The pump you get during an intense workout, when it feels as if your muscles are going to rip through your skin, is awesome. But wait, there’s even more good news — the pump not only feels great and looks impressive but it actually works in your favour to encourage long-term muscle growth.
This water swells muscle cells much like a balloon, placing a stretch on the membrane that encloses the muscle cell. This is believed to stimulate cellular processes that ultimately result in muscle growth.
In the gym, you can optimize your muscle pumps by keeping your reps in the moderate to high range and your rest between sets on the low end, from 30 seconds to no more than 90 seconds. To further enhance your pump, try stacking these three supplements before workouts.
This supplement shouldn’t be a surprise addition to a stack designed to maximize your pump. After all, nitric oxide (NO) boosters have been hot sellers for their ability to amplify muscle pumps during workouts and boost strength and mass gains. Most of these products contain some form of the amino acid arginine, which gets converted into NO via the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enzyme. NO dilates blood vessels, delivering more blood to your muscles while allowing more fluid from your blood to leave the vessels and enter your muscle cells for shirt-busting swells.
Today’s best NO boosters contain much more than just arginine — they also have ingredients that increase the activation of NOS, such as pycnogenol and ginseng. Look for products that supply 3–5 grams per dose of some form of arginine — such as L-arginine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, arginine ketoisocaproate, arginine malate or arginine ethyl ester — and take one dose 30–60 minutes before workouts.
While NO boosters work to enhance a pump by delivering more water via the blood to muscle cells, creatine does its part from inside the muscle. Having more creatine in your muscle cells pulls more water into them, giving you a massive, long-lasting (as long as you take creatine regularly) muscle pump. Taking creatine to maximize muscle creatine levels while taking an NO booster to get more water to the muscle cells means you can draw in even more water for an even greater muscle pump than when taking either product alone. Go with 3–5 grams of some form of creatine — such as creatine monohydrate, creatine malate, creatine ethyl ester or creatine alpha-ketoglutarate — immediately preworkout.
Also known as glycerin, this sugar alcohol is often added to protein bars for sweetness and texture. Glycerol is the backbone that fatty acids are attached to, forming triglycerides. It also has very strong osmotic properties, which means glycerol is able to bind large amounts of water. A study performed at the University of Glasgow (Scotland) reported that when subjects consumed creatine alone, glycerol alone or creatine and glycerol together for seven days, the creatine and glycerol combo increased body fluids by almost 50% more than creatine alone or glycerol alone.
Taking glycerol along with arginine and creatine will further enhance the pump symbiosis by enhancing the amount of fluid in your blood that arginine can help deliver to the muscle, while creatine will enhance the uptake of fluid into muscle cells. Get in 10–30 grams of glycerol about 60 minutes before workouts to take your pump to the next level.
M&F Magazine November 2007