How Long Does A Pump Last? - (2023)

If you lift weights when working out, you’ll know that one of the best parts of training is getting a ‘pump.’

A muscle pump may not offer any benefits in terms of athletic performance, but it certainly looks pretty damned cool, and it will help give you a real psychological lift during and after training. It will also help you to look even more jacked when you snap a post-workout selfie for Instagram.

Bodybuilders and gym lovers alike will no doubt have heard of the drama/documentary ‘Pumping Iron’ which starred an up-and-coming Austrian bodybuilder by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the movie, one of Arnie’s most famous quotes went something along the lines of A pump is more satisfying to me than having sex with a woman and coming. While Arnie later admitted that he had deliberately overexaggerated that statement, it’s clear that he was, and is, a big fan of the pump.

A pump in the gym will leave your muscles looking bigger, harder, and fuller, but sadly it will go far too quickly.

But how long does a pump last and what can you do to maintain and prolong a muscle pump? Keep reading for the answer.


  • 1 What Is A Muscle Pump?
  • 2 What Causes A Muscle Pump?
  • 3 How Long Does A Pump Last?
  • 4 How To Improve And Prolong Your Muscle Pumps?
    • 4.1 Flex After Sets
    • 4.2 Stay Well Hydrated
    • 4.3 Increase Your Carbohydrate Intakes
    • 4.4 Increase Your Training Volume
    • 4.5 Try To Reduce Your Stress Levels
    • 4.6 Supplement With Nitric Oxide Supplements
    • 4.7 Try To Stay Warm
    • 4.8 Try Blood Flow Restriction Training
    • 4.9 Don’t Take An Ice Bath If You Want A Muscle Pump
  • 5 Final Thoughts
    • 5.1 Share this:

What Is A Muscle Pump?

‘The greatest feeling you can get in the gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump.’ – 6 x Mr Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A muscle pump, sometimes simply called a pump, is a temporary increase in the size and hardness of your muscles when you exercise and train them.

During a workout, your muscles will gradually become bigger and harder the more you train them.

Also called ‘transient hypertrophy’ you’ll find that, as the muscles you train are worked harder, blood will rush into them and cause them to swell and expand. It is not uncommon for a muscle to increase in size by more than 2 inches with an intense muscle pump.

As awesome as a muscle pump is, the more pumped you are the more limited your range of motion will be.

Not only that, but an intense muscle pump could even be painful. Generally speaking, however, the more pumped you are the bigger and more jacked you will look. The main issue with a pump is the fact that it is temporary and doesn’t last very long.

As soon as the blood that was forced into the muscles while training begins to recede, your muscles will reduce in size and go back to the puny size they were before you experienced the mighty pump.

What Causes A Muscle Pump?

How Long Does A Pump Last? - (1)

First, though, we need to take a look at what causes a muscle pump in the first place.

(Video) The Muscle Pump - Does Chasing the Pump Help with Muscle Growth?

A muscle pump is caused when oxygenated blood is forced into the muscles when you perform the exercise and train them. With each muscle contraction, blood is forced into the muscles.

The harder you train and the more the muscle contracts, the more blood will be forced into the muscles.

The more the muscles contract the more pressure builds up which helps to force more blood around the body via the veins and blood vessels.

Arteries which pump blood back to the heart however, are not placed under this extreme pressure so blood is transported back to the muscles which veins are unable to carry back to the heart in equal measure. This causes an increase in blood flow to that specific part of the body which allows for greater muscle pumps.

Not only does blood cause the muscles to look and feel bigger and fuller, but so too do extra fluids.

People that take creatine supplements often find that they are retaining more fluids in their muscles, which again causes them to look and feel larger, harder, and fuller as a result.

Also, it depends on your body and how long it takes for creatine to work.

How Long Does A Pump Last?

When most people lift weights, they train with aesthetics in mind, or at the very least, with aesthetics at the back of their minds.

Lifting weights helps to increase lean muscle mass and size, which in turn can improve your physique. The bigger you look, the better you’ll feel.

The great thing about a muscle pump when training is the fact that the pump will make your muscles look and feel much larger than usual.

If you’re training your biceps for example, towards the end of your workout, after you’ve performed a series of bicep exercises, your biceps will be flooded with blood and will look and feel much bigger.

The sleeves on your shirt will feel tighter and if you measure your arms, you’ll see that they’ve increased in size by as much as an inch or two.

Muscle pumps will help boost your confidence and this improvement in confidence will likely help you when training.

While it would be amazing if a muscle pump lasted indefinitely, the sad reality is that muscle pumps gradually wear off the second you stop training and your muscles relax.

Well, it depends on you as a person, your genetics, and how hard you trained. Some people will stay pumped for several hours after a workout whereas others will lose their pump in less than an hour.

Generally speaking, however, a muscle pump usually lasts around 2 – 3 hours after you finish training. You may still have a slight pump for longer than this, but the effects of a pump are most obvious as soon as you finish your workout and stop training.

(Video) how to make a muscle pump last longer

A muscle pump is not permanent, nor is it an indication of muscle growth. You must remember that, although your muscles look bigger, fuller, and harder, you have not actually increased their size. It is impossible to increase muscle size that quickly, though it would be amazing if it wasn’t.

As soon as you cease training and let your muscles relax, blood slowly leaves the muscles and travels back to the organs around your body.

You can, however, prolong how long your pump lasts, but you can’t fight biology. Eventually, and sooner rather than later, your muscles are going to return to the size they were before you stepped foot in the gym.

It is worth noting that a muscle pump is not an indication of a good workout. You could choose one exercise and perform hundreds of reps with a very lightweight, which would cause very little damage to the muscle fibers at all.

The goal of muscle growth is to break down muscle tissue so the body rebuilds it even bigger and stronger than it was previously.

In order to do so, you must really work the muscle hard. Performing many reps with a light weight would cause an impressive muscle pump, but ultimately wouldn’t really help you to build any noticeable muscle.

How To Improve And Prolong Your Muscle Pumps?

Despite muscle pumps offering very little in terms of actual muscle growth, they do provide a psychological boost which can help to boost your motivational levels and help you to train harder. Not only that, but they’ll also help you to take some pretty epic gym selfies too.

The main downside to muscle pumps is the fact that they don’t last very long. Here’s a look at how to improve and prolong your muscle pumps.

Flex After Sets

This may sound bizarre, and you may get some funny looks in the gym, but who cares, it absolutely works.

One of the simplest and most effective ways of getting a better muscle pump, and one which lasts for a much longer period of time, is to flex your muscles after each working set you perform while working out.

Say, for example, you’re training chest and are bench pressing. As soon as you set the bar back on the rack, focus on squeezing your pectoral muscles and imagine you’re trying to force as much blood into them as you possibly can.

By flexing your muscles, you are mimicking a muscle contraction when exercising, which is what forces blood into the muscles in the first place.

As you flex your muscles, you’ll force more blood in there which will help them to look bigger and more pumped than ever before.

Stay Well Hydrated

When exercising, it is essential that you stay well hydrated for health reasons, as well as to ensure you perform more efficiently whilst working out.

It turns out, though, that drinking plenty of water and staying well-hydrated can also be beneficial for getting a muscle pump.

(Video) Detect and Perfect The Muscle Pump

Staying well hydrated and drinking plenty of water means that you are helping to keep your fluids balanced which means that your muscles can function properly and retain more water.

As the cells in the muscles become saturated with water, this will help the muscles to look bigger and fuller.

When training, make sure to stay well hydrated before, during, and after your workouts. This will not only help you to perform more efficiently, but it also means that you’ll get a better muscle pump as well.

Increase Your Carbohydrate Intakes

As far as muscle growth and repair is concerned, carbohydrates are essential in terms of muscle function.

During and after your workout, consuming carbohydrates is a great way of increasing your muscle pumps.

By consuming carbohydrates you’re helping to create an insulin spike. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that is responsible for shutting glucose and nutrients out of the bloodstream and into your muscle cells.

The glucose from the carbs reaches the muscle cells and helps to replenish glycogen stores. This helps the muscles to look and feel bigger, harder, and stronger.

Not only will carbs help with a muscle pump, but they’ll also help to speed up repair and recovery following a workout as they’ll help to shuttle more nutrients into the muscles and facilitate protein synthesis.

Immediately after you train consume a protein shake mixed with dextrose powder, or perhaps consider sipping on a maltodextrin supplement as you train.

Increase Your Training Volume

Another great way of boosting your muscle pumps and leaving the muscles looking and feeling much bigger and harder than they were beforehand is to increase your training volume.

When you lift weights, more volume is very conducive in terms of a muscle pump. The more sets and reps you perform the more blood you will force into your muscles and the harder they will feel.

Not only will this method of training result in greater muscle contractions, but it will also increase your heart rate which will help to pump more blood around the body which means that more will be able to enter the muscles and improve your muscle pumps.

Try To Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress is known as the ‘silent killer’ and while we can’t avoid stress all of the time if it is possible to de-stress and relax, we really should, for numerous reasons.

Not only can stress lead to heart attacks, strokes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and countless other health issues, but it can also negatively impact your gains and your muscle pumps too.

If you experience unusually large amounts of stress you’ll find that your body produces a stress hormone known as cortisol.

Cortisol drains your energy levels, suppresses your immune system, suppresses your metabolism, and can kill your muscle pumps.

The more cortisol you have in your body, the less impressive your muscle pumps will be.

(Video) how to keep muscle pump all day

Supplement With Nitric Oxide Supplements

Nitric Oxide (NO) supplements are hugely beneficial when it comes to muscle performance and muscle pumps.

Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator. This basically means that it causes the blood vessels in your body to dilate and expand in size.

The bigger they are, the more blood they can carry around the body. By using a NO supplement, you can boost blood flow and force more blood into the muscles.

The more blood that’s pumped into them, the more pumped they will look.

Try To Stay Warm

Another very useful tip for anybody who wants to enjoy a bigger, more noticeable muscle pump is to try and stay warm while training.

The heat helps the blood vessels to dilate and relax, which allows more blood to be transported around the body. If you stay warm and active after you finish training you can help to keep blood in the muscles and keep them feeling and looking more pumped, for longer.

Try to avoid getting too cold after you finish training, as this will restrict your blood vessels, causing them to contract, which in turn will restrict blood flow and yield far less impressive muscle pumps.

Try Blood Flow Restriction Training

If you want your muscle pump to last considerably longer, it’s worth adopting blood flow restriction training.

While the health and fitness world is rife with all manner of fads and trends, some of these things turn out to be the real deal. Blood flow restriction training is indeed the real deal.

With blood flow restriction training you wrap cuffs around your arms and inflate them to various pressures which are designed to trap oxygenated blood in the area of the muscles that you are training.

As blood is restricted elsewhere, it stays trapped in the target muscles for longer and can provide some pretty insane muscle pumps. Not only is the muscle pumps more noticeable, but they also last much longer as well.

Don’t Take An Ice Bath If You Want A Muscle Pump

Whereas there are all manner of health benefits associated with ice baths, both physically and mentally, they’re not the best in terms of muscle pumps.

Ice baths after training can help to speed up and improve muscle recovery, but they will do nothing for your muscle pumps. When you’re cold, your blood vessels contract which means that they’ll allow less blood to flow through them.

Obviously, the less blood that can be squeezed into the muscles, the less impressive the muscle pump will be.

If you are looking to speed up recovery, and perhaps even enjoy mental health benefits in the process, ice baths are ideal. For gym pumps, though, you should give the ice bath a miss, or at least get in after you’ve snapped your post-workout selfie with a pump.

Final Thoughts

So, how long does a pump last?

Well, while results can vary from person to person, generally you will only enjoy a noticeable muscle pump for around 1 – 3 hours after you finish training.

(Video) Muscle Recovery: How Long Should You Rest Between Workouts?

A muscle pump may not offer any advantages in terms of how effective your workouts are, but it will certainly help you to look better and feel more confident in the process.

If you are looking to prolong the effects of a muscle pump, try the tips listed above and you’ll almost certainly look jacked for longer.


How Long Does A Pump Last? -? ›

A pump—or muscle pump

muscle pump
The skeletal muscle pump or musculovenous pump is a collection of skeletal muscles that aid the heart in the circulation of blood. It is especially important in increasing venous return to the heart, but may also play a role in arterial blood flow. › wiki › Skeletal_muscle_pump
—typically lasts between two and three hours after the conclusion of a training session. Depending on intensity, personal anatomy, and nutrition, some will experience shorter or longer pumps, but for most people the enlargement of the trained muscle group will keep for a couple hours.

How long does a pump last from the gym? ›

A gym pump, also known as transient hypertrophy, is a temporary swelling of the muscle which becomes filled with blood following a resistance based exercise. What is this? A typical gym pump can last about 2-3 hours post-workout.

How do I keep my muscle pump all day? ›

Workout Intensity
  1. High-Intensity Training: A more intense workout generally leads to a longer-lasting pump.
  2. Rest Periods: Shorter rest intervals can prolong the pump by keeping the muscles engaged for longer periods.
  3. Volume: Higher rep ranges with moderate weights also contribute to a longer-lasting muscle pump.
Aug 25, 2023

Why do I lose my pump so quick? ›

It's called “transient” hypertrophy for a reason. Muscle pumps disappear about as fast as they come on, because once you finish working out, your body has no reason to hold onto all that blood in non-working muscles. As for the lactic acid, your body wants to flush that out as fast as possible.

Can a pump last a few days? ›

Muscle Volume Lasting Longer Than 3 Hours

It's possible for your muscles to feel fuller for several hours or even a few days after your workout. However, this is not due to increased blood flow from the pump. The first cause of sustained muscle swelling is glycogen.

How long does it take to burn out a pump? ›

A quality electric pump should last upwards of 15 years of continual household use. There are certain precautions you can take to ensure that your pump lives out its fullest potential.

What does a pump feel like? ›

Your skin starts feeling tight, like it's going to explode, your muscles feel full. The feeling is unlike anything else. It feels good.

How do I not lose my pump after a workout? ›

Here's how you can prolong pumped muscles post your workout:
  1. Increase your reps. You can perform variations of strength training exercises with a high number of repetitions and low resistance setting. ...
  2. Down a protein shake post your workout. ...
  3. Consume complex carbs. ...
  4. Hydrate with lots of water. ...
  5. Stay relaxed.
May 7, 2019

How often should I pump to keep? ›

Pumping should closely follow the same pattern as your baby would be breastfeeding. Pump every three hours around the clock or at least eight times in 24 hours until you build a good milk supply. Some moms find it helpful to set an alarm on their phone to remind them it is time to pump.

How much bigger do you look with a pump? ›

Most bodybuilders like myself would agree that workouts that produce maximum pump can provide up to 20-25% of the increase in muscle size. This comes from sarcoplasmic and mitochondrial hypertrophy and increased capillarization.

How many sets does it take to get a pump? ›

Your move: You can optimize your pump by performing 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps of your preferred isolation movement (like biceps curls) with 60 seconds of rest between sets, or 5 to 10 sets of 8 to 12 reps with short, 30-second rest periods (spider curls are great for this protocol).

Why can't you pump more than 30 minutes? ›

Pumping more often can help stimulate breasts to produce more milk. Moms can try pumping both breasts for 15 minutes every two hours for 48-72 hours. Then moms can return to their normal pumping routine. Pumping for longer than 30 minutes may not be beneficial. This may just lead to sore nipples.

Why can't I pump longer than 20 minutes? ›

If you are a nursing mom, it may be better to limit pumping sessions to 20 minutes if you're pumping after a nursing session in order to store extra breast milk for later, in order to avoid an oversupply.

Can you pump too often? ›

The key is understanding when pumping makes sense and how often and how much milk to pump. Too much pumping can lead to painful oversupply. Too little pumping sometimes leads to low milk production, especially when baby nurses ineffectively or the nursing couple is regularly separated at feeding times.

What happens if you pump too often? ›

At the other end of the spectrum, increasing the milk supply too much through pumping can lead to engorgement, blocked milk ducts, and increased risk of breast inflammation, or infection (mastitis).

How long does muscle memory last? ›

The study that reviewed a group of participants following seven weeks of training, seven weeks off, and seven weeks on again yielded great results, meaning that muscle memory exists for at least seven weeks. Another study states that muscle memory lasts for at least 15 years, possibly even forever2.

Do you always get a pump after working out? ›

Don't get down if you don't get a pump

Don't feel bad if your latest weightlifting session didn't leave you with bulging muscles -- the muscle pump is only temporary, anyway, and long-term muscle growth comes from consistent effort, not just one intense workout.

How do you know if you have a pump from working out? ›

Muscle Pump

An additional sign you got a good workout is if you start to feel a “pump” during or after it. What this means is that your muscles look bigger than they are normally. A muscle pump occurs due to increased blood flow after having a workout with high reps and short rest in between sets.

How big do muscles get after a pump? ›

Most bodybuilders like myself would agree that workouts that produce maximum pump can provide up to 20-25% of the increase in muscle size. This comes from sarcoplasmic and mitochondrial hypertrophy and increased capillarization.


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