Muscle pumps are one the best parts about training in a gym, Arnold Schwarzenegger likened the pump to sex. While we wouldn’t go that far, it is definitely a great feeling. This article is going to walk you through the eight best ways to maximize your muscle pump.
1. Focus on Form – How you perform an exercise is very important, not only can good form give you better results and lower injuries, but it can also lead to a better muscle pump.
Contract the muscle slowly and squeeze it hard before slowly releasing the contraction and allowing the eccentric part of the movement to occur. This will promote that intense pump you’re looking for.
2. Hydration – You should be staying hydrated while exercising anyway, and you should be drinking a lot of water throughout the day. It has many benefits, but one of them is an increased muscle pump, due to greater blood volume. Carrying a water bottle with you, or intra-workout (more on that later) is a really good idea.
3. Train to Failure – This technique is one that should be used strategically, rather than following it for each exercise. Training to failure leads to huge muscle pumps as the maximum amount of blood is pumped into the muscles to help supply them while training.
To reach failure there are a few training techniques that you can use. For starters, there are always supersets. This is where you stop one set of one exercise and immediately jump into a set of a different exercise (10 reps of bench press immediately followed by 10 reps of bent over row). Other methods include drop sets and back off sets.
4. Consume Nitric Oxide Boosting Supplements – Nitric oxide is a chemical compound that widens blood vessels and therefore increases muscle pumps. Supplements that contain nitric oxide can therefore lead to maximal muscle pumps. Look for supplements that contain Citrulline, Betaine, Hydromax Glycerol, or Nitrosigne.
5. Take Carbs Pre Workout – If you’re serious about training hard and building muscle then you should be taking carbs pre workout anyway as a source of fuel. But, it is really good for muscle pumps.
This is because carbs are made up of glycogen which floods into muscles during a workout, when this happens the glycogen also draws water into the muscle cells, leading to larger looking muscles.
6. Increase Intensity – Strength training and hypertrophy training are all about getting your intensity right. If you are looking to lift the most weight then you need adequate recovery time between sets.
Studies have shown that the optimal rest period for both strength training and hypertrophy is 3 minutes . But for the ultimate muscle pump? You need more intensity, and less rest. So cut that between-set rest period down to just 45-60 seconds.
7. Use an Intra-Workout Supplement – Not only will an intra-workout supplement hydrate you during your workout, but they can often contain ingredients (such as Citrulline, and Betaine) that can improve your muscle pump.
8. Try Blood Flow Restriction – This method used to be thought of as a dangerous, and ineffective way to train. But both scientific and anecdotal evidence point to the fact that blood flow restriction can lead to huge muscle pumps.
You can use well-designed cuffs to achieve these results, rather than creating a tourniquet like bodybuilders used to do in the 90s!
There you have it, eight exciting techniques to massively upgrade your muscle pump. Give a couple a try next time you’re in the gym. After seeing how good the results are you can add the remaining six!
References Schoenfeld, B., Pope, Z., Benik, F., Hester, G., Sellers, J., Nooner, J., Just, B. 2015. Longer inter-set rest periods enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 30(7): 1805-12
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