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To Pump Or Not To Pump?

  • By Vishwanthar on Training

  • February 8, 2011

During intial years of my weight training, I felt immensely superior for the muscle pump after a weight training session would give me a  heavenly feeling.  I looked enormous when my body was pumped, and who wouldn’t feel good when they see themselves muscled than they actually  are?    I also have to admit that till today the muscle pump continues to provide me a pleasant feeling.  But it not should be mistaken to be the primary factor for muscle growth. Perhaps, there are some biochemical changes which take place that my favor hypertrophy when a muscular pump occurs, but they are of little significance.

Brooks Kubik, whom I treat as an authority when it comes to speaking about weight training says,   “From a performance point of view they’re pretty puny.  This is why you see many devotees of the pumping style of training who look impressive but lack the strength to back up their appearance.”  Brooks is suggesting that when it is a matter of producing strength and gaining muscle, the workouts should be based towards gaining strength, for muscular growth would naturally follow.  In relation to the above topic of discussion, it is known through research that heavy weights with low reps produce myofibrillar hypertrophy.  Routines consisting of high reps, low weights, and longer duration will lead to sacroplasmic hypertrophy-muscle pumping style of training.  The increased strength caused by myofibrillar hypertrophy improves our functional ability; whereas, sacroplasmic hypertrophy would lead to increased muscle mass with little strength gains.

For example,  say, I would execute higher repetitions on  the bench press with light weights.   On the contrary, I  pile up more weights for the bench press and hit 5 repetitions with out most difficulty.  Now, what do you think would have prodded growth in my muscles?  Obviously, the second scenario where I handled heavy weights for forcing the muscles to lift more weights would induce further growth.  Whereas, performing high reps where I gain a crazy muscular pump is an artificial condition that merely mimics increased size, but it would produce minimal strength gains.

Muscular pump is a temporary condition of inflated tissue, but it will not last long;  whereas, muscle and strength gained from heavy lifting will surely last long.

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