For decades there’s been conflicting theories on the use of “The Pump” for size and strength. It is common, and unfortunate, that experienced resistance athletes take “The Pump” at face value, and many times don’t really understand what it actually means. It inhibits the ability of the muscle cell to maximize the performance of growth stimulating (heavy) contractions because the blood flow against the working muscle cells blocks removal of waste and lactic acid. The remaining build up inside the muscle stops contractions. In a sense then, “The Pump” directly inhibits size and strength results.
“The Pump” can reduce the number of heavy damaging repetitions in that set. Heavy damaging reps are what truly lead to a real size and strength increase, and “The Pump” reduces your ability to do that. Why is this? Because the muscles swell up with blood when trained in high rep ranges (so you would looked “pumped” right after doing it). But, this swelling subsides after the workout because blood slowly moves back where it came from. Generally, blood will move back to the cavities in the trunk of the body where it performs it’s most vital functions of controlling body temperature and aiding in digestion.
The only real growth improvement relating to “The Pump” is the fact that, in the long run, blood supply is improved allowing enhanced blood flow and subsequent provision of oxygen and nutrients aiding in more efficient recovery. It results in new energy creating organelles and intercellular fluid increase. This is why a pump is fleeting (it is NOT growth). Real growth comes with consistent, and persistent, heavy training and adequate recovery. We have to be careful we do not take the fulfilling feeling we get from “The Pump” out of context. Understandably, if you’re a long-term, hard core resistance athlete you may find this gym talk hard to put behind you, but it’s true. Question old-school methods. Work to understand the science behind it – this may be the best thing you could do for your size and strength training goals.