When Arnold Schwarzenegger described what getting a pump on feels like in 1977

In a resurfaced video from 1977, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the legendary bodybuilder and former politician, vividly described the feeling of getting a pump while weightlifting. For Schwarzenegger, this sensation was one of the greatest and most satisfying experiences in the gym.

“The greatest feeling or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump,” Schwarzenegger proclaimed in the clip. He went on to explain that when you train a muscle like your biceps, blood rushes into it, creating an intense, swollen feeling. “Your muscles get a really tight feeling. Like your skin is really going to explode any minute. It feels different. It feels fantastic.”

Remarkably, Schwarzenegger equated this pump sensation to one of life’s most euphoric experiences, stating, “It feels as good as the sensation of climax.” He admitted that this incredible feeling is why he loved weightlifting so profoundly – because he could experience it repeatedly, whether at home, the gym, or backstage.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “the pump” refers to the temporary engorging of muscles with blood during an intense resistance training session. This swollen state signals optimal muscle activation and is often seen as an indication of an effective workout and impending muscle growth.

While getting a pump elicits pure physical pleasure for some bodybuilders, for icons like Schwarzenegger, it represented more than just a sensation. It was a tangible sign of progress, effort, and the grueling work required to sculpt a physique as legendary as his own.

Even today, many athletes purposefully perform a brief pump-up workout before photoshoots or competitions, as the short-term muscle inflation enhances muscular definition and size. Schwarzenegger’s vivid 1977 description captured the thrill of this phenomenon and cemented its role in bodybuilding lore.