I have noticed that right after I finish my workout, my muscles look full and swollen. They are pumped up and look really big for a few hours which is great. However, after a while it feels like they deflate and they don’t look as pumped up which makes me look much smaller. Why is this happening?
Weight lifters and bodybuilders enjoy the pumped up and swollen feeling that occurs after they have lifted heavy weights and busted out a hard workout in the gym. This is also known as “the pump” and it’s what Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about in the movie “Pumping Iron”. When you look in the mirror after a killer workout you will see that your muscles appear to have grown in size. You may be wondering how your muscles have grown in such a short amount of time which is a common question among many new fitness enthusiasts.
It’s important to understand a little bit of science behind the breakdown of muscles. Most people believe that the muscle is made up of mostly protein when in fact muscles are over 70% water and other substances including amino acids and other cells which help to hold the muscle together.
When you lift heavy weights in the gym you put a lot of stress on your muscles and create many tiny micro tears in the muscle fibers. This sends a signal to your body and brain to repair and rebuild the muscle to make it bigger and stronger. Over a long period of time, a complex process takes place which helps to increase hormones and cells within the muscle. In the short-term, muscles are filled with blood and water in order to bring protein into the muscles to help them heal and rebuild. This is the reason why your muscles looked pumped up and much larger right after working out because they are full of blood which provides that amazing full and tight feeling in the muscle.
It can be disappointing when just a few hours later your muscle pump has faded and your physique looks the same as it did before you walked into the gym. The pump is only temporary but if you keep up a steady workout routine then you will get longer lasting and noticeable effects. Unfortunately, this incredible feeling you get when working out is only temporary so enjoy it while it lasts and then get back into the gym to train harder the next time.
It’s important to get enough rest after your workouts so that your muscles can repair and get bigger over time. It’s also very important to know the difference between muscle mass and the muscle pump. If you get confused between the two you can end up overtraining your muscles which will result in you getting weaker rather than increasing strength and size. Don’t think you can train for 2-3 hours when you start feeling a pump. Hit it hard in the gym and train with weights for about 45-60 minutes and then get out of there. Don’t hang around and waste your time doing set after set thinking more training will result in bigger results. It simply doesn’t work like that. Hit it hard with short, intense workouts and then get out of the gym so you can rest, recover and grow!
One of the best ways to get a great pump in your muscles is to train with the right number of reps and eat the best foods and supplements before working out. In order to rush the maximum amount of blood into your muscles, train with higher repetitions in the range of 12-15 reps per set. Lower reps in the range of 4-6 usually do not provide the best stimulation when trying to get that pumped up look to your muscles.
Along with training, it’s imperative to eat the right foods before training. Eating some complex carbohydrates like oatmeal is a great way to provide your muscles with glycogen in order to train hard and heavy. Have you ever tried working out on an empty stomach compared to eating a solid meal with clean carbs and some protein before training? Without some carbs in your system, your muscles will appear flat with very little vascularity (appearance of veins). Along with eating some clean carbs, you might also look into some nutritional supplements like nitric oxide (NO2) which has become very popular lately for providing tremendous muscle pumps and energy during intense workouts.
Establishing a training routine that is intense but not conflicting is important. You must take adequate rest periods between training and also train different muscle groups on different days to maintain and build muscle mass and increase your strength levels. Sticking to a good diet and using regular supplements will also help to increase muscle mass. You should only train a muscle group once per week in order to allow for maximum recovery. It’s always good to follow a split training routine where you break up your muscle groups into separate training days. For example, on Monday train chest and biceps, Tuesday do legs, Wednesday hit back and triceps, Thursday target your shoulders, and then on Friday train your abdominals.
The pumped up and swollen feeling you get when training is one of the best things about weight training, so enjoy it and use it as a motivator so you can continue to progress and build up your physique. However, be very aware it is only temporary and don’t get frustrated when it’s all gone a few hours later. Just focus on training hard, eating quality calories and adding in a few supplements to help maximize the muscle pump when you’re hitting it hard in the gym!