I can’t get a pump and I look flat during the day.

I can’t get a pump and I look flat during the day.

I have a quick question regarding fitness: I’ve been killing myself at the gym – running 3.5 – 4 miles a day and then doing one body part, plus abs. I’m not feeling a pump and then during the day I feel pretty flat. What do you think is wrong?

If you look “flat” and you’re not getting a pump, usually the problem is not enough carbohydrates. This is most likely to occur while you are on a strict, low carbohydrate diet and you are also doing a high volume of cardiovascular training.

Your body can store approximately 400 grams of carbohydrate in your muscles. This storage form of carbohydrate is called glycogen. Glycogen literally “fills up” your muscles. When you are in heavy training (such as four miles of running plus weights every day), the cardio burns up all the glycogen from your muscles. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrate to replenish it, your muscles will look “flat.” Depletion of muscle glycogen actually causes your muscles to “deflate.”

Your muscles could be likened to balloons and glycogen to air. Pump up a balloon full of air and the balloon stretches and expands to its capacity. That’s what happens to you when your glycogen is full. The muscle is harder, the muscle is bigger, and the skin is tighter. When you let some air out of a balloon, the balloon “deflates” and gets smaller, flatter and softer. So it is with your muscles.

Most people think carbs are fattening and that all carbs are bad, so they cut back severely, or worse yet, they cut them out completely. This is a big mistake! Low carbs equals low energy and a flat, “un-pumped” appearance. True, too many carbs can make you fat, but so can too much of any food. The fact is, you need carbs to train hard!

So here’s the “secret”…A happy medium. Eat carbs in moderation. Not Zero carbs. Not High carbs – moderate carbs. Reduce your carbs slightly, especially at night. I don’t agree with everything Dr. Barry Sears writes in his book “The Zone”, but he does make one very good point: It’s better to eat carbs in moderation than to cut them out completely. Zero carb or very low carb diets are not necessary. Moderate carbs and moderate protein with a little more fat (essential fats) are the ticket! You get leaner, you have energy for tough workouts and you stay “pumped” at the same time!

Training is covered in detail in my 340 page ebook Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM)