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The Muscle Pump: Why Your Muscles Look Bigger During Exercise


Learn what “Track the Pump” means.

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The muscle Pump is such a cool thing: your muscles are literally growing in front of your eyes! Most fitness enthusiasts spend at least some time chasing the pump, regardless of what their overall goal is. This instant muscle growth just makes you feel strong, accomplished, and, to be completely honest, super sexy.

But what exactly is going on when you get a muscle pump? How is it possible that your Muscles grow so much in just an hour and the next morning are you back to normal? I’ll answer these and other questions in this no-nonsense guide to muscle pumps – including whether or not the muscle pump is actually there helps you build muscle.

Continue reading: How to lose fat while building muscle at the same time

What is a muscle pump?

Depiction of a flexed biceps muscle

A muscle pump is created when your muscles seem to grow in front of your eyes.

Malte Mueller / Getty Images.

“Muscle Pump” is actually just fitness slang for a phenomenon called temporary hypertrophy. Hypertrophy refers to the growth of a muscle and temporary means that it is only temporary. Temporary hypertrophy, or the coveted muscle pump, is quite a complex physiological process, so I’ll spare you the jargon.

In short, a muscle pump occurs when fluids, including water and blood, build up in your muscles while you are moving. It does this in response to two main triggers:

  • Lactic acid begins to build up in your working muscles and draws water into them.
  • Your heart pumps more blood to your working muscles because they need more oxygen and nutrients to keep them running.

This gush of fluid causes your muscle cells to swell and your muscles to look larger than usual. When you get a muscle pump, your muscles might be “full” in a sense.

Continue reading: Cardio Before or After Weightlifting? Which is better for muscle growth?

How do you get a muscle pump?

A young man doing bicep curls in the gym.

Lifting weights is the best way to get a muscle pump.

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Most people get a muscle pump from lift weights – In fact, before going on stage in a bodybuilding competition, bodybuilders use this temporary hypertrophy phenomenon to make their muscles seem bigger than they really are.

You could, in theory, get a muscle pump to do anything that increases blood flow to your muscles, but research (and anecdotes from any die-hard lifter) suggests that high-volume weight training is the best way to get a muscle pump.

High volume strength training involves high reps and high sets, typically with shorter rest periods. You can achieve extensive training by editing a few variables:

  • You can do more repetitions
  • You can do more sets (five sets of 10s instead of your usual three sets of 10s)
  • You can shorten your rest interval (60 seconds off your usual two-minute break).

In general, the more contractions your muscles make, the more fluid your muscles use. Serious bodybuilders and weight lifters can even follow “pump training” protocols, with the main goal being to achieve a muscle pump. Pump training focuses solely on muscle contraction and increasing blood flow to working muscles.

If you are really serious about maximizing your muscle pump, make sure you moisturize before your workout to help your muscles absorb water. There is limited evidence that eating carbohydrates and supplementing with creatine before a workout can also increase muscle pumps.

Citrulline Malate is another supplement that could help – citrulline malate increases nitric oxide production, and nitric oxide expands your blood vessels, thereby promoting blood circulation.

Does a muscle pump help you build muscle?

A young woman preparing to deadlift in a gym.

Don’t chase the pump as your primary method of building muscle.

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Yes and no. In the fitness industry, the muscle pump is one of the controversial things that some professionals swear by and that other professionals make fun of.

There’s not much research specifically on the muscle pump and its contribution to muscle growth, but there is one important correlation we can make: muscle pumps arise in response to high-volume exercise, and research shows that high-volume exercise does the Is key to building muscle. especially with people who have experience with strength training.

However, you cannot ignore the evidence that low strength training with higher loads also contributes to muscle growth, nor the fact that volume loses its effectiveness as you progress further.

In my professional opinion, the best approach to optimal strength and muscle growth is to follow a balanced exercise regimen that includes both low and high volume days, or change the volume of exercise weekly.

For example, if I were trying to build strength and muscle mass in my legs, I might get into the following squat plan:

  • Week one: two squats a week, five sets of five reps
  • Week two: two squats per week, four sets of eight repetitions each
  • Week three: three squat days per week, three sets of 10 reps
  • Week four: three squats per week, two sets of 15 reps

Continue reading: How lifting weights speeds up your metabolism and helps you lose weight

Don’t go down if you can’t get a pump

Getting a muscle pump is certainly fun, but it shouldn’t be your only fitness goal.

Don’t feel bad if you ran out of muscle the last time you lifted weights – the muscle pump is temporary anyway, and long-term muscle growth relies on consistent exertion, not just vigorous exercise.

My best advice: Forget about the hunt aesthetics. chase Strength and health and Muscle definition will follow.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions about a disease or health goals.

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