On the other hand, real muscle growth is caused by myofibrillar hypertrophy, which happens when you train with heavy weights for low reps, and this type of hypertrophy is also responsible for huge strength gains. When you train like this, you won’t get much of a pump, but you’re guaranteed to get real improvements in size and power.
When making important decisions about your training style, make sure to keep these three points in mind:
- Training for the pump makes you focus on ineffective training protocols
Yes, they are ineffective. High-rep workouts with light weights do nothing for muscle size and strength and that’s the end of that. There’s a vast pool of scientific data supporting this fact. So if you want to build a lean, well-developed body that’s as strong as it looks, this type of training won’t help you lift more weight and build more muscle.
- Training for the pump increases your risk of overtraining
Pursuing the pump leads people to perform far more sets and reps than needed, and we all know that less is often more in bodybuilding. A ridiculous amount of reps will only cause overtraining, which is a very real catabolic phenomenon that could ruin your hard-earned gains in a relatively short period of time.
- Training for the pump produces only temporary results
We couldn’t possibly stress this point enough. The pump is a temporary phenomenon, which means that after a few hours, your muscles will be back to normal. And make no mistake, your muscles will be in their “normal” state far more often than the celebrated “pumped” state, so you’ll inevitably end up with nothing to show off for your efforts. Unless your goal is to have your chest being swollen for a couple of hours after you train and then returning to its normal size in the blink of an eye, you won’t be happy with the results.
It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve
Although the pump feels like it should be an effective indicator for muscular development, in reality it’s actually pretty meaningless. We’re not saying that the guys who train for the pump are absolutely doing it wrong – at the end, it all depends on what you’re striving to achieve.
If you’re one of the guys who want to be as powerful as they look, you should stick to progressive overloading and doing fewer reps with maximum weight and use ‘the pump’ only as an indication that you’re activating a large number of muscle fibers and you’ve successfully targeted the working muscle. Interpreting it as anything more than that is simply delusional and will only end up making your bodybuilding process more confusing or frustrating. By focusing too much on the pump, you will fail to use your maximum training potential, increase the risk of overtraining and get only temporary visual effects. Get away from the mirror and focus on compound lifts with heavy weight.
However, if your only goal is improving your aesthetics with as minimal effort as possible, or you just want to be able to take cool pictures of your pumped up muscles three times a week, making the pump the centerpiece of your training will work great for you.
Finally, if you’re just too addicted to feeling a great pump, our recommendation would be to try and get the best of both worlds. Mix up your workouts so that your main focus is on achieving myofibrillar hypertrophy, but also throw in some sets with higher reps and lighter weight to get the pump. This way, your muscles will get all the stimulation required for maximum growth, while the visual effects of the pump will boost your confidence and keep you motivated to work hard.