Vince Gironda, ‘Calculating The Pump,’ IronMan, July, (1983)

A man does not have to be very smart to learn some basic truths a bout bodybuilding after 35 years in the gym business. Observation of repetitious standards for SUCCESS in overcoming bodybuilding problems finally become startling clear. Even animals learn through repetition without any outside influence. The first article that I ever wrote was for Physique Magazine about “overtraining”. Top men from all over the country who consult me on their training problems are all down to the last man, overtrained.

Too many sets, too many repetitions and too many exercises. Most bodybuilders spend too many hours in the gym. I teach my students to simplify their routines. I encourage them to train harder by trying to get more work done in the shortest period of time. I always advice them to stay within the confines of their own personal blood sugar level. Blood sugar level drop and losing your pump go hand in hand. That’s where you should stop. That’s the way you decide how much work is enough for you as an individual. When your blood sugar level drops you are incapable of performing at maximum efficiency. Your body drops into a catabolic state, resulting in hormone loss and capillary shrinkage. A smooth appearance is the end result. At this point you have overtrained.

This happens because your central nervous system begins to retard capillary expansion so that you don’t rupture your capillaries. There is also definite muscle tissue loss which is followed by general weakness and lassitude. I refer to this condition as “over-tonus”. Abdominal work also can produce central nervous system shock. Running also produces the same state. Many people are under the misconception that almost any exercise makes a muscle grow larger and stronger. That is a fallacy. Back in 1925, German scientists discovered that to acquire larger muscles you must increase the intensity of work done in a given amount of time.

Generally speaking that means it doesn’t matter how much work you do – what counts is how much you get done in the shortest possible time. Perhaps the most famous experiment relative to muscle building involved rats that were trained to run at different speeds for various lengths of time. Rats that ran six meters per minute for 195 miles had smaller muscles than rats that ran twenty six meters per minute for only 58 miles. This explains why sprinters have denser and larger muscles than distance runners.

A muscle is composed of many thousands of muscle fibers, the number of which vary from muscle to muscle as it does from person to person. The muscle fibers in the upper arm of one man may number 40,000 while the calf muscle may contain 1,120,000 muscle fibers. It is these muscle fibers that determine how large a muscle can grow. In 1897, an Italian scientist named Morpurto, proved even though exercise can produce a 50 percent increase in the size of a muscle, the number of muscle fibers stayed the same. The reason for the increased size was the change in the diameter of capillaries and thickening of the muscle fibers through exercise.

The theory now commonly accepted is that strength and development has a definite limitation depending upon the number of muscle fibers present in a given muscle. People who want to grow larger and stronger cannot expect unlimited development. Heredity has already drawn the line. However, through proper exercise an individual may reach their maximum limits within their hereditary boundary. You must know how to exercise to produce more capillaries.

Overtonus is caused by too many sets and too many exercise combinations. In short, it is the result of being overworked. To achieve a maximum pump, exercise until you notice your pump diminishing. At this point check back on the number of exercises, sets, and repetitions, and the time and tempo required to achieve this effect. This is your personal exercise requirement level. Bodybuilders are not the only athletes who overwork.

I have personally researched the subject and have found that football players, after a hard game, require up to two weeks to regain their normal male hormone level. Long distance running also causes hormone loss. To achieve maximum results, train hard but sensibly. Never exceed your body’s capacity to function at its optimum level. Once you have reached your maximum pump, change to another body section before you pump yourself back down by overworking. You will progress much faster when you apply my tried and proven method of calculating your optimum pump.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Vince Gironda is one of the most knowledgeable trainers in the world today. His advice is sensible and effective. Readers should pay a great deal of attention to it. Vince gets to the point and does not use up a lot of space on useless conversation. His story on the pump will be very interesting and instructive to our readers as will other articles that appear in Iron Man in each issue by this author. Vince Gironda has had about 30 years experience in training many of the best physique men in the world. These effects have resulted in a great deal of information accumulating in that head of his, which he is trying to share with readers through these articles. The pump system he describes above is one of the most popular systems in the country for developing muscle tissue. It is probably not the only system or necessarily the best for everyone; however, it is very effective for many people. Many fellows, who try to use it, use it wrong and, therefore, do not get the maximum results from it.

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