When you’re a regular gym goer, working to get that gain, you might notice after working out for a while that your muscles tend to increase in size making them look larger.
This is called a ‘muscle pump’, or simply a ‘pump’. It’s gym slang for when your muscles need to supply blood, lactic acid, and water while exerting your body during workouts.
So, how long does a muscle pump last? The answer is that a pump lasts about 2 to 3 hours after a workout.
Once your body realizes you don’t need the extra blood and lactic acid, it simply regulates it back across the body, leaving muscles to look just as they were before the workout.
With the proper fitness training, you can achieve much more than a muscle pump. A muscle pump is a direct and almost instant result of working out.
So, what is a muscle pump? Why does a pump happen? Why does it disappear after a few hours? Why are many gym goers looking for ways to prolong these effects and how can you?
All these questions and much more will be answered. So, read on to find out.
What Is A Muscle Pump?
As stated earlier, it’s gym slang used when your muscles grow in size during a workout.
Blood flows to the part of the body that needs it the most, and in the instance of working out, that means your muscles.
Fluids like blood, lactic acid, and water build up in the muscles giving off the appearance of your muscles becoming larger, almost like it’s been ‘pumped’ with air.
Why Does A Muscle Pump Occur?
Needless to say, a muscle pump is not something to worry about medically, and it’s not an object or contraption that blows air into muscles like a balloon.
So what really is happening? There is a study on the strange phenomenon that explains what goes on when a muscle pump occurs.
The fluids that build up in the muscles during a workout, specifically the blood that rushes to the muscles, have an easier time getting to the muscles, but not back to the heart.
In a study, it was found that the muscles’ contractions and the blood flow were the main reasons why a muscle pump happens in the first place.
Blood is not the only fluid that gets sent to the muscles during a workout. Water and other liquids, like lactic acid, also get sent to the muscles. The muscles are where the blood and nutrients are most needed during your exercise.
When you work out, your body is aware of the strain you’re exerting. In this case, your muscles are contracting, so it sends more oxygenated blood to that designated area.
Oxygenated blood is like fuel for the body. The muscle fibers start to contract to move weights.
During the contraction of the muscles, it is noted that the veins carry the blood away from the muscles and back to the heart. Hence the veins are put under more pressure.
This pressure causes the veins to have slightly delayed blood transportation. On the other hand, blood in the arteries that flows from the heart to the muscles isn’t as subject to the same pressure as the veins.
Why Does a Muscle Pump Disappear After A While?
Naturally, since your body no longer requires you to focus on an isolated area to maintain itself, created by the pressure of physical stress.
The muscles are no longer contracting, so the blood flow and the fluids are spread across the body and to the organs where they are needed more.
The fade in muscle size directly relates to the lack of external force no longer requiring intense physical intervention.
After a workout, your muscles gradually begin to relax. Since the constriction in the muscle fibers no longer impedes the flow of water, blood by the veins, and other fluids, the muscles see a reduction in size.
Because a muscle pump directly results from an intense workout, it simply will not last a whole day.
What’s happening here is the muscles are restricting the blood from flowing back to the heart, and this is what causes the muscles to increase in size—ultimately creating a muscle pump.
Ways To Make Your Muscle Pump Last Longer
Not all workouts are made equally. Some hardly give you any muscle gain in the long run but increase the size and sometimes the longevity of a pump.
For others, you might not see that instant size build-up in muscle. A muscle pump does not clearly indicate that you’ll be gaining additional muscle in the long run.
However, there are some ways to make a muscle pump last longer than the average 2 to 3 hours:
Increasing your fluid intake will maintain the fluids in the muscles resulting in a longer muscle pump—protein shake, water, or anything that helps with hydration.
Taking 1 or 2 cups of liquids in the first 20 to 60 minutes will help you maintain your pump longer.
Take in more carbs
Healthy high-protein meals with carbohydrates make your muscles swell from glycogen and are an excellent source of energy for a workout.
Don’t stress yourself out of your muscle pump.
Stress tends to release hormones that cause a pump to fade far more quickly than the average time of 2 to 3 hours.
Stretching after a workout will keep your muscles active, which helps maintain a muscle pump for longer.
Muscle pumps occur during a workout when your muscles seem to inflate in size, tighten and feel heavier. It generally lasts for about 2 to 3 hours after you have stopped working out.
A muscle pump is not a clear indication that you’ll be gaining additional muscle in the long run.
So no matter what workout you do, the effects of a muscle pump are bound to fade, and it’s impossible to make a pump last all day. Though it is short-lived, it is still appealing to many gymgoers.
Hence, many trainers have come up with effective and practical techniques and workouts that make a muscle pump last a bit over the 3-hour mark while still giving efficient gain potential during each session.
It all depends on what you’re looking for from your workout. Having a clear plan and commitment is the best combination for becoming the best version of yourself.
We hope this article gives you a clear insight into what a muscle pump is and what it can mean to you.