Cell Swelling Keeps Muscles "Pumped" For More Than 52h. Size Increases of Up to 16% After a Single Leg Workout! Plus: Changes in Tendon Water & Collagen Content
|I've heard rumors about people who get pumped, just to look pumped ;-)|
In view of the fact that this excerpt summarizes the main information the paper provides excellently, I am not going to ruminate Brad's & Bret's overview of the few studies that allow for relevant and at least to some extend reliable conclusions about the real-world effects of the pump and its significance for someone whose main interest is in building size, not strength (just read the review, if you want the details).
There is something about the pump the review doesn't discuss, though
Don't worry, it's not as if Brad and Bret had overlooked the latest paper M.S Kristiansen and his colleagues from the Institute of Sports Medicine, the Section of Sports Science at the Universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus. Rather than that, the paper with the intriguing title "Concomitant changes in cross-sectional area and water content inskeletal muscle after resistance exercise" had (a) not even been published, when they the two were doing the research for their review and is (b) as we are going to see not 100% relevant to the question, whether the pump does or doesn't promote muscle growth.
|Collagen loss and (super-)compensation occur in the early and late phase of the post-exercise period. If you don't want to risk injury or chronic overuse, you better remember this whenever you're working on a new workout schedule.|
Since the rate of collagen synthesis is negligible within the first 36h after exercise "the breakdown of the tissue driven by catabolic processes [...] may exceed the synthesis" that peaks after 72 h, "if multiple training sessions are too close to one another" (Kristiansen. 2013). The consequences? Acute injuries and / or chronic overuse.
|Suggested Read: "Why training over the full ROM counts" | more|
What the average disco pumper probably didn't know, though....
... is that the water-induced cell-swelling peaks not 4h after the workout, but actually 52h after the last workout. That's probably good news for everyone who hates being wiped from the afternoon workout, when he is trying to get off with the girls on the dance floor. For the average scientist, on the other hand, that's seriously bad news. He or she has after all made a habit of ignoring the difference between muscle gains and water gains in his / her studies, whenever the measured muscle circumferences support his / her research hypothesis. In other words, until now nobody actually payed attention to the fact that what he / she measured on day 1 after the last workout of an 8 week study may be influenced to a large extend by the last and to a minimal extend by all previous workouts. It's thus totally correct that Kristiansen et al. demand that ...
"[...] post-training changes in CSA [cross sectional area] should be interpreted with caution, as they may adhere to exercise-induced water retention resulting from the last exercise bout." (Kristiansen. 2013)In view of the fact that few researchers have hitherto exercised the said "necessary caution", it appears to be more or less certain that a non-negligible proportion of the currently available data on skeletal muscle hypertrophy in training noobs such as Kristiansen et al.'s ten healthy untrained study participants would have to be revised or at least tested.
|Figure 1: Working out leads to increases in water content (left) corresponding increases in muscle "size" (right) at the 10 & 20 cm measuring points of the the quads; all values expressed as relative changes (%) vs. baseline (Kristiansen. 2013)|
- 2 min recovery between sets, 5 min between exercises
- verbal encouragement during all sessions
- total workout time ca. 45min
- 5 min warm up on a cycle ergometer
- 1x warm up set (5 reps; 50-60% 1RM) for the randomly selected working leg
- 5 sets of single-legged leg presses and knee extensions per workout
- 10 reps at an intensity of 10RM per set
|Figure 2: Schematic depictions and actual axial scan of the M. Quadriceps (Kristiansen. 2013)|
I have to admit that I haven't been paying much attention to the time-lag between the last workout and the MRI or measuring tape "powered" assessment of the post-intervention muscle circumference, but I am still convinced that it will be very difficult to find any study, where the post-values were taken more than 54h after the workout.
- Basco, D., Blaauw, B., Pisani, F., Sparaneo, A., Nicchia, G. P., Mola, M. G., ... & Frigeri, A. (2013). AQP4-Dependent Water Transport Plays a Functional Role in Exercise-Induced Skeletal Muscle Adaptations. PloS one, 8(3), e58712.
- Miller, B. F., Olesen, J. L., Hansen, M., Døssing, S., Crameri, R. M., Welling, R. J., ... & Rennie, M. J. (2005). Coordinated collagen and muscle protein synthesis in human patella tendon and quadriceps muscle after exercise. The Journal of physiology, 567(3), 1021-1033.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., & Contreras, B. (2013). The Muscle Pump: Potential Mechanisms and Applications for Enhancing Hypertrophic Adaptations. Strength & Conditioning Journal.
- Tardioli, A., Malliaras, P., & Maffulli, N. (2012). Immediate and short-term effects of exercise on tendon structure: biochemical, biomechanical and imaging responses. British medical bulletin, 103(1), 169-202.