Many bodybuilders who wish to build significant levels of muscle mass aim to achieve a muscle pump or burn during their weight training workout sets, with the feeling that such a sensation is indicative of muscle fatigue and breakdown, therefore improving the chances for muscle gain. Bodybuilders will even specifically seek out the muscle pump or burn by modifying certain weight training workout factors in order to encourage such a feeling, and often tell other bodybuilders how their workout was extremely potent or describe a specific weight lifting exercise as feeling superior specifically due to the muscle pump or burn that accompanies each set.

But, is there a serious flaw with this bodybuilding concept? Certainly, any individual who has lifted weights is well aware of the muscle pump and burn fascination, as bodybuilders often speak of this phenomena, but how exactly is the muscle pump or burn achieved, and are the techniques that foster such a sensation actually conducive towards muscle gain?

The muscle pump and burn are a function of high rep ranges, where a bodybuilder uses less weight in order to fail using a much higher number of repetitions, which causes the muscles to fatigue in a far different way than higher weight and lower reps. Because a muscle is able to function for longer periods during a weight lifting set when using higher reps, there is a muscle pump and burn that accompanies the latter portion of a high rep range, as the muscle begins to approach failure, but by virtue of using less weight in order to achieve the muscle pump and burn rep range, muscle building is adversely impacted, and although the workout session may actually feel more intense and effective due to the muscle pump and burn, the type of fatigue, which is more endurance related than muscle building in nature, is not the most effective for those who wish to focus upon accumulating the greatest amount of muscle mass.

When using a lower rep range and higher weight, the workout set will usually not experience anywhere near the level of muscle pump or burn as compared with higher rep, lower weight workout sessions, but because the weight used is greater when reps are lower, the muscle receives a larger level of overload and shock, therefore causing superior bodybuilding results in most muscle groups. Therefore, although the muscle pump and burn is far less in heavier weight lifting sessions, since muscle growth is superior, there is no legitimate reason for a bodybuilder to aim for muscle pump or burn during a workout session that has as its primary intension muscle building.

Higher rep and lower weight workout sessions are helpful for muscle recovery, overtraining prevention, and joint recuperation, but are far less effective at building muscle mass in most areas as compared with heavier weight lifting workouts that do not offer any substantial muscle pump or burn. There are also certain exercises that tend to cause a greater sense of muscle pump or burn, especially those that stretch the muscle significantly (such as pec deck), but they also function in the same method just described, in that the muscle pump and burn will greatly increase with lower weight and higher reps, but, the most important point to remember is that the greatest level of muscle growth will not occur by aiming for a muscle pump or burn, but rather through structuring weight lifting workout sessions to function within a lower rep range where greater weight will be used to produce a higher level of workload.

If you enjoy a muscle pump or burn, then you can always perform one set at the very end of each weight lifting workout exercise that is comprised of higher reps and lower weight (a burn out set), as this will not interfere with muscle growth assuming that all prior workout sets are structured using a lower rep range and heavier weight, which is conducive towards maximum muscle gain. The goal is not to feel as if a muscle has grown in size during the actual weight lifting workout session, but rather to achieve weekly measurable muscle gains, so do not make the mistake of believing a muscle pump or burn during a workout will translate into any extra sustainable muscle growth unless you have structured your weight lifting session with heavier, lower rep workouts for maximum muscle stimulation.

Author's Bio: 

Francesco Castano is the owner of IncrediBody, a physical fitness company dedicated to helping others learn exactly how to gain muscle mass and lose weight without supplements or drugs. He authors two programs, one called MuscleNOW, teaching the correct weight training and diet program to gain muscle mass without bodybuilding supplements at, and Fat Vanish, which teaches how to lose weight & burn stomach fat for permanent weight loss, at He includes lifetime email personal training with both programs, where he personally assists all of his clients with training and diet questions, and has hundreds of testimonials validating the effectiveness of his techniques. He also offers weight lifting equipment, protein powder and fitness accessories at Please visit his web sites, and feel free to contact Francesco at any time with your muscle building or weight loss questions!