What is “the Pump”?

What causes vascularity or “The Pump”?

When training, muscle contractions cause blood vessels to dilate and also causes blood flow to increase. All that activity in the muscles causes them to expand.

This is why you often feel like your muscles look fuller, bigger and more appealing during/just after your session. Then, the muscles deflate later

Blood pumped into the muscles give them this expanded, fierce look, accompanied by prominent veins.

Now, not having a “Pump” doesn’t mean your not training hard enough and it doesn’t affect your overall progress. It purely depends on the type of training you are doing, what repetitions you are doing etc.

Muscle hypertrophy involves an increase in the size of skeletal muscle through growth in the size of its component cells. There are two different types of hypertrophy training: Myofibrillar and Sarcoplasmic. Myofibrillar refers to increasing the size of your muscle fibers, whereas Sarcoplasmic refers to an increase in the volume of fluid in your muscles. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is what creates this PUMP.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy happens as a result of medium/higher rep training.

One supplement I would recommend to help with this would be PUMP HD™. This product contains Liposomal technology along with creatine and energy boosting elements like B12 to give you that extra energy and drive water to your muscles to create that extra PUMP!

BCAA’s and Their Effect on Training

What Are BCAA’s?

First of all, proteins are made up of 20 amino acids. Some of these the body can make for itself (non-essential) and some must be consumed through diet and supplementation (essential).

BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) consist of the three essential amino acids, Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These amino acids (BCAA’s) make up for 35% of the essential amino acid profile found in muscles. As these amino acids cannot be made in the body, it is ‘essential’ we get them through diet and supplementation. Naturally, BCAA’s are found in foods that are high in protein; animal protein and dairy has the highest BCAA’s concentrations.

How Do They Work?

BCAA’s are relevant in exercise because the body can use them as energy, but they are also vitally important in the role of protein synthesis. For anyone trying to gain or preserve lean muscle, BCAA’s should be a ‘must have’ supplement. In particular, Leucine is the main amino acid of the three that is used to produce energy during exercise. Leucine is also the key amino acid that stimulates muscle protein synthesis in the post-exercise recovery period.

This means, the more BCAA’s present in your body, pre, during and post exercise, the higher the chances are of preserving and gaining lean muscle.

When Should They Be Used?

The ideal time to supplement with BCAA’s would be prior or during training, although they can also be taken directly after training. Exercise suppresses muscle protein synthesis whilst concomitantly increasing the breakdown of muscle protein. Therefore, it is extremely useful to ingest BCAA’s before or during training. By doing so, muscle protein breakdown is halted and protein synthesis can ‘reboot’ immediately after training. BCAA’s can also be ingested directly after training or gained through a Whey Protein shake, all of the BPI Sports Proteins contain at least 5g of naturally occurring BCAA’s.

Vegetarians may struggle to get sufficient amounts of BCAA’s within their diet, although Soy Protein contains a full “essential” amino acid profile, the BCAA’s levels are lower than in sources such as Whey. Therefore, vegetarians will benefit from supplementing with BCAA’s.

BCAA’s & Weight Training

The purpose of resistance training is to induce muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth). Given that the BCAA’s are especially important in stimulating muscle protein synthesis (the process underpinning muscle hypertrophy), then it is extremely useful to supplement with BCAA’s before, during and/or after strength training sessions.


What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissues. Amino acids also play a critical role in many physiological processes like muscle size and strength gains, brain function, mood swings, energy production, and recovery after a workout.


Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids

In all, there are 23 amino acids. Nine of these are classified as indispensable amino acids (IAA) and are usually called “essential amino acids.” What this means is that your body cannot manufacture them: you have to get them from food.

The remaining 14 amino acids are classified as dispensable amino acids (DAA) and are usually called “non-essential amino acids.” What this means is that your body can manufacture them by synthesizing other amino acids. You don’t need to get them from food.

Our Best Aminos will boost your performance by helping you work out longer and harder to stimulate gains, and they will also help you recover faster to support muscle growth


What You Need to Know about Protein Consumption

We get amino acids when we eat protein foods. We get protein by consuming meats, dairy products, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. With all these abundant sources of amino acid available to us, why do we need to buy protein powders and amino acid supplements?

The answer is bioavailability, which is the amount of available amino acids we can derive from a protein source.

Here are four critical factors that reduce the bioavailability in foods:

  1. The amount of fat in the protein source. While whole milk, for example, has plenty of protein, it also has less bioavailable protein than a food with less fat.
  2. The amount of cooking. Cooking often decomposes many amino acids.
  3. The form of food. Is the food solid or liquid?
  4. The efficiency of our digestive systems. Health, age, genetics, and other factors affect how well we can absorb the amino acids in food.

Since these four factors are difficult to control, bodybuilders take easy-to-digest protein powders and amino acid supplements to make sure that they are getting enough protein to rebuild the muscle tissue that they tear down after a great workout.


Here are some guidelines to increase your protein intake:

  1. Don’t substitute protein powders, bars, and tablets for regular meals high in protein. Be sure to also eat regular meals.
  2. Choose protein powders and bars that have a good selection of amino acids, particularly the nine essential amino acids.
  3. If you are using a free form amino acid supplement, get one that has a high dosage of the branch chain amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
  4. Take a protein supplement, such as BPI Sports ISO HD, immediately after a workout, ideally within 30 minutes of your workout. It is at this time that the body is most receptive to an inflow of amino acids. Whey protein is an example of a fast-digesting protein powder.
  5. Eat a balanced meal high in protein about two hours after your protein drink.

By understanding the role amino acids play in helping you achieve your fitness goals, you will be able to make better choices on how to feed your body to build muscle, increase strength, and lose fat.

What is Creatine?

Athletes use a creatine supplement because it enhances sports performance. Although available in organ meats, it’s hard to get enough in a dietary form to stimulate a noticeable improvement in performance. While the supplemental form of creatine is new, creatine itself was first discovered by Michel Eugène Chevreun  as far back as 1832.

This nitrogenous organic acid supplies energy to all cells when Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) replenishes depleted energy reserves. The highest concentration of creatine is in the blood, brain, muscles, and testes.


A Boost to Athletic Performance

Creatine has acquired an almost mythical status among athletes because of the many performance-enhancing benefits it delivers when taken in the right way through a proper loading cycle.

If you are a strength athlete, you will build more muscle mass because of increased intensity. You will also feel almost tireless and lift more than you could before. As a result of these benefits, you will be able to improve your workouts, adding more sets, reps, or weights. Your muscles will look bigger because creatine inflates muscle cells, and this inflation stimulates better protein synthesis and increases body weight.

If you take part in a team sport that requires a stop-and-go type of activity, you will feel less tired because your improved muscular contraction enhanced your performance. And, if you are a track and field athlete, you’ll sprint faster because of improved stamina and increased anaerobic capacity.

Besides improving performance, creatine also plays a significant role in recovery, too. Athletes recover much faster from their game or workout because creatine reduces inflammation and muscle cell damage.

Our Best Creatine contains six advanced forms of creatine for increased strength, muscle gains, and recovery.

Who Should Take a Creatine Supplement?

The following population will benefit from taking a creatine supplement:

  • People who enjoy sports, particularly strength athletes, like bodybuilders and power lifters.
  • People who are aging.
  • People suffering from a neurodegenerative disease.
  • People with low creatine in their diet, like vegans and vegetarians

Still, creatine is not beneficial for everyone. People with kidney disease or diabetes should not take it.


Is it Safe?

Recent research shows that creatine is safe. It does not cause any cellular damage, nor does it adversely affect the liver, kidneys, heart, or muscles.

When creatine received bad press, it was only because of the side-effects from taking too much. It occurred when athletes exceeded the recommended dosage on the label because they believed that if a little was good, more must be better.

This excessive consumption resulted in side effects. Although not dangerous, these side effects were highly uncomfortable. They included stomach pain, nausea, muscle cramping, and diarrhea.


Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Anyone who is healthy can use creatine. But don’t use it if you have kidney or blood sugar problems. It is especially beneficial for you if you’re an athlete. It can increase fat-free mass, muscle fiber size, myosin, and muscle mass. It will improve your strength, power, and sprint performance. What’s more, creatine makes it easier to recover from faster from any sport, and even enhances bone regeneration.

What is Whey Protein?

There are two proteins in cows’ milk: whey and casein. When you add renin (an enzyme derived from calves stomachs), it acts as a coagulant. The milk then separates the two proteins into curds (the casein) and a liquid (the whey).

Little Miss Muffet from the well-known nursery rhyme ate curds and whey, and so have you if you’ve ever had cottage cheese. However, cottage cheese has had most of its whey removed.

After separating the whey from the casein, the whey is filtered and purified. This process removes much of the fat and lactose. When whey is dehydrated, it becomes a fine powder. Most of us are familiar with this form. (Read a related blog post here.)


Whey Protein Benefits

You need protein to keep your metabolism running smoothly and to aid in muscle recovery after workouts. When you supplement with whey, it’s easy to meet your daily protein goals. Whey is highly bioavailable, and it contains all of the amino acids (the building blocks of protein), so it’s a complete protein. Your body absorbs whey quickly and puts it right to use, delivering nutrients to your muscles, and helping them to recover post-workout.

Many people believe that whey increases fat loss, but it is not the whey itself that reduces fat – it’s the addition of more protein to your diet.


Potential Side Effects

It is possible that if you are allergic to milk, you could be allergic to whey. Symptoms may include nausea, cramps, headache, and general fatigue. Even if you’re not allergic to milk, If you consume too much whey, you may also experience these symptoms. Keep in mind your daily protein requirements based on your body weight and nutritional goals.

If you have liver or kidney damage, consult a doctor before you increase your protein intake. Whey is not at all harmful to the liver or kidneys but can worsen pre-existing conditions.


Recommended Use

Making a whey protein shake is a great way to start your day whether you’re headed to the gym or the office. It’s easy to toss a scoop or two of whey powder into a blender bottle with your preferred mixer: water, almond/soy/coconut milk, or regular cows’ milk.

If you have time to make something a bit more substantial and you have a blender, try a smoothie. To your mixer and protein powder combo, add a few ice cubes and then add vegetables such as a handful of spinach or any leafy greens, a cup of fruit of your choice, and a healthy fat. You might pick half an avocado or two tablespoons of nut or seed butter. If you use frozen fruit, you can eliminate the ice cubes.

You can also get creative and add whey protein to cookies, muffins, protein bites, and more.

We recommend BPI Sports Whey-HD™ because it has 25 grams of protein per serving and does not contain any fillers or maltodextrin (a complex carbohydrate with a high glycemic index). It also gives you 5 grams of branched chain amino acids to combat against muscle protein breakdown, making your workouts more powerful. Whey-HD comes in a range of flavors, so we’re sure you’ll find one – or more – that you like! In fact, we think you’ll love this recipe for Coconut Banana Pie shake using Whey-HD.

Click here to learn more about BPI Sports Whey-HD.