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How to Get Swole on Short Notice

If you need a quick pump before the beach, bodybuilder Kyle Wilkes has a bit of advice.


It’s beach season. And you might, just now, be realizing that the “hibernation layer” hasn’t disappeared, and the enticingly balmy weather of spring has drawn you to rooftop beer taps more often than the weight racks. For shame. Despite what the late-night infomercials are trying to sell you on, there’s no quick fix for skipping on the gym. So you made the bed, and now you have to lie in it — but that doesn’t mean you can’t fluff up the pillows a bit.

Kyle Wilkes, a National Physique Committee bodybuilder and a trainer and coach, let us in on a little secret to get a quick muscle pump in a pinch. It doesn’t replace a dedicated and consistent exercise routine, but if you’re beach bound and it’s the day of, there’s an easy regime to follow to make it look like you’ve at least kept a light gym routine. Unfortunately, the pump wears off eventually, so don’t forget to beef up your charm as well.

1. Start an hour-and-a-half pre-beach. If you’re going to the beach at noon, you’ll need to start your pump-up routine by eating at 10:30 a.m. To get a decent swell, an hour and a half is ideal prep time, to get a good meal and then a fair pump.

    2. Eat smart pre-pump. Aim to eat about an hour before working out. Consume a clean, healthy meal with proper proteins (grilled chicken, fish), carbs (yams or sweet potatoes), and fats to maximize the pump. Healthy fats like avocados along with slow-digesting carbs will maximize a pump over a longer period of time. Just don’t eat as you’re heading out the door; the nutrients won’t be in your body in time. Give yourself time to let the nutrients settle, then get ready to be pumped up.

    3. To get the chest swole, start with push-ups. A half hour before the beach, it’s time to start pumping up the muscles. Forget lifting massive weights — all this will do is annihilate your muscle tissue and make you look even smaller in the short-term. Instead, grab resistance bands (for Step 4) and a flat surface. Start with 15 to 20 push-ups, take a minute breather, then crank out 15 to 20 more. Make sure to really squeeze your chest muscles when in the up position. Then repeat with close-grip push-ups, emphasizing the squeeze on the triceps.

    4. Use resistance to build the biceps. Stand up and place the resistance bands under your feet, then hold the bands and do bicep curls, squeezing your biceps as hard as you can, while maintaining control of your movement. Start with 15 to 20, take a quick breather, then do 15 to 20 more. In between the first and second set, flex your chest and triceps to make sure those muscles are still getting good blood flow.

    Pro Tip
    Skip the sit-up. Abdominals don’t pump up, so all you’ll get is a bloated-looking midsection. You either have the six-pack or you don’t.

    5. Next, pump up the shoulders. Keep the resistance bands under your feet and raise your arms out in front of you (like Superman flying) and to the side. Do these front and side lateral raises for the same reps as the push-ups and the biceps. Keep your arms straight throughout the reps, and remember to do slow controlled lifts, squeezing the shoulders and lats throughout.

    6. T-minus five minutes to swole nation. Round out the swole session with another set of any of the previous three work outs, and if any muscle group needs an extra focus, hit that one up again to make sure it’s pumped proper. Over time, you’ll learn certain muscles tend to pump up easier on your body than others, so you can focus efforts in the right way.

    7. Give one last look in the mirror. If you don’t look significantly more jacked than you did 15 minutes ago, it’s probably time to accept you’re not just in the middle of a “bulking phase”. Do fewer 12 fluid-ounce curls and get back to putting up real iron at the gym.

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