Pre-Workout Ingredients You Can Take for a Better Pump
When fitness professionals and enthusiasts use the word “pump” they are referring to the temporary increase in muscle size that occurs when you lift weights in a specific manner and with the right energy intake.
The scientific term for this is hyperemia, which describes an increased amount of blood flow being delivered to the tissues, and in this case to the muscles.
When the muscle is pumped beyond its normal size, it stretches the fascial layer between the skin and the muscle which allows room for more muscle growth.
Over time this results in a greater number of blood vessels which will provide the muscle cells with more nutrients and oxygen which allows for increased muscle growth in the long term.
You can enhance this process by taking pre-workout supplements in order to increase the likelihood of you getting a pump at the gym.
Pump supplements do this by increasing nitric oxide and supporting blood flow to experience enhanced energy, mental focus, and gains.
Citrulline Malate is an amino acid and one of the most popular and effective pump enhancer supplements.
Citrulline can help to improve the waste recycling process in the body and improve nitric oxide metabolism. Citrulline is required to make arginine which is a precursor to nitric oxide production (1). Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, meaning it widens blood vessels which in turn improves blood circulation and the transportation of nutrients to the muscle tissues. Better blood flow means more energy, nutrients, and oxygen are reaching your hard-working muscles.
Not only can these effects increase endurance performance by offsetting premature fatigue during exercise, but citrulline can also enhance energy production via increased ATP synthesis (2). As a result, you can perform strenuous activities for longer while accelerating your gains.
Originally discovered and known as betaine, Trimethylglycine is naturally occurring in the human body and in various food sources such as beets, spinach, wheat, and quinoa.
Supplementing trimethylglycine can provide many health benefits and fitness-enhancing effects.
Trimethylglycine is a molecule and amino acid derivative that can provide a physical energy boost while promoting the growth of muscle tissue (3).
A study showed that 6 weeks of betaine supplementation resulted in improved body composition, muscle size, and work capacity among participants (6).
Agmatine is a chemical compound derived from the amino acid arginine.
This supplement is used by bodybuilders to get better pumps, build more muscle, increase energy, and recover from their workouts.
Agmatine can also influence nitric oxide levels in the body allowing for better blood flow (7). Increased nitric oxide can keep lactic acid from building up and causing fatigue or bonking.
This supplement for vascularity can help to improve muscle pumps by delivering more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your muscles.
By delivering more nutrients like amino acids into the muscle, there is a lesser likelihood of muscle breakdown and increased muscle anabolism.
Curcumin is the active component found in the Ayurvedic herb, turmeric.
It is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects, but what is its role in muscle building?
Research suggests that curcumin may help to prevent muscle wasting by various mechanisms (8).
It may also possess anti-catabolic effects by optimizing the effects of insulin, resulting in increased protein synthesis in skeletal muscle tissue (11).
Yes, protein is essential, but we can’t forget carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are also important in order to build muscle and support energy levels.
Your body converts carbohydrates into glucose which is then stored as glycogen in muscle tissue.
Ingesting carbohydrates before a workout can help to boost your pump while carbohydrates post workout can help to improve recovery by replenishing muscle glycogen stores.
Carbohydrates help to improve exercise performance because it is the main source of fuel used by the body during high intensity workouts. This also stimulates insulin action which acts as a stimulus for muscle protein synthesis and induces vasodilation (12)(13).
Simple carbohydrates have a more insulin stimulating effect than complex carbohydrates which is why they are often recommended around workouts.
It’s best to avoid consuming complex carbohydrates right before exercise in order to minimize digestive distress, and instead opting for simple carb options if you do need an energy source before your workout.
Epicatechin is a flavonoid that is famously found in dark chocolate and provides antioxidant effects.
This natural compound may benefit gym enthusiasts by increasing nitric oxide production and improving insulin sensitivity and thus enhancing muscle growth and strength.
When combined with exercise, epicatechin has been shown to increase follistatin, a protein that may help to build muscle more efficiently while burning fat.
Epicatechin helps to improve the myostatin/follistatin ratio and as a result improve the rate of muscle growth.
Research suggests that Epicatechin may be effective in the treatment of sarcopenia by increasing markers of muscle growth (16).
About the Author
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women’s hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence’s mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.