T Nation

Strength Increase Without the Pump?


This is not a complaint. It's an observation.
I had Bench day today. Higher numbers across the board on every phase of the Ramps. Full ROM, and 3 pin settings. I never got any sort of pump. Overall session was boring.

I now remember, When i was a thrower and lifted for strength, i never really got pumped. Just stronger, and slowly bigger in mass.
I'm curious.
Have you found any sort of truth to this?
Maybe from Olympic Lifters, or Power Lifters?


I'm focusing a lot on the olympic lifts now, and obviously also doing plenty of heavy squats and pulls. When I do that type of training, that is more neural in nature I never get a true pump. What I noticed is that my body becomes more toned during the workout. The muscles look and feel harder, but they are not swollen.

I understand what you mean about the training being boring... when you get used to the pump feeling, when you don't achieve it sometime feels off. But I actually feel that a generalized "toned" feeling is more indicative of a strength gain spurt while a pump that is suddenly larger than usual indicates an upcoming growth spurt.

I see the same thing a lot with other strength athletes like strongmen and powerlifter... as the training progresses they look more solid and dense, but not swollen big.


fascinating! absolutely fascinating!
when i signed up here, i was asked for for 2 goals. i answered, gain strength, and lose fat.
the strength gains are rolling along
the fat loss is slow but there.

i can totally relate to the "tone" feeling. i was feeling it this evening, many hours after my training. i just couldnt describe it.

i must say. i have read your post over and over again, and every time i read it, i keep nodding my head. yes! yes! yep.
amazing stuff.

thank you so much!


I have always found it interesting when people get bored with strength training. To me it's much more exciting seeing my numbers move up, sometimes weekly, making me hungry to go to the gym.

As far as getting a pump, depending on how much test I'm running, my right arm gets pumped up 2-4 times a day, and it's no bigger than the left one. So I fail too see how muscle pumps tie into muscle growth. LOL


hi jake.

im not sure if you directed this post at me or if it was a general thing, if it was towards me, maybe i didnt make myslef clear. if so, i apologize.

i'm not bored with the training. i was bored in todays session. it was one of those things. i went in with eager to train today. it just got boring along the way. ramp to full rom.. set up the slt decline, set up the rack, get my warmups in, keep adding weight, and more weight, and more weight. hmmm how heavy cn i go? good stuff, then break it down, set up the pins, do the math, start ramping again. more weight, more weight etcetc. break it down, move the bar, move the pins, move the hooks so i can move the pins. ramp again, more weight, etc. ok thats was great.

I just improved my maxes on the pin settings. soon my full rom willl be jumping up again. next... speed bench. ok, break it down, move the pins, move the hooks, bar on hooks, get rid of the pins. 50% for sets of 3. no problem. through the roof. lets do these quickly with no rest. maybe ill feel somethin. i didnt even finish my plazma. it was boring.

tomorrow is another day.

i wasnt even gonna post it, but im glad i did. ct responded with some enlightening info.

and my numbers have been moving up almost every session in some form. so im real happy bout that. the boring part is hard to explain. ct put it well. im grateful for that.


CT answered your question, I was just adding some levity to the subject. My whole program is based around 8 movements total. I've heard it all over the years, about boredom, burnout, muscle confusion, it all just makes me laugh. Your on the right track, and asking the right guy. I was just poking fun at the people that do chase the pump.


I'm 100% a performance guy and I love nothing more than the feeling of lifting a big weight or exploding with a heavy load. But I'll say that the pump can become addicting.

That having been said, when you experience truly effective performance-based training even if the pump is fun, the training you need to do to get it will bore you out of your mind!


I don't know about that. I personally think that it is far more entertaining than volume/bodybuilder work.


The toned feeling after a good heavy load workout like 531 or an Olympic day tingles the whole body for a day or more. It feels like something is really happening even though you don't seem to be growing very fast. I am much stronger than a year ago, but not much different looking. Even with new PRs in cleans and snatches I look about the same. Been lifting for over thirty years and consistently for seven. Takes a lot to make an impact these days. I wouldn't trade a pump for a new snatch PR though. Not today anyway.


Haha, this thread was answered and over, than I made a joke, and it came back to life. I find the older I get, and longer I train, the less variety I do. Right now I train 4 days a week, two movements per day, and I love it. Mon. Squats-10x3, cleans-10x3, go home. I just keep getting stronger, and bigger. It's one of those wish I knew than what I know now. I'm all for heavy, high volume sub-max training, I never get a pump, never reach failure, wish I knew this sooner. Once again thanks to CT for pushing Oly lifts, one new trick, that's breathed all sorts of life into my training. Big Pr's for all


true on all counts!!!

as a thrower a gazillion years ago, most of that werner gunthor video was very typical for me. never a pump. never. but farther throws, higher, longer jumps, faster times etc was where its at. hell, we never did any bicep or tricep work. big bi's get in the way when holding the shot.

at 40, i started lifting again and someone in the gym got me into bodybuilding. i liked it. i wasnt throwing anymore so why not.
yes!, i never thought of it, but, the pump can be very addictive.

i know im not the only one who gets a great pump going, and keeps on training, 1,2, 3 hours trying to keep it, or get it back, or find the "holy grail" and be able to keep the pump all day. then burnout the cns, but afraid to take a day off because your afraid to lose it.
yep, ct, very well said. Addictive!