Does The Muscle Pump Really Build Muscle? | Should You Chase The Pump?

Updated: Nov 1, 2019

The Muscle Pump:

The famous muscle pump, a term used to describe the rapid influx of blood into a muscle during exercise.

It mostly occurs during high rep and set workouts and occurs to a lesser degree during heavy, lower-rep sets!

But does the pump really build muscle?

What is a Muscle Pump:

Because the skeletal muscle pump is still not a very well understood mechanism, we will look at the theory behind the muscle pump and why, or why it wont, aid in muscle growth.

The pump is the result of an influx of blood into a muscle under tension or strain, this is due to the veins carrying blood away from the muscle being compressed and reducing blood flow out of the muscle, it is what is responsible for that vascular and big look you get after a workout!

Blood contains the vital nutrients and hormones your muscles need and most importantly, blood contains oxygen! The more blood in a muscle, the better that muscle will perform!

This is why chasing the muscle pump, with high-rep sets and dynamic stretching, before you start your heavy or working sets, in theory, is a good way to reduce your injury risk, improve muscular performance and possibly increase muscle growth, just don't go overboard with it!

Muscle cells have a number of signals they respond to, and one of these is to reinforce their cellular walls when under strain, when you chase that muscle pump your muscle cells have increased uptake of plasma from the excess blood flow.

This results in swollen muscle cells, like an over-inflated balloon, which in theory, they respond to with increased protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth!

How to Get a Pump:

One way to get a muscle pump is to use high repetition sets, of an isolating exercise (such as dumbbell curls).

You can also use Eccentric Training to acquire this pump, along with dynamic stretching, however be careful to not go overboard chasing the pump prior to a workout, try and get just enough of a muscle pump to prevent injury but not to hinder your workout!

An example for a pump bicep workout prior to your actual bicep workout is:

  • 16 Reps of Barbell Curls, 2 Seconds Positive, 1 Second Pause and 3 Seconds Negative

  • Seated Incline Bench Dumbbell Hang Bicep Stretch

Muscle Pump Supplements:

Getting a pump can sometimes actually be difficult , one way to improve this is to use supplements that improve the muscle pump you may get.

Supplements such as L-Arginine, L-Citrulline and even Viagra and Cialis will improve the production of nitric oxide and therefore increase the pump you will get!

L-Arginine Causes Vasodilation in Humans
L-Citrulline Improved Blood Flow in Older Adults

Overall, i would personally suggest chasing the muscle pump, even if its not for the muscular hypertrophy benefits, but more for the risk of injury reducing, better satisfaction with your workouts and obviously its always a nice side effect to have improved muscle growth ;)

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