A comment or concern that comes up often during workout sessions is the feeling that is experienced in the muscle during the performance of an a exercise. Just what should you “feel” or is there anything to this “muscle pump” feeling that is often expressed. Also, just what is “going for the burn?”
To describe what someone might be feeling is almost impossible as each persons’ perception is very different.
There is no place for pain in the gym. Never do you work through pain. Peoples’ perception of pain is also very individual, but either there is pain or there isn’t. That part doesn’t really differ from person to person. For that reason, if pain is present stop what you are doing and seek help.
But let’s talk about the “feeling” associated with weight lifting. Just what is happening to the muscle when you are weight training? The muscle pump or “burn” is a physiological response by the muscles during resistance training.
The muscle pump is caused by an influx of blood into the muscles. This increased blood flow is to remove toxins and replace supplies of fuel and oxygen. The burning sensation is the result of metabolic waste products that are produced by muscles in response to intense weight training.
The muscle pump or burn has little to do with increased hypertrophy or increased muscle size. Increased muscle growth comes only from heavy training which produces less or very little muscle pump. You may get an intense muscle pump or burn from doing very high repetitions with a lower weight, but you would not get increased growth or strength.
Going for the burn does not necessarily mean you have had a successful workout. A successful workout is based on progression. Lifting more weight, performing more reps is a good indicator of a good workout. It is good to “feel” during a weight training workout and perfectly normal. You may not feel a burn, but you may feel that the muscle is “swollen” or that your skin feels very tight. These are perfectly normal feelings and are not necessarily to be avoided.
Avoid pain, embrace the “burn”. Work out hard, go for the intensity and you will reap the rewards of a stronger and leaner body.
Till next time,