Training has become more complex than just hopping on a treadmill or squatting a few hundred pounds and calling it a day. Becoming stronger has deviated far from focusing on exercise to giving nutrition its fair share of attention. In fact, any good coach and pro athlete will tell you that you’re only as strong as how strict you are with diet than exercise. Many of these people will also tell you that you can’t get the best out of your body if you don’t have the “pump.”
In fitness, the pump is when your body’s amped and ready to give its best with every heavy lift. It feels exactly what it is: A feeling of sudden “pumpness” of the muscles. If you're lean enough, you can see it as bulging veins on the surface of your skin.
The pump is also the fitness term for vascularity - or when the body is producing the right amount of nitric oxide that dilates your veins and allows better blood circulation. Better blood circulation leads to better nutrient absorption and this can lead to more fuel for muscles. Thus, more nitric oxide equals more pumps.
- 1 Quick List of the Top 10 Best Pre-Workouts for Pump
- 2 How to Boost Pumps Naturally
- 3 The Best Ingredients For Massive Pumps
- 4 The 10 Best Supplements For Pumps
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 References:
Quick List of the Top 10 Best Pre-Workouts for Pump
In case you’re in a hurry, here are the top 10 best supplements for massive pumps! Each of these supplements have been tried and tested by both new and veteran users in the supplement industry. Each one gives you what you need for performance and pumps, as well as good old fashioned energy and endurance boost.
How to Boost Pumps Naturally
How do you increase your pumps naturally? By eating foods that let the body produce more nitric oxide. Some of these foods are:
- Carbs: Carbs are part of the basic macros we eat for strength gains by way of glycogen replenishment. Carbs are broken down into glucose and glucose that doesn’t get converted to fat is stored inside our muscles as glycogen. Glycogen molecules also have a bit of water in them and leads to a fuller, more shapely look for your muscles.
- Electrolytes: Electrolytes help with hydration as well as reduce the onset of muscle cramps especially during and after a tough lifting session. Moreover, electrolytes such as sodium regulate muscle function and blood volume. When you have adequate levels of electrolytes, your muscles have greater fluid volume that leads to, again, shapely and fuller muscles.
- Water: Hydration is critical before, during, and after a workout. Proper hydration can lead to better pumps because blood circulation is superior than when you’re dehydrated. Increasing electrolyte intake with water helps ensure the electrolytes are carefully funneled towards your muscles. Think of your muscles as a tiny cactus plant. If it has too much water, it looks plump and about to burst. The more plump it is, the less frequency you have to water it. This is the same with muscles: he more pumped they are, the less likely you’ll need to replenish them too much.
- Others: Foods that can boost nitric oxide production can be in the form of shellfish, eggs, almonds, peanuts, cashews, beets, and of course meat. These foods contain some nutrients that are synthetically made in popular pre workout supplements meant to generate as much pump as you need.
While eating the best kind of food or using an expert’s eating program is ideal to let your body produce max pumps, it’s not exactly the most practical especially when you don’t have access to the right type of foods all the time. This is where supplementing for pumps come in. Before we get into the best pre-workout for pump, let’s first check the key ingredients you have to look out for.
The Best Ingredients For Massive Pumps
Citrulline and Citrulline Malate
You can get citrulline from beets, arugula, watermelon, garlic, spinach, and pomegranates. It is a non-essential amino acid and acts as a precursor to another nitric oxide booster called arginine. Citrulline is known to exhibit vasodilation benefits, pumps, and promotes better blood flow. There’s also some evidence for enhanced nutrient uptake and blood pressure regulation benefits.
When it comes to supercharging your body for nitric oxide production, nothing beats citrulline and its much more elite form, citrulline malate. Citrulline malate is superior because it’s absorbed better into the bloodstream than plain old citrulline. The malic acid part of citrulline malate also provides a sort of buffer against lactic acid buildup, enabling you to train for longer.
You can find arginine from peanuts, almonds, dark chocolate, and raisins. Like citrulline before it, arginine also helps with vasodilation, muscle pumps, and blood circulation. Arginine is what citrulline helps make. And while it sounds logical to put arginine above citrulline, the problem is it has a tough time bypassing our gut. Most of the arginine you take are broken down into useless forms and only so few ever make it to our muscles.
Some scientists believe you only really get 30% of the total arginine ingested. So, a 10 gram dose may seem massive, but the reality is you’re only capable of using up 3 grams of the stuff. Not only is this inefficient, it’s only costly and wasteful. This is why any good supplement will always have more doses of citrulline over arginine.
Betaine may not seem like a popular ingredient, but it’s been taking the pre workout world by storm primarily because of its performance benefits that also include pumps. It is found primarily in beets, which is why it’s called betaine, but also in quinoa and spinach. Our liver also naturally produces it. Studies demonstrate its ability to augment muscle protein synthesis (aka muscle gains), help with better endurance, and of course muscle performance by way of nitric oxide production.
Some would argue that betaine is superior to citrulline as betaine can act as a two-way ingredient for pumps and muscle building.
Agmatine sulfate and arginine are closely related in that the former is the metabolite (or byproduct of metabolism) of the latter. Because it’s a metabolite of another nitric oxide booster, agmatine sulfate naturally supports nitric oxide production. And by support, we mean it doesn’t work well as a standalone pump ingredient. This is why it would be rare if not plain erroneous to only have agmatine sulfate in a pump blend or formula as it can only extend the nitric oxide benefits of another, pre-existing, and superior nitric oxide booster.
Other than acting as support, agmatine sulfate also helps block the enzymes that limit nitric oxide production. In this sense, you can say agmatine sulfate helps clear the path for your body to produce as much nitric oxide it needs to power through a hard rep or to finish a tough set.
Nitrosigine is the branded name for a synthetic combination of arginine, inositol, and arginine. The reason for this combination is to make allow arginine to be absorbed with as little waste or breakdown as possible. The addition of inositol also further promotes nitric oxide production as well as act as an extender to pre-existing nitric oxide ingredients.
Nitrosigine is cited to possess benefits for blood circulation, energy, focus, and lots of pump support.
Glycerol is responsible for boosting hydration, enhancing endurance, and supercharging pumps. It often comes in the form of glycerol monostearate, but some brands have designed a glycerol ingredient that is more stable (doesn’t breakdown during digestion), has a better shelf-life, and better aftertaste - noting glycerol monostearate’s waxiness.
Glycerol’s impact on pumps isn’t as robust as arginine or citrulline, but it does help give our muscles that “plump” look and feel. At the very least, you don’t have to worry about lifting weights in a dehydrated state.
Taurine is a popular ingredient often added together with caffeine in energy drinks. Research suggests it confers benefits for muscle hydration which leads to overall better performance and a complementary pump effect. It also helps hydrate from a cellular level, so each cell that passes through your muscles will have a molecule of water that can act as pump “extenders” amidst its nitric oxide counterparts.
Other than pumps and performance, taurine is quite versatile in what it can do and many consider it a “Jack of All Trades” in the supplement world. It can lower stress levels, help burn fat, improve insulin sensitivity, fight oxidation, speed up muscle recovery time, and overall help with cardiovascular health.
Now that we know which ingredients to look out for, Let’s go check out the Top 10 Best Supplements for Massive Pumps
The 10 Best Supplements For Pumps
#1 Legion Pulse
About Legion Pulse
We chose Pulse as our #1, best pre-workout pump because it boasts of an all-natural formula incorporated with clinically supported dosages of key ingredients. They don’t like riding the “multi-blend” or “complex list” bandwagon that makes a supplement contain numerous ingredients with hidden or insignificant dosages.
With Pulse, you know you have something that works when you need it to work. You want the best kind of pumps that pairs well with stimulation and endurance? Look no further than Legion Pulse.
Legion Pulse Key Ingredients
This is a personal favorite. It’s among the first few supplements I ever had the chance to personally try and review and what I experienced blew me away. In a sea of marketing promises and ingredient scams, Altius stood out as a beacon of hope for many pre workout seekers years back.
Altius did the unthinkable yet logical by combining some of the biggest names in the pre workout industry in one blend. The only reason it’s not at the top of our list is because Pulse took what Altius had to offer one step further by adding theanine to combat the “caffeine attack.”
However, the fact that it has a really good dose of creatine paired with citrulline malate for a wild combination of strength, gains, and pumps can force users to look at Pulse as 1A and Atlius as 1B. Either way, Altius is a legit close second when it comes to pump action.
Altius Key Ingredients
The official website describes Dymatize as a “Perfectly-Engineered Pre-Workout.” It is Formulated with the complete set of key ingredients, at high-potent doses, Dymatize is perfectly-engineered to maximize energy, strength, pump, and intensity.
A quick look at the supplements table will tell you that Dymatize is definitely up there within the high tiers of pre workouts.At 20 grams per serving, it has plenty of room to add as many key ingredients as it needs to get shit done, and we think they did a wonderful job maximizing that much space.
Dymatize Key Ingredients
#4 Pump Igniter Black
About Pump Igniter Black
Pump Igniter Black is a premier pre-workout supplement that contains key ingredients providing benefits for boosting mental focus, energy, strength, and give you massive pumps. It’s at #5 because the dosing isn’t as potent as we want it to be considered as top dog or the next best thing after top dog. However, we do give it points for being creative and thoughtful especially with its glycerol content.
Pump Igniter Black Key Ingredients
#5 Total War
About Total War
The people behind Total War says this is the one pre workout that you take “when you’re ready to bring the noise.” We’re not sure what that noise is or why you would bring it with you, but we’re guessing they meant well. Going along with its tough guy theme, Total War is also described as what every pre workout wishes it was, packing more firepower per serving than anything in its class. True enough, Total War does pack a lot of firepower, which is why it's one of our top pre-workouts for pump and vascularity.
Total War Key Ingredients
ENFLATE is that one supplement that was named especially for critical doses of pump ingredients. However, the amazing team behind its name came up short when it gave us a relatively underwhelming serving size and dosage for the formulation. However, that doesn’t mean it’s weak; it’s only not as good as the ones before it.
Enflate Key Ingredients
#7 Nitraflex Pump
About Nitraflex Pump
The first time we’ve seen the word “hyperemia” was when we were reviewing Nitraflex Pump. For those who don’t know, hyperemia is defined as an excess of blood in the vessels supplying an organ or other part of the body. In short, hyperemia is a medical term for “pump". Needless to say, it's a great option for anybody looking to get a good pump at the gym.
Nitraflex is at #7 because while the formula, on paper, looks to be really smart, the citrulline form it has is the generic one. This is also a great option for those of the workout enthusiasts out there who are trying to avoid stimulants. However, if you prefer stimulants in your pre-workout, it might be worth exploring stimulants which would stack well with this particular pump formula.
Nitraflex Pump Key Ingredients
#8 Bucked Up
About Bucked Up
Bucked Up prides itself as having an all-natural, non-GMO line up of pre workout ingredients capable of pumps, endurance, and energy benefits. More than the standard uses of a pre workout, Bucked Up also offers an angle of testosterone boosting you normally don’t see in standard pre workout formulas. We also have a full bucked up review that you can read for more details on this product.
While it does contain 6 grams citrulline malate, more than what Nitraflex Pump offers in both dosage and ingredient form, Bucked Up doesn’t have the same well-rounded pump benefits Nitraflex has. And this is why it’s at #8.
If you're looking for a supplement with high-quality ingredients, Bucked Up is right there with Legion. Both companies manufacturing these products have a lot of attention on quality ingredients. On the other hand, if you just want whatever is going to yield the greatest impact on your workouts, on an immediate basis, some of the other products listed will get it done better.
Bucked Up Key Ingredients
#9 Juggernaut X
About Juggernaut X
At max serving, Juggernaut X provides 8 grams of citrulline and 1 gram agmatine sulfate. The dosages are really hefty, but these two aren’t a potent enough combination to honor Juggernaut X a higher rank in the ladder, especially since we don’t even have citrulline malate. On the other hand, it’s a pretty potent pre workout overall, offering great doses of premium creatine and beta alanine plus some really good nootropics.
Juggernaut X Key Ingredients
About LIT Pre-Workout
Last, but certainly not least is Beyond Raw LIT. LIT is that one pre workout that doesn’t get as much attention or awards, but it can pull off some really good surprises.
LIT is at #10 because it comes off as “basic” from a performance and pump perspective. However, ask anyone else and they’d probably rank LIT higher if only because it seems to appeal to “minimalist” users or people who don’t really like “heavy doses” per ingredient. You can say Beyond Raw LIT is a “play safe” type of pre workout, relative to the ones on this list. For beginners, this might be a great choice. However, a seasoned gym veteran isn't likely to get the pump their looking for, especially if they've been using pre-workout for years.
If you'd like to read more about this great pre-workout for pump, check out the full Beyond Raw LIT review on our site.
LIT Key Ingredients
There you have it, folks. The 10 best pre-workouts for pump and vascularity. Not only do these supplements work on giving you the best pump experience you’ll ever have, they’re also great to cover what you need from a good and highly regarded pre workout supplement.
If you have an interest in finding out more about the best workout supplements on the market, be sure to check out the various reviews we have on our site! There are tons of pre-workouts available, and we try to get around to all of them.
We take a lot of time in our thorough research of these supplements so that you can easily make a decision without much effort. If you got value out of this article, please feel free to share with your friends! We're grateful for the continued support of our readers, and hope you'll come back to check more of our reviews in the future!
- Kim IY, Schutzler SE, Schrader A, et al. Acute ingestion of citrulline stimulates nitric oxide synthesis but does not increase blood flow in healthy young and older adults with heart failure. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015;309(11):E915–E924. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00339.2015
- Gonzales JU, Raymond A, Ashley J, Kim Y. Does l-citrulline supplementation improve exercise blood flow in older adults?. Exp Physiol. 2017;102(12):1661–1671. doi:10.1113/EP086587
- Patlar S, Yalçin H, Boyali E. The effect of glycerol supplements on aerobic and anaerobic performance of athletes and sedentary subjects. J Hum Kinet. 2012;34:69–79. doi:10.2478/v10078-012-0065-x
- Fernández JM, Da silva-grigoletto ME, Caballero-villarraso J, et al. Pre-exercise intake of different carbohydrates modifies ischemic reactive hyperemia after a session of anaerobic, but not after aerobic exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(6):1623-32.
- Costill DL. Water and electrolyte requirements during exercise. Clin Sports Med. 1984;3(3):639-48.