DAYP 10: Muscle Pump – All Vanity, No Purpose? / Hack Your Hormones for Productivity

This week’s content looks at how to improve muscle pumps and how changing your routines can affect your hormones for the better.

#1: Muscle Pump – All Vanity, No Purpose?

The greatest feeling you can get in a gym or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump. Let’s say you train your biceps, blood is rushing in to your muscles and that’s what we call the pump. Your muscles get a really tight feeling like your skin is going to explode any minute… it feels fantastic.

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

Getting a “pump” when working out feels great and productive. But are there actually any benefits to getting a pump? The answer is YES. There are proven muscle building benefits of getting the pump. The ability to get a pump means things are in place that make it optimal for you to build muscle. The folks at the Mind Pump podcast outline 8 ways you can improve your muscle pumps.

8 ways to get a better pump:

  • Stay hydrated. The majority of what goes into your muscle is fluid. Drink more water leading up to the workout and during the workout.
  • Eat carbs 2-3 hours before your workout. If you workout early in the morning, eating carbs for the previous night’s dinner can help.
  • Get good sleep. You will have a better workout and better pump. Prepare for sleep like you would prepare for a workout. It’s that important.
  • Do higher reps. 12-15 reps is a good range to target. This leads to more blood and oxygen flowing through your system.
  • Slow down your exercise tempo. For example, count 5 seconds when lowering a barbell bench press. A longer time under tension will help the pump.
  • Use shorter rest periods. Supersets and short rest periods can maximize the pump while making your workout quick and efficient.
  • Use full-range of motion. That extra squeeze, pause or stretch can really increase the pump. The extra squeeze and the top of any lift, the pause at the bottom of a squat or the stretch at the bottom of dumbbell flys on a bench are some examples.  
  • Take supplements after you utilize all the free tools. This is last on the list for a reason. The other methods are much more important but some supplements can help by increasing blood flow, vasodilation or boosting nitrous oxide. Some of the supplements mentioned were L-citrulline, creatine, beet root powder and sodium.

References, sources and more:

#2: Hack Your Hormones for Productivity

Our perception of time is perhaps the most important factor in how we gauge our life.

– Andrew Huberman

Our bodies are connected to the natural environment. This is known as “entrainment.” Sunlight, darkness, meal timing, and when we move are important factors that affect our hormone levels (like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine). These environmental factors not only affect our mind and body on how we feel and behave, but affect our perception of time. In this podcast, Andrew Huberman discusses our relationship to time and things we can do to take advantage of these powerful hormones.

3 areas where you can optimize hormones to your benefit:

  • Light Exposure
  • Physical Training and Nutrition Timing
  • Work Productivity

Ways to optimize light exposure:

  • Get outside when you wake up. Get outside when you wake-up and experience 10-30 mins morning sunlight.
  • Get outside in the afternoon. Get outside in the afternoon or right before sunset
  • Limit light at night. In the evening, get as little bright light as you can. Dimming lights lower as the night progresses is one suggestion.

Ways to optimize physical training and nutrition timing:

  • Be consistent when you exercise. Engage in physical activities at consistent times of the day. This should be done within the same two hour window every day.
  • Be consistent when you eat. Eat your meals and snacks within a specific period on a daily consistent basis.
  • Get cold. Practice cold exposure (cold showers, ice baths, wearing less clothes, etc…) for many health benefits including increasing your baseline dopamine levels substantially.

Ways to optimize work:

  • Work in 90 minute chunks. Do focused and hard work in intense 90 minute cycles. Also known as the “basic rest–activity cycle”.
  • Creative work in the morning. Do creative/brainstorming work in the morning and rigid work (i.e. math, accounting etc..) in the evening.
  • Use functional units & rewards. To improve your execution of good habits, break up your day into sections known as functional units. Example, walk outside/exercise for 20 minutes at 8 AM, then after have your coffee. This incorporates dopamine in your day by rewarding yourself after you’ve finished a task.


  • Time perception frames our past, present and future. Our body’s are “entrained” or connected with the external world, mainly the 24 hour cycles of sunlight and darkness. This connection and what we do to maintain a healthy connection is vital in the maintenance of our health.
  • Ways to maintain a healthy connection is to eat, sleep, be exposed to sunlight, and exercise in ideal and consistent times.
  • Testosterone and estrogen production is also tied towards exposure of light.
  • Melatonin levels is a signifier or meter of your body’s entrainment to the earth and sun.
  • An estimated 90 minute time block, or ultradian rhythm, is optimal for work and sleep cycles. This is also known as the “basic rest–activity cycle”.
  • The higher level of dopamine being released in the brain, the higher the tendency for us to overestimate how much time has passed.
  • We experience fun and exciting moments as events that pass by quickly. Paradoxically, we remember them as slow when reminiscing about it or thinking about them in the future.
  • Q&A: Does fish oil or supplements like Athletic Greens break a fast? Dr. Huberman leans towards “No”

References, sources and more:

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