The Mythical, Mystical Pump
The "pump"… You remember the reverence with which Arnold spoke about it in the iconic bodybuilding film, “Pumping Iron”… He wasn't bullshitting. There are very few sensations in the world as gratifying and pleasurable. Dare I say being pumped in the gym is the best you can possibly feel while actually clothed?
Yeah, the mystical pump is like nothing else in the world. You feel bigger... You are bigger. But make no mistake about it... The pump isn't about ego. It isn't purely a physical sensation. I'm gonna say this one and only once -- the pump is an absolutely critical piece of the growth puzzle for the bodybuilder. As such, the pump is something you should try to achieve in every single workout. No, not so that you feel good and feel bigger, but because the pump is important for building new mass.
The pump is a good indicator of several key factors. It is a status check for all things pertinent to the process of muscle building. The quality of your pump in the gym is directly related to the intensity and productivity of your training and the thorough and satisfactory nature of your diet and supplementation. More importantly, your pump is indicative of the state of the internal anabolic environment… It is a chance to gauge what's going on inside by how you look and feel on the outside.
During intense exercise, and when under direct strain, blood, oxyggen, and fluid rush to the working muscle. How much? Some champions will tell you that a pump can add an inch or more to their guns. How would you like going from 20” to 21”? In this engorged state, the muscles are flushed with a cascade of whatever nutritional elements are in a bodybuilder's system. And what happens when you feed something with muscle-building nutrients?
The pump provides the perfect opportunity to feed the muscles exaggerated amounts of anabolic nutrients. The more of these vital macronutrients and growth factors coursing through your blood stream, the better the pump... And the better the pump, the more dramatic the resulting growth. The challenge, though, isn't merely to achieve the pump but to hold and sustain it as long as humanly possible. That is why you should always go out of your way to “prime” the pump.
One critical component to creating the intense, enduring pump is hydration. Consuming ample fluids within the aforementioned window is an absolute must. For this purpose, carb and energy drinks as well as typical sports drinks all have their place, but nothing is more important than that good old H2O. Water hydrates your working cells and facilitates the breakdown and transport of your supplements through the bloodstream. Without adequate amounts of water, you might as well pack it up and head on home.
Another important factor is nutrition, especially around the training session. Pre-workout nutrition can impact the pump as well as help enhance gains in general. The pre-, intra- and postworkout “window” of opportunity is so often the separating factor between those bodybuilders that are constantly making gains and those that simply spin their wheels, failing to progress in any substantial fashion.
Supplementation can also readily impact the quality, quantity and duration of the pump. A good, focused pre-workout supplement would allow you to mix a good amount of water, have pro cell-volumizing compounds, possibly some creatine, and some key nutrients like electrolytes, BCAAs, antioxidants, and performance enhancers.
Finally, on top of all of this, is your workout style and philosophy and how the kind of training you partake in effects the pump. The pump is best created by achieving a happy medium of moderate reps and reasonably heavy weights-suitable to stimulate the ideal amount of muscular damage and maximize intracellular blood volume.
Powerlifting techniques involving heavy singles and five minute rest periods between sets, while they have their place from time to time, are not the best for facilitating a mind-numbing pump. At the same time, however, being “a pumper” and repping away on baby weights is also no way to get big. Find that groove, train hard and heavy and train to the point where the pump is at its peak, not beyond that point. That is the key.
The pump. There is nothing better; no sensation quite like it in the world. Arnold was onto something. It was true then and it’s still true now. Between his two favorite activities, he was living it up, not to mention what his daily quest for the pump did for his otherworldly physique. Eat like a man, plan your supplementation meticulously, train smart and you'll have a champion-like physique. Get your girl to go along and you'll be a happy one too.