Muscle pump during a weightlifting session, often referred to as “the pump”, is when the muscles swell up during the workout.
This is caused when excess blood fills up the working muscles, giving them a fuller, tighter feeling–much like a water balloon being filled with water.
Along with increased blood flow to working muscle, a flow of nutrients is also carried into the muscle cells, nourishing and fuelling them further into your workout and post-training recovery.
Though, a muscle pump can be as much a mental experience as it is a physical one. Those who experience muscle pumps in the gym can often feel more confident and euphoric, thus pushing them to work even harder and gain that highly desired feeling of triumph afterward.
Muscle pump can be achieved through quite literally “pumping” the muscles in the gym, or resistance training!
Diet is often an important component to achieving this, though, particularly the pre-workout meal. Carbohydrates fill the muscles with fuel, which is our body’s preferred energy source during training sessions.
However, certain pre-workout supplements may also help you achieve muscle pumps, especially pre-workouts containing beetroot extract.
If you’re looking to achieve a muscle pump in the gym, keep reading to find out more about how beetroot can help, and where to find the best beets supplement!
What is Beetroot?
You probably know beetroot as the dark red-purple root vegetable, also known as red beet, or just beets.
This vegetable is packed with nutrients including fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
Beetroot is associated with many health benefits, such as improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance.
This is all down to the exceptionally high content of inorganic nitrates - nitrates, nitrites, and nitric oxide.
Let’s take a closer look at dietary nitrates and how this helps muscle pump!
Beetroot and Dietary Nitrates: Muscle Pump
Dietary nitrates are found in high concentrations in vegetables such as leafy greens, turnips, and most notably, beetroot.
Nitrate is a pre-curser to nitric oxide (NO) and is widely known for its effects on increased blood flow via vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels).
Due to these benefits, nitrates consumed in the form of beetroot juice or powder have been shown to have performance-enhancing benefits.
Research suggests that consumption of beetroot can offer improvements in performance by two means1:
1) Reducing the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise, improving muscle efficiency and thus improving endurance performance
2) Enhancing muscle contractile function, thus improving muscle power and sprint exercise performance
There have also been numerous studies investigating the potential ergogenic effects of beetroot, which appear to be promising in non-elite athlete populations.
As you can see, beetroots can offer additional performance-enhancing benefits because of increased blood flow to the muscles, i.e., muscle pump.
So, not only will you experience a boost in performance, you could also notice improvements in performance from the positive mindset that comes with experiencing a muscle pump.
Beetroot for Bodybuilding
Beetroot supplements have been trending for a while among endurance athletes due to the robust research proving it to be an effective supplement for improving endurance exercise.
Though it’s yet to fully break through the bodybuilding and weightlifting world.
While the obvious benefit of consuming beetroot for bodybuilding would be increased muscle pump, does this have a tangible benefit to muscle growth?
It appears to still be up for debate, though the initial research suggests that this wouldn’t be a surprising finding in the near future.
Beetroot has been shown to improve higher rep sets, thus potentially translating to improved hypertrophy (muscle growth).2
So, while the research in this specific area is still in its youth, the initial findings are promising so far, indicating a huge potential for beetroot supplementation in the bodybuilding world, with little to no downsides.
Dosage of beetroot actually plays a fairly significant role in the performance-enhancing effects, so it’s important to seek out the correct dose to properly reap the benefits!
Findings suggest that acute ingestion of 5.0-8.5 mmol of nitric oxide (310-525 mg) is the dose required to improve exercise economy, though higher doses may be necessary to improve performance.
This amount is equivalent to two concentrated shots of beetroot juice, ideally taken 2-3 hours before training.
Beetroot can also be taken in powder form, such as Rednite, which is a staple ingredient in the Pre Lab Pro pre-workout formula.
This is the richest, most concentrated form of beetroot extract containing 25x more nitrate and 10x greater antioxidants than beetroot.
Not only does this offer the performance-enhancing benefits noted above, but it also sharpens cognitive function, enhances muscle energy, and optimizes post-training recovery.
Beetroot Side Effects
There are minimal side effects to beetroot supplementation.
However, some people may find that it can change their urine and/or stool to a red or pink color, which can be alarming but is not harmful at all.
Otherwise, the only other downsides may be poor taste and cost, but this is subjective!
Beetroot for Pump: Take-Home Message
Beetroot is known to be an effective performance-enhancer due to the high content of nitrates. This can help improve muscle efficiency, reduce the O2 cost of exercise, and help you achieve that much-desired “muscle pump”.
While the research is not yet conclusive around the effects of beetroot on muscle growth, there is a strong indication of it having some great advantages for bodybuilders and weightlifters alike.
You can find concentrated beetroot in the form of juice shots or powder, though our top pick is Pre Lab Pro—the best pre-workout formula currently on the market, which contains the most effective, concentrated form of beetroot powder.
This all-round ergogenic will help boost your performance and optimize your recovery, thus accelerating your fitness journey.
- Jones, A. M., Thompson, C., Wylie, L. J., & Vanhatalo, A. (2018). Dietary nitrate and physical performance. Annual review of nutrition, 38, 303-328.
- Mosher SL, Sparks SA, Williams EL, Bentley DJ, Mc Naughton LR. Ingestion of a Nitric Oxide Enhancing Supplement Improves Resistance Exercise Performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Dec;30(12):3520-3524.