Want to maximize your workout performance? Trying to stay motivated in the gym? Hoping to boost your recovery so you can workout more often?
If so, these are all things that a good pump pre workout can help out with. When many people hear the phrase ‘pump pre workout’, they tend to immediately think of some bodybuilder who is looking to get as jacked as possible.
And if that’s you – great, you already know what you want. However, if you’re an average fitness Joe who is looking to feel better in his (or her!) body and possibly fit into the jeans you wore 10 years ago, you may feel like it’s not so appealing to you.
Rest assured, you too can benefit from what a pump pre workout has to offer. In general, a pre workout supplement is designed to enhance your gym performance and help you see better results.
No matter who you are when you step foot in the gym, these are likely your goals. Therefore, a pump pre workout can support that.
Let’s go over what a pump pre workout is, the benefits of having one, and the most commonly seen ingredients in the best pre workouts for muscle pumps out there.
What A Pump Pre Workout Is
A ‘muscle pump’, as it’s often called, is a situation where you have enhanced blood flow to and from the muscle cells. Because of this increased blood flow, your muscles tend to swell up and become engorged. This creates that fuller look and feeling, which, in ‘bro terms’, essentially makes you look swole.
The fuller your muscles are, the larger they tend to look and you might even find that you look leaner as well. Definition starts to come out as the muscles press up against the skin and it seems like you’ve magically gained 10 pounds of muscle – or more.
Of course, you do need to do the training to support this. A pump pre workout isn’t just going to automatically make your muscles look fuller just by using it. It works in conjunction with a proper workout routine, preferably one that favors higher rep lifting in at least some parts of the program (as higher rep training on its own tends to encourage muscle pumps).
When the workout is combined with the supplement, that’s when the magic happens.
The Benefits Of A Pump Pre Workout
So what benefits can you anticipate seeing when you use a pump pre workout supplement?
First, you’ll get more motivation. When you stare back at yourself in the mirror and you see larger, more defined muscles, this is a good cue that your workout routine is successful and will encourage you to keep going. Those who are serious about the gym feed off results so the more you can see those results taking shape right before your very eyes, the harder you are likely to work to keep seeing such great results.
Second, it can help with performance. Some tend to believe that a pump pre workout supplement is all about looking better but that isn’t the case. In fact, it’s very much about performing better as well.
When you use a pump pre workout supplement, you’ll get greater blood flow to the muscle tissues, which means faster oxygen and nutrient delivery.
Think about this: what is the one limiting factor in continuing on with your set? The build up of lactic acid. As you perform your weight lifting workout, when the reps creep up there, you’ll notice that burning sensation taking place, which is the lactic acid build-up that occurs when insufficient oxygen is present.
Since a good pre workout helps deliver more oxygen to the muscle cell, this means you can exercise longer before lactic acid impacts you.
Third, you’ll also get greater nutrient delivery as noted above. This means your muscles get more protein and glucose coming to them, two things that are critical for energy and for recovery. So by using a pump pre workout, you arm your muscles with the precise things they need to perform their best.
Finally, pump products can also kick-start recovery as well. By delivering protein to the muscle cells as just discussed, you’ll be ensuring that protein is there right as you finish so the muscles can begin the repair and rebuilding process. Your mission after you finish your gym workout is to come out of your catabolic state as best as possible. Enhanced nutrient delivery will directly assist you with this.
Ingredients To Look For
Now that you know what pump products are, what ingredients should you be on the lookout for to ensure you get a good product?
This ingredient is derived from the amino acid L-arginine and regulates nitric oxide production in the body, which is a vasodilator and causes the blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow through.
On top of the pump benefits, this ingredient may also help you with pain management, which is key during a workout session, and may also assist with nutrient partitioning, which could help keep you leaner.
L-Citrulline & Citrulline Malate
These are probably the most commonly used ingredients in pre workout supplements so the ones you will see most often. L-citrulline is an amino acid and has been shown to help lower fatigue levels in the body as well as decrease overall muscle soreness1. Using it may mean you bounce back faster from the gym, and are hungry to train again shortly after.
It also helps to increase nitric oxide in the body as well as enhance levels of arginine in the blood. Once again, arginine turns into nitric oxide and helps you get that solid pump effect.
Another popular pump ingredient you might see in your supplement is Betaine. While the above two ingredients work to dilate the blood vessels, betaine takes an opposite approach and can help to decrease the hardening of arteries thanks to the build up of homocysteine in the body, which would then reduce blood flow to the muscles and organs.
By using betaine with your sessions, you’ll not only see stronger muscle pumps, but will also notice that you see a boost in anaerobic capacity (which will help out with any form of HIIT sprints or circuit style training)2.
This is another ingredient that is worth mentioning that is becoming more and more popular is beetroot. Beets come packed with nitrates, which help to increase blood flow and may help to also reduce the stiffening of the arteries.
Many endurance athletes are now getting into drinking beet juice to help boost their performance and decrease the fatigue they would normally experience. But it appears they can also help weight lifting trainees experience better muscle pumps and help you get your rep numbers up there when doing those isolation sets towards the end of your workout session.
Finally, one last ingredient that hit the market in 2018 is VASO6. This one has quickly become a favorite of many gym goers. Initial test results show superior nitric oxide production over the next leading pump enhancer L-Citrulline. VASO6 is a patented ingredient and creates more efficient blood flow for increased ATP production. It also increases vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels). In term, creating better nutrient delivery. This ingredient also has antioxidant effects.
So there you have a closer look into what a pump pre workout supplement is all about and what to look for in one that you purchase. Used alone or in conjunction with a typical energy-enhancing stimulant pre workout, it can help you take your performance to the next level.
- Tarazona-Díaz, Martha P., et al. “Watermelon juice: potential functional drink for sore muscle relief in athletes.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 61.31 (2013): 7522-7528
- Trepanowski, John F., et al. “The effects of chronic betaine supplementation on exercise performance, skeletal muscle oxygen saturation and associated biochemical parameters in resistance trained men.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 25.12 (2011): 3461-3471