The Best Pre Workout Snack For a Killer Pump
Anyone who has ever lifted weights love’s chasing “the pump”. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a very interesting description for how “the pump” feels in the docufilm “Pumping Iron”.
If you know, you know.
There are a ton of pre-workout supplements on the market that help you get a pump.
But - there are also certain foods you can include in your diet, and eat as a pre-workout snack.
In this article, we’re listing the best pre workout snacks to help you maximise "the pump" in the gym.
Let’s get to it.
What Is The Pump?
If you've ever lifted weights before - we can guarantee you have felt the pump.
You might not know what it is (read on - we'll explain), but if you've ever left the gym with a burning sensation in your muscle...
Congratulations. Pump achieved.
"The pump" is what happens when your muscles fill up with blood during exercise. This gushing of blood to the muscle, causes it to expand and grow in size.
Once you have a pump, your muscle will look bigger, rounder and fuller than they did pre-pump.
"Pumping up" is very common among physique competitors such as bodybuilders, as well as sports/athletic models before a shoot.
There are some people who think that getting a pump is useless when it comes to adding muscle and making gains. This is because it only lasts for a short time after your workout.
The truth is that getting a pump is actually very useful, even if it only lasts for a short period of time. This is because a pump is the result of your body pushing blood to a muscle being used.
By achieving a pump - it's a signal that you are training with correct form, and actually working the muscle, not just moving weight.
It also helps deliver essential nutrients to the muscle being worked, which will help aid the recovery post-workout.
How To Get a Muscle Pump
There’s a reason why bodybuilders are always trying to get that “pump.” It’s because it feels good, and it can help you see results faster.
So how do you get a pump at the gym? There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout.
- Train with intensity - This doesn’t mean lifting the heaviest weight possible. You can lift maximum weight for 2-3 reps, and do 15 sets and not achieve a pump. However by aiming to lift in a rep range of 6-15 and beyond, and ensuring that the last 1-2 reps are close to failure, will very quickly pump up your muscles.
- Focus on isolation movements - By isolating a muscle, you will be able to achieve a better mind-muscle connection. This is because you don't have multiple muscle groups working under load at once. You can put more focus and attention to the one muscle group you are looking to pump up.
- Use cables - You can get a pump with any kind of resistance based exercise. However a cable allows your muscle to be under tension for longer, without increasing the amount of weight you're lifting. More time under tension will push more blood, as the muscle is working longer, and help you get a pump quicker.
- Use supersets (pairing two exercises together) or circuit training - This helps increase the intensity, without needing to up the weight.
In addition to training with intensity - you also need to make sure your body has the right nutrients to get a pump. Being dehydrated, and not eating enough carbohydrates will kill any chance you have of getting a pump.
Pre workout drinks can also help you achieve a pump, as they contain a range of ingredients designed to push nutrients and blood to the muscle more effectively.
What Foods Give a Good Pump?
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body. They help you recover from workouts, build muscle and burn fat.
When you exercise, your body breaks down carbs and uses them as its main source of energy. This process requires oxygen, which is why your muscles get tired after intense exercise, they need more oxygen to keep working.
When you eat carbohydrates, they're broken down into glucose (a simple sugar) and used as an energy source by all cells in your body. Carbohydrates also help your body make glycogen (an energy storage molecule).
Glycogen is stored within the muscle, and is used as an energy source. If you don't eat enough carbohydrates, your body will not have enough glucose or stored glycogen to effectively exercise.
For those with a lean physique, a lack of carbohydrates will cause them to look "flat" whereas eating carbohydrates to fill glycogen stores will create a "full and rounded" appearance. This is why bodybuilders will "carb up" before shows.
Carbohydrates aren't just important for immediate energy; they also help with recovery from exercise, by replenishing glycogen stores, and helping to shuttle nutrients to the muscle, to aid with recovery.
Eating salty foods before you work out can help create an electrolyte imbalance in the body and increase water retention, which leads to swelling of the muscles This, along with glycogen stores, helps create a more complete, full look.
But while sodium is necessary for good health, most people consume too much of it — up to twice as much as they actually need. Overtime this can lead to high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
The best way to make sure you're getting enough water-soluble sodium without risking high blood pressure or other problems from excessive consumption is by eating whole foods with natural sources of sodium rather than processed foods with added salt.
Water is one of the most important things you can bring with you to the gym. The best way to get a killer pump at the gym is by drinking plenty of water.
In addition to keeping your body hydrated, water can also help with your workout by making it easier for you to breathe. It's easy to forget about your breathing when you're in the middle of a tough set, but it's very important to take deep breaths and exhale slowly.
Another way that water improves your workout is by helping you recover. When you're working out intensely, your body needs fuel and nutrients in order to repair itself after every set. If you don't replenish those nutrients quickly enough, your muscles will waste away and become weak!
Dark chocolate is known for its health benefits, but cocoa powder has even more benefits than chocolate itself.
It contains antioxidants and flavanols, which improve blood flow and circulation in your body. This can help give you that sense of being full of energy when you work out.
Nitric Oxide (NO)
Nitric oxide is a gas that's naturally produced in your body, and it's responsible for dilating your blood vessels. That allows more blood and oxygen to reach your muscles, which means they can contract at higher levels and generate more force.
This is why nitric oxide is considered such an important compound for athletes: It helps with muscle development and recovery, as well as helping improve endurance.
It also increases the amount of lactic acid in your muscles, which allows you to work out for longer periods of time before feeling fatigued.
Nitric Oxide is a very common ingredient across pre-workout drinks and supplements.
The Best Pre-Workout Snacks For Pump
Fruit smoothies make great pre-workout snacks because they contain natural sugars that give your body energy for high intensity workouts. To reap the benefits, though, you should drink smoothies at least two hours before beginning a workout session.
Chicken Sandwich with Wholegrain Bread
A lightly grilled chicken sandwich is another good option for pre-workout meal. Like eggs, it's also a great source of protein. It’s lean meat so you can eat without worrying about excess fat right before exercising.
When you're assembling your sandwich, don't smear on fatty spreads like mayonnaise and cream cheese; instead, layer with healthier ingredients like tomatoes and lettuce leaves.
This pre-workout sandwich is best eaten two to three hours before your scheduled workout regimen and you could also substitute the chicken for slices of lean turkey breast if you prefer.
Protein Packed Porridge
Eating a bowl of porridge the next time you need something before working out is a great move. Oats have lots of protein, which helps your body build muscle and they’ll fill you up so that when exercise time rolls around there won't be any hunger pangs to distract you!
If you're planning on having a bowl of porridge as your pre-workout snack, make sure it is at least two hours before hitting the gym for your workout. You could also jazz up plain porridge by adding fresh blueberries, sliced almonds and drizzling with honey!
Greek yogurt is an excellent pre-workout snack because it contains casein and whey proteins, which are important for muscle building. In addition to these protein sources, Greek yogurt also provides easily digestible carbohydrates that keep your body energized throughout a workout.
Eat a bowl of Greek yogurt at least one hour before your workout, and get your hands on an all-natural unsweetened variety. You can flavour it with real fruits or natural sweeteners like honey or both!
Many fitness buffs reach for fruit as a pre-workout snack because they’re packed full of vitamins and nutrients that help your muscles function in and out of a workout. They also contain natural sugars which are used by the body as an energy source, especially during exercise.
It's a good idea to eat fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges or berries around 1 hour before you work out.
Lean Meat, Carb, and Veggie Meal
For many gym rats, a plate with all three macronutrients—protein, carbohydrate and fat—is the ideal pre-workout meal. This balanced mix of nutrients provides energy for workouts and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
Here's a list of food items that make great pre-workout meals:
Lean meats, such as chicken breast and turkey.
Carbs like brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.
Veggies like roasted carrots, celery sticks and cucumber slices!
It’s best to have a complete meal at least three hours before starting an intense workout program.
Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
A great pre-workout snack is a small bowl of low-fat cottage cheese topped with dried fruits like apricots or raisins. Generally speaking, cheese contains tons of casein and whey proteins, which help fuel your muscles during an intense workout as well as recover them right afterwards.
Eat a low-fat bowl of cottage cheese and dried fruit at least one hour before you start your workout. If you're not in the mood for dried fruit, try sprinkling some sliced nuts or berries onto your cottage cheese.
Protein bars are an easy and convenient way to fill up before your workout. Since they contain high amounts of protein, they can help boost energy levels while you exercise.
Our favourite protein bars for taste and range of flavours available are Barebells, now available also in Soft Protein Bars and Vegan too.
If you’re in a rush, ready to drink protein shakes are an easy way to get the nutrients and energy your body needs before working out.
NOCCO BCAA is a great pre-workout drink, as it boosts energy without calories or sugar. It contains BCAA (branched chain amino acid), green tea extract and caffeine—all of which are crucial to gaining strength during workouts.
Vitamin Boosting Drinks
Improving Your Pump with Pre-Workouts
The pump is the holy grail of muscle growth. At least according to Arnold - and who are we to disagree with the Austrian Oak?
If you're looking for a killer pump at the gym, remember to follow these tips:
- Prepare your body with a nutritious and delicious pre-workout snack.
- Warm up thoroughly
- Aim for higher rep sets of 8-15 (6 at the lowest)
- Stay hydrated before and during your workout
- Train with intensity - your working sets should not be easy
When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, always remember that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand, knowing what foods to consume prior to working out is just as important as knowing the exercises you'll be doing during said workout.
If you eat the right pre-workout meals or snacks, your daily workout routine will be much easier to maintain and you'll get closer to achieving your fitness goals.