One of the most fabled experiences in bodybuilding is the pump. For many bodybuilders, that’s what it’s all about. You’ll get a pump naturally just by training, especially if you don’t rest too long between sets. Still, many bodybuilders want more. For that reason, the extra pump benefits of a pre-workout is a must. For me, I want it to not only be pump-loaded, but I also want it to be stim-loaded. If you don’t want the stims, there’s a lot of great choices out there that are stim-free.
What Are Pump Enhancers?
The original nitric oxide enhancer came out in the early 2000s and was called N.O.2. This product worked by stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which increases blood flow. This creates a pump in the muscles. The man that introduced this product is also one of the men behind Phosphagen. This product was the original creatine monohydrate supplement. I’m talking about Ed Byrd, known as “Mr. Creatine” and part of EAS, the brand behind Phosphagen. He’s also the founder and owner of M.R.I., the brand behind N.O.2.
So, to continue, creatine acts as a cell volumizer, which means it pulls water into the muscles. This effect creates a full, or pumped look. So, thanks to Mr. Creatine, we have both water-based pumps and nitric oxide-based pumps.
Benefits Of Pump Enhancers
As suggested above, the pump is a sensation that occurs during training, especially if you train using higher reps and less rest between sets. For example, if you use 10-15 reps per set and 30 seconds or less rest between sets, you’ll get a good pump. Having said that, unless you rest 5 minutes between every set, you can get a pump using fewer reps and resting a little longer.
Besides getting a huge, veiny pump, another benefit of a pump supplement is that the increased blood flow carries nutrients to the working muscles. It also carries away waste products. This means better absorption of nutrients, improved performance and enhanced recovery.
Another benefit is the theory of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. This theory of muscle growth refers to muscle cell volume and is considered one of the primary muscle growth theories. A good pump supplement stimulates sarcoplasmic hypertrophy effectively. (1)
What Are Good Pump Ingredients?
I’ve talked about creatine, and I mentioned the original N.O.2. This product consisted of just one ingredient, arginine. Like creatine before it, N.O.2 spawned an entire category and lots of new ingredients. Of Course, they all claimed to be better than the original. Unlike creatine, a number of these claims are true. When it comes to the pump, however, there are both nitric oxide boosters and cell volumizers. What ingredients perform better? Here’s a look at the best of the bunch.
The Best Pump Enhancers
L-Citrulline – Citrulline is an amino acid that converts into arginine in the body. It absorbs better than arginine as well as doing a better job of stimulating nitric oxide. Many companies make products that use citrulline malate. This is a blend of citrulline and malic acid, an ingredient involved in the production of ATP. The problem is that it cuts the amount of pure citrulline in half. For me, that’s enough reason to go with a pump supplement that uses pure citrulline. However, if you want the extra ATP boost, by all means, use citrulline malate. Dosing should be at least 3g of pure citrulline. However, the best pump enhancers use at least 6g. (2)
S7™ – This is a unique complex that contains 7 herbal ingredients. They include green coffee bean extract, green tea extract, turmeric, tart cherry, blueberry, broccoli, and kale. These ingredients work synergistically to effectively stimulate the production of nitric oxide. (3)
VASO6™ – This is a patented extract of green tea or grape seed that converts to nitric oxide. The conversion rate is 50%, in comparison, some ingredients have a lower rate of conversion. That makes VASO6 a good choice in a pump enhancer (4)
Glycerol (HydroMax™ or GlycerPump™/GlycerSize™) – Glycerol acts as an osmolyte, which means that it pulls water into the muscles for big, full pumps. There are two trademarked versions and the best pump enhancers will use one or the other. It should be noted that GlycerPump recently changed its name to GlycerSize. (5)
AgmaPure™ Agmatine Sulfate – This is the stable salt of Agmatine and will increase nitric oxide level as well as improve glycogen storage in the muscles.. (6)
Nitrosigine™ – This is a patented combination of bonded arginine and silicon that increases levels of nitric oxide. It will last in the body for as long as 6 hours. (7)
Betaine – Betaine is an osmolyte like glycerol, creatine, and also taurine. Of course, this means it pulls water into the muscles. It functions similarly as creatine does. It also works well when combined with creatine. Betaine, like creatine, will increase power and strength. (8)
How To Use Pump Enhancers
You’ll find any number of these ingredients in either a pre-workout or pure pump formula. If the pump is important to you, I suggest using a pre-workout that has at least two ingredients that enhance the pump. Preferably, if you want the full benefits of both nitric oxide and water-based pumps, you will need more than just two ingredients. Some companies have responded to this concept by offering a pre-workout stack. One product is designed for energy and focus, and the other is designed specifically for the pump. You can also use a pump formula every day if you want to. This helps maintain a pumped look all the time.
In summary, pump enhancers are one of the key aspects of a good pre-workout. They can also be a separate non-stim formula that you can use every day, any time of the day. They make a big difference in your appearance. After all, that’s one of the reasons why we train in the first place!
- Figueroa, A., Wong, A., Jaime, S. J., & Gonzales, J. U. (2017, January). Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27749691
- Nemzer BV;Centner C;Zdzieblik D;Fink B;Hunter JM;König D;. (n.d.). Oxidative Stress or Redox Signalling – New Insights Into the Effects of a Proprietary Multifunctional Botanical Dietary Supplement. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29110555/
- Fitzpatrick DF, Fleming C, Bing B, Maggi DA, Malley MO. Isolation and Characterization of Endothelium – Dependent Vaso relaxing Compounds from Grape Seeds. J Agric Food Chem. 2000;204:6384-6390.
- Haulică I, et al. Preliminary research on possible relationship of NO with agmatine at the vascular level. Rom J Physiol. (1999). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11068606