How Long Does Muscle Pump Last

There is nothing we won’t give to keep those pumped-up muscles that way forever! But the sad reality is they don’t last for long. 

Not only do bodybuilders and fitness experts want long-lasting muscle pumps, but people who do regular workouts also want them. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger called the pump “the most satisfying feeling in the gym.”

So, how long does muscle pump last? What can we do to make it last longer? This article will cover all the questions surrounding the pump.

What is a Muscle Pump?

The “muscle pump” is the visible result of your hard work after an extensive workout. They are more commonly known as “guns,” which are swollen and pronounced. While muscle pumps are quite normal after a workout, they are temporary and return to their original size after a few hours.

The science behind the pronounced pump is that blood flow increases, especially in the shoulders and arm muscles, when we work out. This causes a temporary lift in volume or swelling in the muscle. 

That way, it looks aesthetically pleasing and makes us look (and feel) like those poster models. Hence, the appeal behind the pump.

You'll understand the term better by examining the study conducted by two researchers, Bret Contreras and Brad J. Schoenfeld. They defined it as “an increase in intracellular hydration that causes the muscle fiber to swell.”

As the blood flow increases, the vessels expand to accommodate the increased flow, causing the swelling in the area to appear larger.

How Long Does Muscle Pump Last?

Let's come to the big question: How long does muscle pump last?

According to studies and expert opinion, the gym pump lasts 2-3 hours following a rigorous workout. The duration also depends on factors like your diet, your body’s physical anatomy, and the duration or intensity of the workout session.

A light workout will generally not give you well-pronounced pumps. However, a rigorous training session with heavy weights will give you more defined guns. 

But keep in mind the lift is always temporary. There are ways to make it last longer, but after a couple of hours, your muscles will return to their original state.

Weight trainers and bodybuilders usually use heavy weights to seek muscle size and hypertrophy. However, proper dietary intake alongside training is essential to getting the best results.

Some people say their pump lasts longer than normal, and others say it lasts shorter than a few hours, but usually, most people experience the enlargement for only a few hours. 

But if we were to give you a number, there isn't any solid statistic since no such research has been conducted in this area.

That may be because the question of how long a muscle pump lasts has no scientific value or medical purpose. Since it's an aesthetic concern for most people and has less to do with actual muscle building, let’s just go with the generalization.

So, how do we prolong the pump? There are specific strategies to do that, but understanding the muscle anatomy you're targeting first will help.

It also depends on what you've eaten before the workout, the quantity of water in your body, the form of the workout, etc., all of which help prolong the pump.

Muscle Pump vs Muscle Growth

Muscle Pump vs Muscle Growth

Those new to training often confuse the terms muscle growth and muscle pump. Remember that having a pump does not mean you have gained muscle. There are a host of other factors involved that lead to muscle growth.

Muscle growth is long-term. Meanwhile, the pump is only a short-term achievement. 

However, there is a connection between the two. When you use progressive overload as a stimulation technique, you get a pump along with the much-needed muscle growth.

How Do You Get the Muscle Pump?

Say you work out for a couple of hours at the gym. You're lifting weights, burning calories, and sweating profusely. 

Inside your body, the blood actively flows through your muscles. This makes them feel firm and pumped. 

This state lasts a few hours, but right afterwards, blood flow regularizes and moves back to the internal organs. 

The pump, too, gradually loses its firmness and returns to its original state. At times, the muscle feels sore or full. But that's like an after-effect of the workout and has nothing to do with the pump itself.

Reasons You May Be Losing the Pump Too Fast, Too Soon

Muscle-Losing-the-Pump Too-Fast, Too-Soon

Why do you lose your pump too fast? One primary reason is malnutrition. The emphasis here is on "healthy eating habits!”

Are you taking all your vitamins and nutrients? Then, what kind of workout are you engaging in? For example, if you're only doing circuit training, it's not intense enough to get you those coveted guns.

To get the pump, start doing body-building exercises and training routines.

Another thing you need to be mindful of is knowing what drains the pump and doing less of it.

7 Techniques to Make the Pump Last

Here are 7 techniques or tips to keep that smug smile on your face and make those pumps last.

  1. Drink Protein

No matter what you eat or drink before the workout session, it will impact your stamina, workout, and post-workout effects on the body (and yes, that includes the pump).

Protein shakes are recommended as they provide the protein and carbohydrates needed to kick off a dynamic workout session and help with muscle recovery.

You can make an energy-filled drink before starting, taking simple water, juice, or dairy and adding protein powder to it.

  1. Eat Your Carbs

What you have before the workout session is as important as what you eat right after it. If you keep some carbs handy and have a handful of them after a rigorous session, you can keep the pumped muscles lasting long.

Carbs like potatoes, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, grains, etc., help retain the pump and aid muscle repair.

  1. Resistance Training

Focusing on resistance training can also help while working out. Plan out repetitions of resistance training during the session. The more repetitions you do, the more cardio burnout you get, which increases blood flow. 

That way, the blood flows freely through the muscles too, and so you get those damn photo-worthy lasting pumps.

Another thing you can try is to limit blood flow in your limbs. You can do that by wrapping a strap around the upper part of the arms. This way, the blood that flows back to the heart is limited, so the blood volume increases in the muscle. 

This keeps the muscle raised or pumped longer than a couple of hours.

  1. Zero Stress

How many times have we heard that we should not take any stress? Yet, we hardly do much about it. Stress is real; it is part of our lives. We can't avoid it, but we can find coping strategies and stay as far away as possible. 

Well-managed stress levels contribute to long-lasting pumps. The more stressed or mentally pressured you are, the sooner you’re likely to lose your pump. 

Why? As you experience high stress levels, the body releases cortisol as a normal response. 

The hormone drastically reduces the muscle pump and restores it to its natural state. So, if you think you can look like the Hulk with all the stress you’re carrying, that won’t happen!

  1. Drink, Drink, Drink!

Stay as hydrated as possible. Keep a water bottle handy during workouts, and drink water when you can. Water also helps retain the body's chemical balance, so your pump will likely last longer than expected.

  1. Try Supplements

There’s no harm and no foul in reaching out for supplements. These, too, can help you retain the pump longer. The supplements work as vasodilators and increase the blood flow in the body. So you get much better results following a workout session.

Supplements, particularly Omega-3, are perfect for the pump as they increase blood flow and keep heart health in check.

Some popular supplements include:

  1. Nitric oxide boosters

  2. Creatine

  1. Keep Warm

Cold water will never positively impact your pump; in fact, the opposite makes the pump last. Always take a warm shower following a rigorous workout routine. This will restrict the blood flowing through the skin and raise the body temperature.

You can also achieve the same result by wearing extra layers of clothing during the workout session.

Wrap Up

It's common for muscle pumps to disappear following a few hours of rigorous training. How long does muscle pump last? 

For most, it lasts up to two to three hours. But with the above-mentioned techniques, you may increase the pump time and stand out amongst your group as the one with lasting, enviable guns.

Remember that you should always focus on having a healthy diet and hydration for your workout to go well and for you to reap the fruit of your hard training, AKA muscle pump.

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