovery, and if you're not recovering properly, you'll never get a proper pump. Excess cortisol production also reduces your ability to get a pump - and given that sleep inhibits cortisol release, you'd be wise to stock up on your Z's every night. Aim for 7 - 8 hours shut eye each night for best results.
Once all the above factors are in order, use the amino acid L-Carnitine (found in both Hades and Hella) to take your pumps to the next level!
The reason L-Carnitine is so effective for getting a pump is because it protects our body's natural nitric oxide production, which relaxes our blood vessels and increases blood flow to the working muscles. Even better: researches at the University of Connecticut found that L-carnitine increases the number of testosterone receptors inside the muscle cells. More testosterone and greater blood flow is a winner for your pump and your overall gains!
Ready to get the pump of your life? Follow all the above tips and blow up like a balloon!
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