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  • The ‘Pump’ - A Guide to Muscle Pump

If you're working hard in the gym and looking to maximise gains and build muscle, you've probably heard of muscle pump but you may not know what it involves, or how to get a good muscle pump. We're going to explore this so that you can get a better understanding.

What is a Muscle Pump?

A muscle pump (often referred to as “transient hypertrophy,”) is when your muscles swell up during your workout, which is caused by fluids, including water and blood, accumulating in the muscle and filling it up the same way you would fill up a water balloon. Your muscles get a very full, tight feeling and your skin becomes tighter because of this.

What Happens to Your Body When You Get a Muscle Pump?

As mentioned, fluids, including water and blood, accumulate in the muscle, and several changes happen in the body when muscle pump happens:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Temporary muscle swelling

This usually happens for a short period (usually a couple of hours after a workout) and eventually, the fluid dissipates and your muscles return to their normal size.

Is Muscle Pump a Good Thing?

Yes! It’s a sign you’ve had a good workout and that muscle growth is expected to follow.

Why is it Needed?

To achieve maximum muscular growth a pump (scientific name, hyperemia) is essential, and the only way this can be achieved is to train correctly with the right energy intake, to allow sufficient blood flow to the working muscles. Working muscles need blood to supply them with oxygen and nutrients, and remove waste products (namely, lactic acid and carbon dioxide).

When a muscle is trained, blood flow is diverted from many other bodily processes, to supply this muscle with what it needs to perform maximally. The blood first needs to become oxygenated (which is done through gaseous exchange in the alveoli of the lungs) before it is pumped to the working muscles, where it is pooled, thus resulting in the tight feeling we call the pump.

It is thought that during training, a muscle can receive up to four times the amount of blood it would ordinarily get. Why exactly do the muscles need all this blood? As mentioned, the muscles require sufficient oxygen and nutrients to continue the sustained contracting that results in a pump.

Is a Muscle Pump What Builds Muscle?

A muscle pump is a temporary increase in muscle size that occurs during and immediately after resistance training. While the muscle pump does not directly build permanent muscle mass, it can play a role in the muscle-building process.

Muscle growth will also result from the fascial stretching that occurs when the muscle is pumped beyond its normal size. When this fascial layer (which can be found between the is stretched, room for continued muscle growth is made available.

Over time, the pump will also create a greater number of capillaries (tiny blood vessels), which will, in turn, provide the muscles with more nutrients and oxygen and allow for larger pumps and more growth in the long term.

How Long Does a Muscle Pump Last?

A muscle pump usually lasts a few hours after workout – between two and three hours. This will vary from person to person, but for most people it will be a couple of hours.