By Ron Harris
Why would you want to get a pump every time you train? That’s like asking why anyone would want things like love, happiness, or success. When extra blood flows into your muscle tissue and becomes temporarily trapped, your muscles look bigger and fuller. Veins stand out as they strain against your skin to escape. A cornucopia of nutrients flood to your muscles, and you stretch the muscle fascia. For those and other reasons, making sure you get substantial pumps when you train is vital for making your muscles grow. Here are 7 ways to make sure you always get your pump on!
You know that muscles and blood are mostly water, so that means you must stay hydrated. You should be drinking plenty of water with and between all meals, and especially when you train. Often the reason a pump never happens is simply inadequate hydration.
The fuel for muscular contractions is glycogen, converted from glucose. You may notice you have serious issues getting a pump and look ‘flat’ within days of embarking on a low-carb diet. Have some starchy carbs like oats, rice, or potatoes in your pre-workout meal. If you’re having a shake before you train, bolster it with clean carbs from Parrillo’s Pro-Carb Powder™ or Energy Bars.
If you’re going to train with very heavy weights all the time that limit you to 6 reps or less, don’t expect to ever experience a real pump. Do at least a couple sets in the 12-range for upper body. For legs, you can really go bonkers on the reps – 20 at the minimum and at times as high as 50-100!
Drop sets and rest-pause
Two ways to get those higher reps without giving up heavier resistance are drop sets and rest-pause. If you can get 8-10 reps on a given exercise, do that and then reduce the weight to allow for 8-10 more. Rest pause is a similar technique, except rather than cutting the weight and going immediately, you use the same weight but rest for 10-20 seconds to recover so you can get more reps. Often the reps in a rest-pause set will look something like 8, 5, 2.
Supersets and giant sets
Performing two exercises back to back is a superset, and any more is considered a giant set. Both force the muscle to work longer and harder, drawing in more blood for a sick pump.
Shorter rest periods
One thing that will deliver better pumps as well as save you time in your workout is to shorten the rest periods between your sets. In other words, move faster! People who rest a lot to chat, mess around on their iPhone, or go get water when they should be carrying it in a bottle with them often ‘lose their pump’ multiple times in every workout, if they even got one in the first place. The very best way to apply this is Sevens – 7 sets of an exercise with only 30 seconds rest between.
Avoid excess caffeine
Finally, understand that while caffeine is a CNS stimulant and will enhance energy and endurance, it is also a vasoconstrictor that constricts all your arteries, veins, and capillaries. That means blow flow is impeded, and a pump will not be happening.
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