What is a pump? How do you get one? As you progress through your fitness journey and start to get more familiar with weight-training culture, these questions will inevitably cross your mind. Don’t worry, you’re not the first.
“Pump” refers to the swelling your muscles undergo during a workout. This swelling is the result of all the extra blood flowing to the hard-working tissues. A pumped upper arm could measure a full half inch bigger than normal!
A pump doesn’t only look good and feel good though, it’s actually good for you. The more blood that reaches your muscles, the more oxygen and nutrients they receive. This promotes muscle growth and helps prevents muscle breakdown.
How Do I Get a Pump?
There are several ways to prime your body for a good pump. The standard health advice obviously applies: get a good night’s rest, drink plenty of water, etc. but if you really want to take it up a notch, try one (or all) of these tips.
Eat Your Carbs – Your body converts carbohydrates to glucose and stores them as glycogen. The more glycogen you have in a muscle, the greater its cell volume will be. Eat a carb-heavy meal before your workout and as your body pulls the carbs into the muscle cell, it will also pull in water, which makes muscles look big and full.
Stay Lean – The less fat you have covering your muscles, the easier it will be to see changes during your workout.
Use Supersets – Stacking exercises back-to-back with no rest in between fatigues your muscles faster, forcing more blood to them.
Eat Foods with Electrolytes – Potassium and magnesium in particular are beneficial for a pump. Bananas, potatoes and OJ are great sources of potassium while legumes, seafood and peanuts are good sources of magnesium.
Spike Your Insulin – Eating a banana and drinking a sports drink 30 minutes before your workout will raise your insulin, which stimulates nitric oxide to increase blood flow and make glucose and potassium more readily available.
Take Your Creatine – We recommend taking a scoop of creatine before your workout and a scoop of creatine after your workout. Elevated creatine levels within skeletal muscle are a proven way to make them appear bigger as creatine helps shuttle water, oxygen and nutrients to the active tissues.
Go for Volume – Performing fewer reps with more weight is great for building strength, but if you’re chasing the pump, aim for three to four sets of 10-15 reps. Keep your tempo slow, your rest times short and really focus on the mind-muscle connection.
Supplement with NO-boosting Supps – Nitric oxide, or NO, is a molecule naturally produced in our body that can help relax blood vessels to allow more blood to pump freely throughout the body. Products like Pump HD™, with beetroot and citrulline, or Nitro HD™, with Nitrosigine®, are both good options.