So you have worked out and got those muscles pumped but in time they lose the swole. Here is how to get muscles pumped and stay and swole.
Following from our article about the two types of hypertrophic muscle growth: Sarcoplasmic and Myofibrillar, we want to have a look at the mechanics of getting pumped up in the gym (or at home) and what it takes to stay swole.
This is basically the art of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and retaining a portion of each ‘pump’ we get in the gym as permanent growth.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the increased volume of sarcoplasmic fluid in between the fibrous muscle tissue.
Muscle fibre is the real guts of its strength, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting some extra size as well.
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It’s that awesome feeling when you’re a few sets into a workout and your shirt starts to feel tight against your swollen muscles.
Gyms are usually full of mirrors at every angle, so it’s hard not to admire yourself in one of them.
You may not have thought too deeply as to why this happens or whether it’s even important to know.
However, a little knowledge goes a long way, and there is evidence to suggest that each time you get pumped, a little bit of it stays with you. And, there may be simple but effective ways to make permanent the gains you get from each workout.
Did You Know – Citrulline is the best ingredient for inducing the biggest muscle pumps. It boosts arginine levels in your blood better than drinking arginine can!!
The effect of a good muscle pump is to increase cell size – one of the triggers for hypertrophic muscle growth.
This can lead to permanent muscle gains over time in ADDITION to those triggered by the mechanical resistance caused by lifting weights.
How Does It Work?
When we talk about the ‘mechanics’ of getting sole, it’s because it is quite literally a physiological mechanism that causes it to happen.
As you lift something heavy, the muscle doing the work contracts and becomes shorter and thicker.
This action compresses the veins that are carrying blood away from the muscles, trapping the blood in the muscle. The arteries which supply the muscle with oxygen-carrying blood are still doing so.
The continued supply of blood, coupled with the restricted removal equates to a much higher volume of total blood in the muscle and it becomes engorged, swollen, far beyond its resting range.
Each contraction forces some plasma into the fluid spaces between the cells in the muscles.
That’s as you lift. When you put the weight down, thereby taking the load off the muscle, the difference in pressure between the cells and the space between them causes blood to be again drawn back into the muscle.
This makes it look fuller even without bearing a load of weight. That effect is known as reactive hyperaemia, and it is responsible for you feeling pumped.
In simpler visual terms, the act of compressing the muscle during the exercise is like a tourniquet being wrapped tightly around it.
When you remove the weight, it’s as though you are removing the tourniquet, and the blood comes rushing back into the muscle.
Lasting Effect of Being Swole
Being swole for a couple of hours after the gym is a great feeling but when it fades you might think you have gone back to the size you were before hand.
In many respects that can be true; it certainly takes more than one workout to notice permanent gains.
The size you see yourself when you feel pumped is in fact where you will end up after a few months of dedicated workouts though.
And yes, the best way to monitor that over time is with muscle measurements and photographs.
If nothing else, they help to confirm that you training schedule is proving effective.
The damage you do to your muscles in the gym is exactly the stimulus required to grow muscle.
There’s a point when the catabolism (muscle breakdown) shudders to a stop and anabolism (muscle growth) takes over.
The hope is that the difference between anabolism and catabolism is positive, which yields a general size increase.
Since the pump induces muscle cell swelling, this also provides an increase in both anti-catabolic and anabolic activity.
And that’s really the answer we are all after. From that fact alone, getting pumped can contribute towards you staying permanently pumped.
What About Strength?
There’s evidence to suggest that the Type 2 muscle fibres that constitute the strength of a muscle will react to the pressure that the swelling causes, and grow stronger as a result.
So, while Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy and ‘the Pump’ effect might contribute mostly to size gains, there are some concomitant strength improvements as well.
So How Do I Get Bigger?
The way you lift is of paramount importance to the end result you are hoping to achieve.
If getting swole relies on blood vessel compression, then surely constant tension is the way to go.
During the repetition, keep the tension on the muscle by not letting the negative side of the rep go. This means, lift the weight and then lower it with control.
Constant metabolic stress is a valid aspect as well. In this context, it means high rep sets and short breaks in between.
Try 15 to 20 reps in the set with the last 5 being a substantial effort. Take 60 seconds between each set and get back to it.
How many sets?
This is the area to expand over time. start with 3 and move to 5. Five sets of 20 on legs is epic. you’ll tank, but the growth response is bananas.
Drop, compound, giant, super sets, and running the rack. All good for the pump. What are they? OK:
- Drop set: Starting at the heaviest weight, do your set. Then lift the pin to a lighter weight (or take a smaller plate) and repeat. This is mostly completed to failure on each set and at the end to finish the muscle off.
- Superset: Switch from one muscle to the opposing muscle. Like Bicep-Tricep supersets.
- Giant Set: 3 or more exercises with same muscle group with minimal rest in between. Here’s a good one: Lat pull downs – go wide forward grip, close forward grip, close reverse grip. One after another, no break.
- Running the Rack: Huge drop set on machines. Quick succession because you can just lift the pin in between. Complete the whole rack to failure. You’ll be lifting 5 lbs at the end of that and swearing like a sailor!
Don’t look at the fading pump in the mirror at home and lament that you’ll never achieve the look for good. It’s about dedication and wise practice.
Sleep well, eat better and train smart.