In the iconic film “Pumping Iron,” the great Arnold Schwarzenegger equates the sensation of creating a good muscle pump with that of experiencing orgasm. Now, while I am not sure I can quite get onboard entirely with that thought process, I definitely agree that filling the target muscle(s) with mass quantities of blood during a gut-busting workout is a very special feeling. It is like your physique is growing/improving right before your eyes, and the tighter your clothes start to fit; the greater the desire becomes to go to war with the iron! However, a skin-splitting pump is actually more than just a “wonderful sensation,” but also a good indication that you are well rested, properly nourished and adequately focused on your training. In addition, maximizing blood flow to the working muscles will assist in spurring on hypertrophy by feeding them with essential nutrients like amino acids, anabolic hormones, oxygen and more! Thus, achieving a crazy pump should be one of the goals you shoot for at each and every workout (along with progressive overload). So with that in mind, here are some of the best ways to PRIME and PRODUCE THE PUMP!
1. Make Sure you are Well Rested – I can tell you right now that if you are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night then both your muscles and central nervous system (CNS) are not adequately recovered. This lack of recovery will negatively affect your strength, stamina, energy levels, muscle firing capabilities and your PUMP. If you want to get that blood flowing then make sure you are sleeping a good 7-9 hours per night – especially on nights you will be training the following day!
2. Be Carb Conscious – What I mean here is…make sure you are taking in enough quality carbohydrates (oatmeal, rice, potatoes, Quinoa, whole grain bread, fruit, etc.) every day so that your muscles are full of glycogen (which is stored carbohydrate). Without adequate glycogen stores the muscles will also be low on water content and thus will not pump maximally. Make sure you load carbs back in after every workout as the body is most responsive to insulin at this time, which will push carbs directly into muscle cells.
3. Consume Nitric Oxide Boosting Supplements – Nitric Oxide or NO is a naturally produced molecule in our body that can help dilate blood vessels allowing more blood to freely pump throughout the body. Utilizing supplements that contain ingredients such as arginine, citrulline malate, agmatine, beetroot, betaine, grape skin extract, hawthorn, and others can boost levels of NO and thereby assist in creating a much more intense muscle pump.
4. Take Your Creatine – One of creatine’s effects is to supersaturate muscle cells with water, which not only helps increase anabolism, but will also allow for an enhanced pump when hitting the weights hard.
5. Rep Out – While it is important to utilize a wide variety of rep ranges in order to stimulate all muscle fibers and ignite the various anabolic pathways, when looking for a skin-tearing pump it is best to keep the reps in the 12-20 range for most sets. On occasion do not be afraid to explore some really high reps in the range of 40-50 per set. Just bring a bucket if you try it on squats or deadlifts!
6. Constant Tension is King – When your goal is to literally fill your muscles with blood – like water furiously pouring from a broken damn – then make sure to do your reps/sets in constant tension fashion. This means you should not fully lock out at the top, nor stop to relax when at full stretch. Keep the weight moving like a piston, up and down, but with controlled tempo and form.
Happy PUMPING iron brothers!7. Use Set Extending Techniques – For those who love to train at max intensity and achieve a pump/burn that can literally bring you to your knees, try an entire workout composed of supersets, tri-sets or giant sets, as well as some strip and rest/pause sets. This will greatly increase the muscles TUT (time under tension) and allow for the blood to continue filling the target muscle.
8. No Rest for the Wicked – At some workouts the goal is to lift heavy weight for low reps, which requires a good 2-4 minutes between sets (depending on the exercise).
However, when the main intent is a perpetual pump then try to take no longer than 45-90 seconds so that the blood has no choice but to remain in the muscle and continue to build as the workout progresses.
9. Stretching Strategy – Instead of just completely relaxing between each set, try stretching the target muscle hard, and hold for about 30 seconds. This will force even greater blood flow and thus encourage and even sicker pump!
-CEO B Built International www.b-built.net
-Natural Professional Bodybuilder/Judge/Advisory Board Member
-Columnist @ Iron Man/Planet Muscle/Natural Muscle/www.muscleandfitness.com
-Creator of the PRRS, FDFS and O-Bey-6 Training Systems