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Arguably one of the best things about working out in the gym is getting that pump. According to legendary bodybuilder and celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s one of the best and most pleasurable feelings in the world. However you see it, the ‘pump’ is one of those things that makes you feel like you’ve worked hard in the gym and you can proudly walk around with your muscles fully engorged and inflated. The pump is technically known as transient hypertrophy and is when more blood enters the muscle than is leaving which causes fluid retention in the interstitial and intracellular spaces of the muscle.

In order to promote a bigger pump, your blood vessels need to dilate, which is why many supplements like to use nitric oxide boosting ingredients; nitric oxide being a key compound involved in the vasodilation of blood vessels. Two of the most common nitric oxide boosters are arginine and citrulline, however did you know that fish oil or krill oil may also help?

A recent study examining omega 3 fatty acid supplementation over 3 weeks found that supplementation resulted in significantly higher serum NO (nitric oxide) levels than those on a placebo. Supplementation also had a beneficial effect on aerobic exercise performance and cardiovascular adaptations to exercise. While the sample size was rather small at only 13 subjects, it’s important to note that the subjects have been endurance trained for at least 7 years.

Practical Applications

The ‘pump’ is more than just cosmetic, it can actually benefit your training by promoting an increase in the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Regardless of the reasons for wanting a pump, one easy way to achieve it would be to simply supplement with an omega 3 supplement such as fish oil or krill oil. Just make sure you get at least 1.3g consisting of at least 660mg of EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and 440mg of DHA (docosahexanoic acid). This dose can be split into 2 or 3 serves throughout the day.

Wilmore & Costill (2005). Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 3rd Edition, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.
Zebrowska A, Mizia-Stec K, Mizia M, Gąsior Z, Poprzęcki S. ‘Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation improves endothelial function and maximal oxygen uptake in endurance-trained athletes.’ Eur J Sport Sci. 2014 Sep 1:1-10.
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