The pump you get from working out lasts 2–3 hours after you finish your workout. During this time period, increased blood flow to your muscles will make your muscles look somewhat larger than they do before a workout. Although there are some workouts that help you get a pump more effectively than others, no workout will give you an all-day pump. You can, however, prolong your pump by staying hydrated and stress-free after your workout.
What Causes a Muscle Pump?
A pump is caused by a combination of blood flow and muscle contraction, as described in this scientific study. As you perform a workout, your muscle fibers contract to move the weight. This muscle contraction, in turn, puts pressure on the veins that carry blood away from the muscles, back to the heart. However, the arteries that deliver the blood to your muscles aren’t subject to nearly as much contraction. So, the arteries continue to deliver blood faster than your veins can carry it back to the heart. Essentially, your muscle contraction traps blood in your muscles. This leads to an increase in the size of the muscles you’re working out, creating the “pump”.
Why Does Your Muscle Pump Go Away?
Your pump gradually goes away after you finish your workout because your muscles are no longer being asked to contract and stay contracted. As the muscles slowly relax after an intense workout, the veins are no longer constricted by muscle fibers. This allows your blood to flow back to your heart at the same rate the arteries carry it back to your muscles. So, it’s inevitable that your pump will fade away once you’ve finished your workout.
Are Muscle Pumps Temporary?
The “pump” that makes your muscles look and feel larger is a temporary effect. Because a pump is caused by the constriction of blood vessels, trapping blood in your muscles, it is not caused by increased muscle fiber. So, a pump will not stick around forever.
- Muscle pumps are always temporary.
- Once your workout is done and your blood vessels are no longer constricted by tensed muscle fibers, your pump will slowly reduce back to normal.
- A pump is not necessarily a sign that the workout will build larger muscles.
It’s important to keep in mind that a workout that gives you a pump is not always the most optimal workout for building muscle size long-term. Training with a muscle hypertrophy weightlifting program is the best way to ensure muscle-building results. A pump can add to your workout enjoyment, but the effects of the pump are not long-lasting.
How Can You Make Your Muscle Pump Last Longer?
Hydration is the most important part of maintaining a pump. If you’ve just completed our no-weight, quick-pump workout and want to keep your pump as long as possible, reach for the water. 1–2 cups of water in the first 20–60 minutes after a workout will help keep you pumped longer. You can also substitute your water with a protein shake to feed your muscles while maintaining your pump.
- Drink plenty of water after working out.
- Have a protein shake.
- Perform a stretching routine.
- Eat a healthy, high-protein meal with complex carbs.
- Avoid stress—stress releases hormones that can cause you to lose your pump more quickly.
Stretching is another great way to prolong your pump. Stretching causes muscles to contract as they lengthen. Stretching pumped muscles keeps them under tension, so they’ll stay pumped. You can then follow up your workout with a good meal and some relaxation time. Stress triggers your body to release cortisol, which increases blood pressure and will flush the blood from your muscles more quickly. In other words, stress will cause you to lose your pump more quickly.
Does Getting a Muscle Pump Mean You Had a Good Workout?
A muscle pump is not always a sign of a good workout. A pump also isn’t a surefire sign of future muscle growth. A muscle pump occurs quickest when you perform 3–5 sets of isolation exercises at low resistance for 15–40 repetitions. This rep range is not optimized for long-term muscle growth, but it will get you a pump.
- Just because you got a pump doesn’t mean your workout was good.
- Workouts designed specifically to give you a pump often require at least 15 reps per set—this builds muscular endurance in the long term but won’t build muscle size.
- To build your muscle size permanently, follow a hypertrophy training program that asks you to perform exercises for 8–12 reps each set.
If you want to increase muscle definition and muscle mass, it’s important to perform both compound exercises and isolation exercises. It’s also key to perform 3–5 sets of 8–12 reps to build muscle. A hypertrophy workout in this range will often give you a pump, but more importantly, it will help you build muscle size and strength for the long term.
How Long Does a Pump Last After Lifting Weights?
If you’ve experienced a pump after weight training, here are the key facts you need to know:
- A pump typically lasts for 2–3 hours after your workout.
- You can make your pump last longer by increasing your water intake, stretching, and staying stress-free after your workout.
- A pump is caused by muscle contractions trapping blood flow in your muscles.
- Getting a pump is not always the sign of a good muscle-building workout.
Keep these key rules in mind as you pursue your strength training goals. Getting a pump is one of the fun parts of working out but it isn’t one of the top benefits of resistance training.