It sure does look good! Feels good, too.
But is a muscular “pump” just a cosmetic bonus, or can it actually contribute to the growth process?
The answer may surprise you…
Do You Need To Get A Pump?
The answer is yes and no. You can certainly get a pump and not have stimulated any growth e.g. cycling, swimming etc. However, if you have your other factors nailed down, then yes a muscular pump can contribute to muscle growth stimulation.
Here’s the reason: Muscle growth is a defense mechanism. If the body isn’t perceiving a thread coming from the environment, it isn’t going to add any new muscle. The way to do this is heavy resistance training. This is where factors like:
- The correct rep range
- The correct cadence of lifting and lowering
- Slower, more controlled negatives.
- Creating muscle damage
- Creating metabolic stress
…come into play. This is how you create that threatening environment.
Therefore low rep range workouts like 5×5 or 3×3 are examples of terrible workouts when hypertrophy is the goal (I’m constantly receiving emails from guys saying how they tried 5×5 and didn’t put on any size.)
Now, in addition to the above, one other “threatening” factor is the pump itself. The pump occurs when liquid rushes into the muscle cells in order to transport fuel and oxygen.
Muscle cells SWELL in size, which is seen by the body as a THREAT i.e. a threat to the actual integrity of the cell. So to compensate, the body increases protein synthesis levels (muscle growth). Here’s a short video of me explaining this fact…
Guys and girls can meet all the above criteria, including getting a pump, best with an 8-12 rep-per-set protocol. Of course, this is the very basis of THT training and explains why it works so damn well. Get THT training here…
Your take home message: If you’ve all your other factors in check, the pump can and should be taken as 1 sign out of many that the workout was effective in terms of stimulating growth. If you haven’t got the other factors correct, all the pumping in the world isn’t going to achieve anything.
Plus…enjoy that 15 minutes or so of pumped up awesomeness 😀
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Hey Mark. Thanks for the great post. So are you saying we shouldn’t train for the purpose of getting a pump but that we should still have a pump by the time the workout is over? Thanks.
@Francis. Yes. Let me put it this way…
You train for the SOLE PURPOSE of getting a pump. Nevertheless, you should definitely HAVE a pump by the end of the workout.
THT training will meet all of the above criteria in terms of reps, sets, muscle damage, and so on. In so doing, you will most definitely be pumped by the end of the workout, and as stated above, that pump will actually contribute to a degree to the muscle growth stimulation process.
The pump is not always achieved during a workout so training to failure is always a good goal to aim for
Hi mark so a good rep range is 8 to get big? 3 sets of whatever exercise you are doing? Love getting a pump also haha, thanks
@Nick. 8-12 reps is the best rep range for size. The amount of sets depends on how often per week you are training that body part. It sounds like you haven’t got THT training, download it and read. It’ll take 5-10 mins to learn how to train correctly for size.
When I train ( I am on tspa) I ,sonetimes I notice near the end of my session I start to soften slightly and the pump look can fade….so this means glycogen levels have dropped…Im sure many others have experienced this as well..But after my main meal I can see a change and the pump returns..I found if I eat around 20 grams of carbs 1 hr before training then I have just enough fuel and the pump stays all the session.
Mark love the articles and appreciate the time and effort you put into to them. One question you say 8-12 rep range is the best for Hypertrophy, but your Advanced THT contradicts this?
I love the THT and have gotten great gains so thank you very much.
As a rugby player however I do have to so some strength training and I was wondering if you had any specific strength/power workouts ?
@Chris. Advanced THT in the Jacked N Ripped program doesn’t contradict this. In THT training, there are 2 rep ranges, 8-12 and 6-8 (4-6 reps per set for deadlifts). In advanced THT, this is still the case for the most part i.e. most sets are no lower than 6, and no higher than 12. There are a few exceptions here and there (especially with exercises with a smaller range of motion) but for the most part it’s between 6 and 12 reps.
@Dominic. The ironic thing is that people who switch to THT from a so-called strength training program report to me that they make better strength gains on my program.
But there are 2 rep ranges in THT, the 6-8 reps to failure range being more focused on increasing strength. I would recommend starting with the THT 3 day plan in the 6-8 rep range for your rugby. Download THT above for all the details if you haven’t already.
What about pre-workout drinks that increase your pump? Is there any value to that? (Other than looking great in the mirror for 15 minutes after).
when i workout sometime i end up droping weight to meet the rep range of 8 and 12 will i still get gains like that..i do alot of rest pause to so i was just wondering…
@Jesse. Yes that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. Drop weight when necessary to stay in the rep range.
But for me to get gains aren’t i suppose to go up in weight …say i hit a set then i hit another…then its ok for me to drop weight to stay in rep rage and get gains at the same time..it seems like theres no prpgresstion overload…is that right r wrong..thanks
Mark I have been reading a lot of Arnold Schwarzenegger material lately and he recommends upper body 8 to 12 reps but states the legs, in general, grow quite well on high rep schemes (10-15+ reps) any thoughts.
hi Mark, nice article as always.
i have a question that is not relevant to the subject of that post but i am desperate for an answer.
maybe you know that Ramadan is near, is that Arabic and Muslim month of the year which all Muslims must fast every day for the whole month from dawn to sunset, and that fasting mean no food and no water or drinks until sunset, so is a critical time and an interesting subject for the Muslim bodybuilder, should we treat it as we do with the intermittent fasting we all read about in terms of training (weight lifting and cardio), nutrition and supplementation? or is another matter because no water or supplements are allowed?
i would like to read an article about it here, trust me all Muslims around the world wonders the same questions and i don’t see any capable trainer or nutritionist like you write about it for what concern a bodybuilder or any one that is interested in being healthy, that said my main question if all that need an article of it own, is it fine to continue supplementing with creatine the whole month, considering that water is allowed only from sundown to dawn (about 8 hours), thank you for your articles and contributions in this field.
@Ian Riches. They *may* do. See my article on how to make your own pre-workout dirt cheap here https://musclehack.com/cheapest-no-xplode-ever-how-to-make-your-own/
@Jesse. Sounds like you haven’t read THT, it’s all explained clearly in the book. Your strength will inevitably DECREASE between sets. Progressive overload is that you’re adding weight between workouts, not between sets. Every time you can get 12 reps in any set, you make a note to increase the weight on THAT SET during your next workout.
@stickupkid. I’ve given the reasons with research for 8-12. What are the reasons Arnold gives? You could certainly try it. As long as you’re reaching positive failure between 12 and 15 reps in that case.
@Younes. All you can do is get your calorie and protein requirements at the time when you can eat, yes like IF. And supplementing with creatine is going to be fine as well.