Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about “the pump” in the 1977 classic Pumping Iron, dedicated gym goers having been trying to increase their own muscle pump in an effort to force stubborn body parts to grow.
There are a few simple lifting techniques and supplements you can use to take your pump to a whole new level.
Here are 6 ways to increase your muscle pump.
1. Minimize Rest Periods on Heavy Sets
It’s common knowledge you need to do 10 – 15 repetitions to get a great pump right? Wrong!
The idea you have to do such a specific rep range in order to force blood into your muscles is outdated “bro science”.
The truth is you can get a great pump with just 5 – 8 reps by keeping your rest periods to 30 – 60 seconds. This has the added benefit that you can go heavier allowing you to stress your muscles in the way only heavy weights can.
10 – 15 rep ranges still have their place but if that’s the only way you are going about it, you are simply going to plateau too early and stop growing.
Increase the weight and decrease the amount of reps and rest period to maximize your anabolic power and muscle pump. You can also use this technique with compound movements which are the best exercises to build muscle mass.
Make sure to lift with proper form throughout the exercise though.
This technique can quickly tire your muscles, cardiovascular system and central nervous system and you risk injury if you aren’t paying close attention to lifting with proper biomechanical form.
Check out my article on what science says the best set and rep range is to build muscle.
2. Mix In Drop Sets
Drop sets, for the purposes of maximum blood flow and pump, are where you start with a weight that you can typically do 10 – 15 reps of but instead of stopping after you can no longer do the exercise with proper form, you drop weight and keep going.
Example: You can do 12 reps with a straight bar curl at 75 pounds with proper form. After the 12th rep you would drop 5 – 10 pounds off the bar and immediately continue lifting until failure. Repeat this process until the weight is down to at least 50% of your starting point.
The lactic acid build up will be intense, the burn will hurt like hell and your mind will beg you to stop but push through the pain and keep going for the best pump of your life.
3. Eat a Simple Carb Heavy Meal Before Lifting
Loading up on simple carbohydrates like white bread or pasta may not be exactly “healthy” but if your goal is to maximize your muscle pump your muscles need fuel and that means you need to stock up on the glycogen.
When you eat carbohydrates your body converts it into a form of sugar called glucose which can be used for immediate energy.
As you will not be using much energy until you start lifting your body will convert the glucose into glycogen which is basically “on tap” energy stored in your muscles and liver.
You can also supplement with dextrose to give your body a huge energy boost and improve your performance in the gym.
Having a full supply of on demand energy is the best way to ensure you are able to power through the additional reps and sets you need to increase your muscle pump.
4. Take Nitric Oxide Boosting Supplements
There are a few supplements which have been proven in human case studies to either increase blood flow, improve athletic performance, hydration and pump.
This means you get a double benefit since you are directly increasing your blood flow while simultaneously helping your body push out extra reps by improving your performance which will increase muscle pump even more.
The supplements you need to be taking in order of effectiveness are:
5. Take Cell Volumizing Hydration Supplements
There are two supplements which pull water into your cells and hyper-hydrate your muscles which increases both volume and pump.
The two supplements you need to be taking are
6. Stay Away From Caffeinated Pre-Workout Drinks
There is nothing inherently wrong with caffeine in a pre-workout drink and some people like that surge of energy it provides going into a workout.
However, if your goal is to increase vascularity and muscle pump, caffeine is a killer!
Caffeine is a “vasoconstrictor” which means it narrows your blood vessels via contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels. The large arteries and small arterioles are particularly affected.
So consuming a pre-workout drink with caffeine will actually work to counteract any ingredients like L-Citrulline or Nitrosigine which are designed to increase “vasodilation” or widening of the arteries and increase blood flow.