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Is the Pump Necessary for Muscle Growth?

Is the Pump Necessary for Muscle Growth?

In the last fitness center that I trained in, there was a weird guy. The main focus of his training was getting a pump. He thought the pump was absolutely necessary for building muscles in any way. He lived by the philosophy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Pumping Iron:

I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym, I’m getting the feeling of coming at home, I’m getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling, so I am coming day and night. I mean, it’s terrific. Right? So you know, I am in heaven. — Arnold Schwarzenegger, about the feeling of the pump

That guy once told me, that he started eating junk food before his workout sessions. Because they guaranteed, that he will get a great pump.

I haven’t heard of him since I’ve changed my training location. The chances are high that he’s still desperately chasing the pump, while completely neglecting the more important aspects of his exercise schedule. Today I want to show you, why the pump isn’t as necessary as you might think it is, and how you should train instead.

How your body works

Before we understand, how the pump works, we first need to have a basic knowledge in anatomy.

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How your blood circulation works

Everytime you’re contracting your muscles, you’re constricting your blood vessels. As most of you know, the blood in your body moves from the left side of your heart, to the ride side of your heart. While supplying your organs and cells with valuable oxygen and nutrients in the midtime.

    The first half of the blood circulation is the easy part for your body. The oxygenated and nutritious blood (red color) is far easier to transport, than the deoxygenated blood (blue color). Because of two reasons:

    1. Your heart is on the upper part of your body, because of that, gravity is on your side when pumping the blood.
    2. Your heart is actively pressuring the blood to your body parts. Naturally on the first half of the circulation, you still have more power and velocity.

    The downside of the circulatory system

    These stepping stones leave your body with one big challenge: how do you transport the blood from the middle of your body to your heart again when they have to work against gravity and only barely get help from your heart? A big part of the solution were valves.

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      Valves are security measurements from your body, so that the blood only flows in a certain direction – to your heart. The valves are only allowing one-way traffic. Without valves, all our blood would likely stay in our feet. Deformed valves, due to increasing age or pregnancy, lead to varicose veins.

      Side note: It’s also thought that people that were crucified have died, next to physical exhaustion, from a lack of blood in their upper bodies. Because the immobile and vertical position has created a blood congestion in the lower extremities.

      What happens when you’re having a pump

      I personally like the pump. Who doesn’t? Whenever I’m training in the gym and get the pump I feel amazing. I suddenly look a couple times more muscular than you actually are. Isn’t it therefore rational to conclude that a pump is an indicator of an effective workout?

      Sadly, the scientific explanation of a muscle pump is rather blunt: the muscle contraction in your muscles, for example when you’re doing a biceps curl, constrict the blood flow in your veins. Temporarily, the blood gets trapped inside of your veins, not being able to return.

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        The blood trapped inside your arms, will lead to an increased volume of your muscular size. It will also lead to an increased visibility of your veins. This heavily affects your appearance – but only in the short term.

        The pump therefore is a temporary blood congestion inside your working muscle. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having this blood congestion forces your body to adapt. It’s a metabolic stress that may increase your protein synthesis in the working muscle. Therefore it might increase your muscle growth.

        The downside is, that it increases the stress on your muscles. A functioning blood flow is necessary for recovery. Stress and recovery always have to be in balance, to guarantee best results.

        Do you have to leave the gym immediately and run for the hills if you ever experience a pump? No. Is it necessary for muscle growth? No. It may help induce metabolic stress which then might increase muscle growth, but it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of your training.

        How to structure your training

        Instead of chasing the pump, you should structure your training to guarantee progression. For the beginning two years of my training I have never written down my workouts. I must say, that I wasted some of my potential by not doing that. Progression is the most important metric, when it comes to reaching your fitness goals.

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        What gets measured gets managed. — Peter Drucker

        Write down the date of the workout, the machines or weights you used, how many sets you’ve did and how many repetitions you’ve managed to do. Also don’t forget the percieved intensity, simply rate a workout set from a scale from 1-10. 1 is the easiest and 10 is the hardest. If you value convenience, you can also buy a exercise book. I use the BodyMinder .

        Disrupt the balance in your body. You have to increase the weight over time, you have to increase the intensity. If you don’t guarantee progression, your body will see no reason to adapt and stay where it is. Writing down your workouts can also be a motivational source for you. It’s good to look back to see how far you’ve come. Having a workout book also makes your work with a professional coach much easier, as it shows the trainer, which exercises you’re already experienced in.

          The pump nonetheless, won’t really hurt your physique. And if the temporary increase in muscular size and vascularity truly motivates you to go to the gym – so be it. From a scientific standpoint nonetheless, the blood congestion only has a minor affect in guaranteeing your muscular growth.

          More by this author

          Florian Wüest

          Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

          Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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          Last Updated on November 19, 2019

          20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

          20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

          Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

          If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

          1. Create a Daily Plan

          Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

          2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

          Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

          3. Use a Calendar

          Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

          I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

          Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

          4. Use an Organizer

          An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

          These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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          5. Know Your Deadlines

          When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

          But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

          6. Learn to Say “No”

          Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

          Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

          7. Target to Be Early

          When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

          For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

          Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

          8. Time Box Your Activities

          This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

          You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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          9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

          Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

          10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

          Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

          You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

          11. Focus

          Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

          Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

          Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

          12. Block out Distractions

          What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

          I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

          When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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          Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

          13. Track Your Time Spent

          When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

          You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

          14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

          You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

          Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

          15. Prioritize

          Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

          Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

          16. Delegate

          If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

          When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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          17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

          For related work, batch them together.

          For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

          1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
          2. coaching
          3. workshop development
          4. business development
          5. administrative

          I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

          18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

          What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

          One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

          While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

          19. Cut off When You Need To

          The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

          Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

          20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

          Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

          More Time Management Techniques

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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