Finding ways to naturally increase pump during workouts is what I like to think of as a short-term win. Psychologically, it’s a great morale-booster because the pump makes you look bigger, which helps to increase motivation. Gaining muscle isn’t easy and may take some time, which is why it’s important to use any tool possible to keep you on the right track.
In terms of building muscle, achieving a pump is quite important for muscle growth and is vastly under-appreciated. A pump is achieved by flooding a muscle (usually the muscle you’re working) with blood. Excess blood is sent to the area because it requires more oxygen when under stress. Blood also carries many other important nutrients.
You can do a number of things to get a pump. Making sure you’re slightly hyperhydrated (more hydrated than normal) will help, and making sure you eat some carbohydrates before your workout may also help. However, to get a freaky pump and really fill the muscles up, you may need to use supplements. Choosing the right one is critical, because many supplements claim to lead to a great pump but contain less-than-adequate doses or ingredients. Here are the top 4 in descending order:
L-Arginine is an amino acid (one of the building blocks of protein) and is great for creating massive pumps. It works by helping the body to release more nitric oxide (NO). When NO is released it causes the blood vessels to dilate (open up). You now have wider vessels for larger volumes of blood to flow through.
3. Beetroot juice
Beetroot juice (sometimes referred to as beet juice) is cropping up more often in the scientific literature due to its performance-enhancing ability. It releases nitrates into the body which can dilate the blood vessels in a similar way to L-Arginine. The evidence also suggests that beetroot juice could lead to significant decreases in blood pressure. These nitrates are also found in many vegetables.
Discover more nitric oxide foods here >>
2. Nitric oxide
This is the most bioavailable form of NO. Unlike beetroot juice and L-Arginine, NO is already broken down into its simplest form. It’s usually available as a powder or a pill, so it’s pretty easy to take. Taking this about 30 minutes prior to working out will lead to insane pumps!
1. NO2 Max
No2Max is first for a reason. It contains a successful blend of L-Arginine and calcium. Calcium isn’t directly responsible for muscle pumps, but it’s very, very important for good muscular contractions. When the brain triggers a muscular contraction, the muscle draws calcium from circulating blood. Calcium then binds with troponin (a type of protein in muscle) and pulls it out of the way. This means that tropomyosin follows, as they’re joined. This allow actin and myosin (again, proteins in the muscles) to connect. It is this connection that creates muscular contractions. Better muscular contraction due to calcium and better pump from L-Arginine lead to a much fuller muscle.
On a final note, always remember to follow dosage recommendations. If you take too much of these supplements, you’ll probably burst!
Okay, I’m joking, but you will feel light headed or ill during your workout and it’ll be game over for that day. Nobody wants to waste a workout opportunity! From a training perspective – and to save a bit of cash – I recommend that you use these supplements on flagging muscles and leave them out of your sessions when you’re working your stronger body parts.