You all know the line from our industry’s iconic movie that describes the feeling of the pump. For many, it is the best feeling ever and something that is chased each and every workout. Moving massive amounts of weight and isolating muscle groups to encourage growth is one thing; achieving the pump however, is what bodybuilding is all about. To maximize your efforts in the gym, you need to maximize your ability to force as much blood into the working muscle as possible and here’s how you do so.
Strategy #1: Slam Some Water
Right before you go to the gym, drink about a litre of water as quickly as you can. The swelling effect this seems to have on the muscle cells (due to the hydration benefits) really helps with achieving a pump early on in the workout. You all should know that a properly hydrated muscle is a healthier muscle and often times many of us walk around a little bit dehydrated; especially if we aren’t paying attention to our consumption. In any event, I’m sure there’s a lot more science behind this strategy but take my word for it, this works and works very well.
Strategy #2: Incorporate Pump Enhancing Supplements
The pre-workout and intra-workout market for supplements has been exploding over the last few years and there’s a good reason for it. People are realizing that by utilizing these products not only can they increase their energy for the workout but they can also capitalize on the ingredients contained in these supplements and significantly increase their pumps. Products that boost nitric oxide levels in the body is what you’re looking for along with lactic acid buffers so that you can get a few more reps in each set. Look for ingredients such as agmatine sulfate, citrulline malate, l-arginine and beta alanine when deciding upon which product to purchase.
Strategy #3: Carb Up
Ask any dieting bodybuilder how their pumps are when getting ready for a competition and the answer you’ll receive is a resounding “terrible”. In many cases, the pump is nil and there’s a really good reason for this; very little to no carbohydrate intake. When you decrease or eliminate the body’s favorite source for fuel and energy, it becomes extremely difficult to feel what many describe as ‘full’. Instead of relying upon the carbs you are consuming to give you energy, you are relying upon stored body fat to provide it for you which is great for dieting purposes but terrible for achieving max pumps. So, unless you’re dieting for a show, eat your carbs all throughout the day, every day and have just a little bit extra right before your workout. You’ll have plenty of energy on tap for immediate needs and lots stored in the liver to provide back up for those intense training sessions. Along with this, keep the water flowing to make sure the body can properly shuttle nutrients into the muscle to push the muscles out hard against your skin giving you that inflated look of a great pump.
Strategy #4: Utilize Occlusion Training
Now before I get started, I know there is a tremendous amount of controversy that surrounds this training technique but for the purposes of this article, I think it fits. Occlusion training is the act of restricting blood flow (not completely) by using a type of tourniquet around the top of a working muscle to restrict venous blood flow return. When doing so, blood is continuously pumped to the working muscle through the arteries but isn’t allowed to flow back to the heart like it normally would. What this does is create a tremendous amount of blood to be kept in the working muscle therefore increasing overall blood volume, which subsequently increases your pump. I have tried Occlusion Training many times myself (mostly for arms) and I can say without a doubt it certainly enhanced the pump but it was a different type of feeling than what I would usually feel. My advice would be to do your own research on this topic if you decide to incorporate this in your max pump quest.
Last but certainly not least, being able to properly train the muscles being targeted is your best bet at maximizing your pump. If you’re not feeling the muscle work the way it should, from its lengthened position to its contracted position, then all will be for not. A great pair of training shoes can do this for you, especially for those of you out there struggling to bring up your lower body. If your focus is constantly on maintaining proper balance and not on the muscles being worked, then you’ll never get a pump. Try Heyday Footwear’s new Tactical Trainer version 2.0. It’s flat sole, high top and durable construction meets all of the requirements for proper stability. You can also customize them for yourself with the patch feature located on the side of the shoe. And if that doesn’t pump you up, I don’t know what will.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.