Tip: The Missing Element of Muscle Gains

Go heavy or go home, right? Well, there's something else you need to do before you go home if you want to build muscle.

Don't Forget the Pump

Chasing the pump is no longer bro-science, it's science-science. Muscle researcher Brad Schoenfeld found three major components to building muscle:

  1. Mechanical tension (heavy strength work)
  2. Metabolic damage (the pump)
  3. Muscular damage (soreness)

Mechanical tension is covered with heavy strength work and limited muscular damage should be a byproduct (and not the focus) of a slight progressive overload.

In many cases, the best results come from hitting a heavy lift and then creating metabolic stress – the pump.

Higher Reps, Shorter Rests

When you lift with moderate-high reps and short rests, the prolonged muscular contractions create an occlusion effect and short rests contribute to it because they don't allow enough time for blood to escape the muscles. This leaves the byproducts of muscular contractions "stuck" in your muscles, which can activate mTOR (a central regulator of cell growth) while also increasing activation of satellite cells (precursors to muscle cells).

In short, it means hit the weights hard and heavy in the beginning, then do 2-3 exercises with 8-15 reps per set, longer eccentrics (negatives), and incomplete rest to get a good pump. Skip the pump work and you'll miss out on a lot of muscle gains.

Eric Bach is a highly sought-after strength and conditioning coach, located in Colorado. Eric specializes in helping athletes and online clients achieve optimal performance in the gym and on the playing field. Follow Eric Bach on Facebook