22 July 2009

*Chasing the Pump

So pumped!

Whenever I write a program for someone, I invariably have to deal with one of two issues- that they don't "feel the pump" or that they "don't feel like they're doing anything", which is another way of saying the same thing. As irksome as I find these statements, I'll explain what's up with the pump.

First, I'll address the lack of pump in heavy weight training. Yes, yes, I know, Arnold said that it rules, and Arnold is god, so anything he says is gospel. If Arnold said that one must chase the pump, then I suppose one should. Now that we've got that out of the way, take the time to gaze upon a 16 year old Arnold.

Arnold was a fucking freak. He could have done nothing but squat thrusts and Charles Atlas's chest expander and looked better than 99% of the douches you see in any commercial gym. If Arnold drank a glass of his own piss every morning, because it's sterile and he likes the taste, I'm sure everyone on the boards on Bodyspace would be debating the merits of chilling it versus drinking it warm. Be that as it may, it'd be just about as fucking useful as chasing the pump in the gym.

What?!? How could I state such blasphemy? How could I make such a bold-faced claim? Well, let's think about it.
  1. How is it that bodybuilders achieve a pump before they go onstage? They do very, very light weight for sets of more than 20, in an effort to flush their muscles with blood and bring out their vascularity. That's the fastest and easiest way to get a pump. In spite of this, do you see those same oily, homoerotic fuckers doing that silly horseshit in the gym?
  2. Ever ridden the stationary bike? I don't know about you, but my legs get pumped all to hell and gone. that is not, however, a good indicator of hypertrophy in my mind, as most distance cyclists see to have tiny legs in comparison to mine, in addition to the facet that they'd collapse like a matchstick house under my warmup weights on the squat.
Now, I'm not saying that you should studiously avoid the pump, and leave the gym immediately after you start feeling the slightest hint of a pump. hell no. Pumps are fun as hell from time to time, as you get all vascular and scare the shit out of small children and women, much like Stewie in the episode Stew-Roids. They have their place, but are generally unconducive to ChAoS and PAIN.

"You look like Lou Ferrigno's poop."

Seem contradictory? I'll explain. While fun to get, and certainly the bulk of what's happening on the light days in C&P, they will impede your ability to lift heavy in most exercises, as they reduce range of motion on certain lifts, and make the rest fairly uncomfortable when you go really heavy. Don't believe me? Get a sick pump on your legs and then get under 95% of your max squat and see how it feels. I guarantee that your depth will be utter horseshit, and you'll lament having wasted your lift.

Getting a pump will definitely do a couple of things- it'll make you look better in the immediate future, so it's useful for things like impressing visiting family at Thanksgiving dinner, or as one idiot from Iron Sport Gym used to do, pumping up IN THE PARKING LOT OF CLUBS BEFORE GOING IN. Yes, it happened, and that individual might be one of the least intelligent motherfuckers I've ever known. Don't be him. Getting a pump also increases your vascularity, as one of the ancillary benefits of high-repetition movements is to increase blood flow and stimulate the formation of blood vessels. As we all like vascularity (and come on, chicks REALLY want a vascular guy... it's what they dream about at night), that's a valid reason to pump. You might also subscribe to the idea of fascial stretching, which is the pseudo-scientific idea that pumping stretches the web of connective tissue that surrounds each muscle (the fascia), thereby allowing the muscle to grow larger, because the fascia appears to be the only thing holding FST-7 lifters from unlimited hypertrophy. Yeah, and I'm a Chinese jet pilot. That's like saying that because you once got your car to go two miles an hour again while going downhill with a tailwind, it will now be able to go that much faster on level ground with no wind.

Muscular trauma leads to the construction of new muscle, not pumps. If you want to pump up, go ahead, but while you're doing it, give this some thought- do you think that you're going to build more muscle deadlifting a car out of a ditch, or curling a paperweight hundreds of times while sitting at work?

Go heavy.

Now playing: American Me - Attribute Of The Strong
via FoxyTunes


  1. What is a "pump"?

  2. "The Pump" is the tight, blood-congested feeling in a muscle after it has been intensely trained. Muscle pump is caused by a rapid influx of blood into the muscles to remove fatigue toxins and replace supplies of fuel and oxygen. A good muscle pump indicates that you have optimally worked a muscle group.

    "The greatest feeling you can get in the gym or the most satisfying in the gym is the pump. Let's say you train your biceps - blood is rushing into your muscles and that is what we call the pump. Your muscles get a really tight feeling like your skin is going to explode any minute and it's really tight like someone blowing air into your muscles. It just blows up and it feels different. It feels fantastic. It's as satisfying to me as cumming is, you know, as having sex with a woman and cumming. So can you believe how much I am in heaven? I'm like getting the feeling of cumming in the gym, I'm getting the feeling of cumming at home, I'm getting the feeling of cumming backstage when I pose out in front of 5000 people. I get the same feeling so I'm cumming day and night. I mean it's teriffic right, so you know, I'm in heaven." - Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron


  3. HAHA I'm not the only one that didn't know what it was!

  4. Thank you very much!