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If you are a natural bodybuilder, ‘chasing the pump’ does not necessarily reflect your progress. It is better to focus on other factors; measurable factors. So often we hear people in the gym saying, “this exercise is good, it gives you good sensation and a good pump. It’s about shocking the muscle.”
Well, today, we’re giving our opinion on “chasing the pump”... and why you should not fixate on your pump for muscle growth! If you are stagnating in your journey, this might be one of the reasons why. Make sure you read through!
1- What does the pump mean? Is the pump important for muscle growth?
If you have worked out before and felt like superman for an hour and wished this never stopped… You had a good pump! The pump is this feeling of your muscles swelling up and becoming full of blood while working out. The blood flow isn’t circulating as smoothly when exercising a muscle and as a result it gets fuller.
It is undeniable that the pump can help muscle growth, it’s a metabolic stress that may increase your protein synthesis in the working muscle. But if you look at how important this is compared to other factors, this is like comparing fireworks to nuclear bombs. This is why the “chasing the pump”, advice that we often see by influencers in the fitness industry simply isn’t the best of all.
2- Progression must be measurable
Don’t get us wrong, the pump is a great feeling. Just probably not as far as Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say in pumping iron: “it’s like cumming”. You should be pumped as a result of your training session, but it certainly does not prove a successful workout and running towards muscle growth.
Your progress could be virtually non-existent despite going to the gym consistently and getting pumped each time you work out. The main factor that can truly reflect your success in the gym is a progression as it is measurable. We also talk about how to measure your progression in the article “Stick to your bodybuilding routine to avoid stagnation! Here’s why”. Have a read!
You can’t measure progression through the pump
Pump is simply a blood overflow in the muscles you are targeting. It’s hard to claim, ‘my pump is better and better each month’, as this is not how it works. Of course, you may be able to improve upon it slightly and experience a more intense pump once you find the right exercises for your muscles – alongside making changes to your diet, but there is a limit to how good the pump gets.
You can get pumped carrying your luggage through the airport, running in between flights, by doing curls with your cat , curls with 1kg dumbbells for 500 reps. The pump is there but there is no landmark achievement – there is no progression tracking method behind it.
It is just a result of engaging your muscles – but training can be done the wrong way. Training your muscles if not done correctly is not enough to build more muscle. It is therefore fair to say that the pump does not matter in the process of bodybuilding – or at least is not something you should rely on to define a good workout.
3- Increasing your strength and volume is measurable
If you are a powerlifter and your strength is going up, then that’s great. You are improving. As a bodybuilder, it is also important to increase volume with the strength gained in order to build muscle. Tracking your strength (the weight you lift) and volume (the number of reps/sets you do) is easy. You go from 5×5@100kg on your bench to 5×5@105kg and you can see that you are stronger!
When working on longer sets and volume: you could say your conditioning is better based on how much you can do in a session. If you can do a few more sets than previously and feel the same way afterward then this is measurable progress.
You can track your results, and getting pumped is a byproduct of your workouts which is great. There is an article on how many repetitions to do to build muscle which explains this scalable approach.
But pumping work-outs seem to work for those using performance-enhancing drugs?
Some athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs might spend more time doing “pumping exercises”. Just like on the cables, and they get results from it. There are a few differences between enhanced vs natural training and the effects of those drugs mean that “pumping it up” may be more effective for them which is why they do so.
But as a natural bodybuilder this is different for you. Sometimes there is a lot of misinformation in the fitness industry. The advise we get nowadays mostly comes from people under performance-enhancing drugs who sometimes have questionable advice for natural bodybuilders. Just make sure you take any advice with a pinch of salt, even ours!
We hope this article will help you improve your routine and get you the results you want.
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments!