The Pump Effect

muscle pump

What Is The Pump?

The pump is a short-term sensation many bodybuilders feel during workouts when their muscle fills with blood faster than the blood can leave the muscles; the muscle will appear fuller and larger as a result of an increase in muscle vascularity.

The pump (hyperemia) stems from a higher volume of blood flowing to the working muscles, this means greater oxygen and nutrients delivered to your target muscles. The tissue surrounding your muscles, known as the fascia will experience more stretch as a result when there is a greater flow of blood to the muscle in that region. This pump-effect ultimately can lead to increase gains.


Why Is Muscle Pump Important?

For any bodybuilder and athletes looking to develop their physique, the pump is of importance and you should look to obtain it within your workouts. For strength athletes, however, the pump is less important, it tends to be a by-product of certain exercises and methods rather than something directly sought after.


Pump workouts commonly involve a medium (8-12) or higher repetition (13-20+), supersets, giant sets, lower rest periods, and other methods to increase the blood flow to the muscle.


What Can Be Done To Increase Muscle Pump:

  • Proper hydration
  • Sufficient carb intake for glycogen stores (muscle fullness)
  • Squeeze and hold reps
  • Superset
  • Drop set
  • Shorter rest periods
  • Slow down tempo (Increase Time Under Tension)
  • Negative reps
  • Forced reps
  • Partial reps


How Much Does Muscle Pump Contribute To Muscle Growth?

The pump does nothing to increase myofibrillar hypertrophy, which is the fiber growth responsible for about 75% of muscle size.


What may be more critical to bodybuilders for muscle growth and strength is progressive overload. Progressive overload is the aim of steady, increment of weight that is lifted during a set routine. You have to remember, you can get a pump by doing a whole load of press-ups, but this doesn’t mean that you will get any significant increase in muscle size over time.


Our Thoughts On The Pump Effect

To finish the pump is crucial to bodybuilding, as it may mean you are completing a routine with a full range of motion, and with a weight that won’t likely cause serious injury. It may mean that you are focusing the contraction a lot more as well, squeezing the area targeted; this pump could show that you are targeting the muscle that you intend as you can see the ‘swelling’ of the muscles.


However, we recommend that you still follow a progressive overload workout throughout the majority of your training sessions, as it is still key to building size. Focusing on the pump will confirm that you are controlling your movements a lot more and isolating the muscle more. So we suggest that you mix up heavier lifts with higher rep routines for a more effective, well-rounded workout that will cause the most stimulation towards your muscles, and ultimately maximise muscle growth.