You love the feeling when your body is about to blast while working out, don’t you? When your blood vessels have nearly reached their maximum capacity of pumping blood into your muscles; when your muscles are so hard and thickened that they are about to “jump” out of your skin every time you move; and you can’t believe your eyes when looking into the mirror: the physique staring back at you seems totally different. One workout has brought so much change. Sounds familiar?
Yes. That’s when you get pumped.
But pumping your muscles is more than a simple “optical tuning”. That is just an auxiliary benefit that enhances motivation and training experience. What are the further benefits of pumping your muscles, then?
As you might know (or you might have guessed), you have to feed your muscles during and after workout so that you can utilize their full performance and development potential. Post-workout nutrient supplement deserves another full article, so let me skip it for now. Maybe next time. Or, you can read our previous articles in this topic. But, if you want to be super-efficient and use your full potential, you should pay at least as much attention to pre-workout nutrients.
If you have ever had trouble developing the mind-muscle connection for certain muscles, or there are muscles you simply cannot “feel”, it is especially important for you to reach the pumped feeling in your muscles. Virtually everybody has an Achilles heel like this. And better pumping can actually help in these cases!
What is happening when your muscles are getting pumped?
The pumped feeling is a consequence or visible sign of the fact that more blood is circulating in the muscles as normally. Since intense training requires more oxygen and nutrients than rest, your system will pump more blood to where it is needed. This means, a larger amount of nutrients can reach the muscles in a relatively short time, provided that these nutrients are actually available. So, we can say that the more pumped you are feeling, the more oxygen and nutrients will reach the muscles (if you really supply your system with enough nutrients), and the better your training performance, your recovery and muscle gains will be.
Plus, extreme pumping may also stretch the fascia (this is a dense and fibrous type of connective tissue), which will provide more space for further growth. To achieve this, a special routine may be required to ensure maximum pumping. However, that alone may not be enough for success.
What will make you feel even MORE pumped?
Training is definitely the main stimulus that causes the pumped feeling. You will never feel pumped unless you work your muscles; not even with the best NO-booster! However, the extent of pumping can be enhanced a great deal. How? First, by training routines that have enough repetitions to ensure proper pumping. This means, powerlifting training methods of low rep counts are not suitable for this purpose.
Second, by supplements that help dilute blood vessels and enhance blood stream in the muscles.
I would not go into details about the training now. You could read about a high rep workout routine in a previous article of Weekly Builder. That routine is typically suitable for this purpose. Another method is FST-7, which is designed to achieve maximum pumping, thus stretching the fascia. But generally, any training plan will do, provided that the rep counts are not too low and the rest breaks are not too long. For weak body parts, you might even try extreme high reps (50-100) every now and then.
Many think it is enough to take some NO-booster, and that’s all. True. These products can be helpful at getting you the pumped feeling. Still this is not enough: pumping is worth nothing, if your system lacks nutrients! For this reason, you should be extra careful when selecting your pre-workout supplements.
Below you can read a rough overview of the active substances that do not only enhance pumping but supply your worn-out muscles with valuable nutrients as well. (Of course, some categories may overlap: for example, BCAAs are nutrients, but they may also be helpful at delaying fatigue etc.).
The alpha and the omega of these products is arginine. No wonder that it can be found in many forms in various supplements: arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate, arginine malate, arginine orotate, arginine-ketoisocaproate, arginine ethyl ester etc.; but each product contains L-arginine, and in most cases, in the largest amount. Arginine has several benefits. As a precursor of nitrous oxide, it helps dilate your blood vessels, which means, it enhances the pumped feeling in your muscles. But it has several further benefits as well. It enhances lean muscle building and fat burning by supporting growth hormone and insulin secretion. It also has an anti-catabolic effect: it prevents tissue breakdown and supports muscle recovery by breaking down by-products of protein metabolism.
Who said supplements are useless?!
Supply of nutrients
This aspect is overlooked by many. If you don’t provide enough nutrients for your system, you cannot utilize the full potential of pumping.
Creatine supplies the cells with energy on one hand, and hydrates them on the other hand. It draws water into the cells, and with water, nutrients can enter the muscles, too. This means, it can also be helpful at supplying you with the right nutrients. It can be found in several forms in various products.
The importance of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) cannot be overrated. There is no other amino acid which could aid protein synthesis (and thus muscle gains) better than leucine, a component of BCAAs. It plays an inevitable role in anabolic and anti-catabolic processes.
Glutamine is an amino acid which is present in your muscles in the highest proportion, but it has even more important properties as well: it boosts your immune system and—similarly to creatine—promotes hydration of the muscle cells, which can induce anabolic processes in the muscles.
Other essential amino acids (including BCAAs) are nutrients for the muscle cells, thus delaying fatigue and promoting growth.
If you have ever experienced lack of motivation or energy to go to the gym, you will like this. Caffeine is well known for its mental and physical stimulation effects. If taken before, workout, it improves performance, provides you more energy, helps your system utilize fats better, and improves mental focus as well (through various processes, but I don’t want to waste your time explaining them now). However, caffeine is not recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure or any cardiovascular disease.
Tyrosine his a strong mental stimulant, i.e. it improves mental performance. And this is essential for good mind-muscle connection!
As a component of many energy drinks, taurine is commonly mistaken for a stimulant, even though it has no cranking effect like caffeine. It rather helps you focus better. It also plays a role in increasing cell volume, even though to a lesser extent than glutamine or creatine, so you might not feel it.
Although proper nutrition supplementation alone can delay fatigue, there are some active substances that serve this specific purpose. Citrulline malate helps remove harmful by-products of metabolism that may have an adverse effect on performance. Plus, citrulline malate also has NO-boosting properties, jus like arginine.
Beta-alanine can also help you: it reduces the acidification of muscles, which can have a remarkable positive effect on your performance during workout. It restores the carnosine levels of muscles, which levels drop seriously during workout. And the result is: faster recovery between workouts (in strength training); a strong anti-acidification effect and a significant delay of muscle fatigue.
Carnitine is mostly known as a fat burner, but it also promotes recovery and delays fatigue, even though the latter effect is more remarkable in the case of aerobic exercise. It can be found in several forms in different products.
How you should take them
As you can see, there is a multitude of useful active substances to choose from. And the best time to take them is before workout, preferably at the same time. Doing so, you will make sure you get all the nutrients and active substances you need for workout to feel the pump and make the best of it.
The simplest solution is to choose a product which contains all of these active substances in sufficient amounts. Unfortunately, in the case of trendy “matrixes” or “proprietary blends” it is impossible to find out the exact amount of each active substance, which makes it more difficult to choose the right product. More is not necessarily better: some products might even contain 60 active substances, but it is no use if each of them is below a certain threshold that is required for reaching the desired effect. So, you should pick a product that presumably contains the most important active substances in the required amounts in a standard portion. For example, if one portion of a certain product equals 27 grams, 19 of which is made up by carbs, and the rest contains about 75 anabolic ingredients, that should be a red flag: how much of those 75 anabolic ingredients can 8 grams contain?
Remember: the ones listed above are the most important active substances. Anything else is just fancy. They can work well, but they are not essential for a good pre-workout formula.
Ask your question about this article here!
You can ask questions after registration and login!
Please log in!