Go backstage during any bodybuilding show, and aside from competitors getting bronzed up, you’ll also find them pumping out pushups, band curls, or a number of other bodyweight exercises.
Why bother? It’s not like they are going to add any last-minute muscle mass minutes before appearing on stage. But there is a legitimate reason for that last minute mini-workout: the pump.
Performing these higher-rep, lower-load movements boosts blood flow to your muscles, which increases swelling in the cells. The result? A slightly more swole you.
Choosing the right ones can improve your posture, too—making you look taller and leaner, while giving you the kind of presence that’ll make you stand out.
In fact, an expansive, widespread posture—as opposed to a hunched-over one—can help you feel more powerful, increase levels of testosterone, and lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, a study in Psychological Science found. In short, carry yourself the right way, and it can make you feel powerful, and it may even change your body chemistry, too. (Here's what happens to your body when you start taking testosterone.)
So yes, you should be playing the long game with your fitness routine. But sometimes, you just want a little instant gratification. Men’s Health fitness editor Ebenezer Samuel created this workout for when you just want to look better, right now. You can do all of these exercises for a full body pump and postural reset, or you can pick a few for a quick pre-outing tune up.
YOUR GET-PUMPED WORKOUT
The key to a proper pump is all about rep count and time under tension. So make sure to heed those numbers.
1. DUMBBELL SINGLE-ARM CONCENTRATION CURLS: 12 TO 15 REPS
Make sure to squeeze the bicep for one count at peak contraction. The word “concentration” is in the name for a reason. You should be focusing on the mind-muscle connection to your biceps
Reps should be controlled with no swinging, says Samuel. Do 4 total sets, resting 45 to 60 seconds between each one.
2. PUSHUPS: 50 TOTAL REPS
Get to 50 in as few sets as you can with good form and full range of motion. Like the biceps, the pecs easily and quickly flush with blood, helping fill out your upper body and contributing to a V-taper, he says.
3. CHINUPS: 25 TO 30 TOTAL REPS
Chinups are easier than pullups, so you’ll be able to crank out enough volume to really pump up your back and biceps, Samuel says.
Aim to achieve the total number of reps in as few sets as possible. Perform these with full range of motion as well for the ultimate pump.
4. GOBLET SQUAT: 12 TO 15 REPS
Hold the bottom of each rep for 1 to 2 seconds for max pump effect, Samuel says.
Because of the weight placement in front of your body putting emphasis on the quads, it doesn’t take a ton of weight to blow them up. These can be done with a kettlebell or dumbbell. Perform 3 total sets.
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