In fitness, there will always be new trends “that will totally change how you exercise!”, but not all of them stick. Maybe it’s ultimately too tedious, or the science isn’t sound, or there’s some other reason why it didn’t quite catch on.
Blood flow restriction training (also known as occlusion training) isn’t one of those things. It’s not tedious, it fast tracks your progress, and while “blood flow restriction” may sound intimidating, the science is definitely sound.
It’s not even a new thing – the concept has been around for a few decades, and it’s used especially in physical rehabilitation and therapy.
And what we’re here to tell you is that there’s no reason why it can’t be popular for the regular guy or girl at the gym too.
What is it and how does it work?
Blood flow restriction training, or BFR, is basically when you trick your body into thinking it’s operating on a higher intensity than it actually is.
Using some type of tourniquet to occlude or close up a limb, you limit the amount of oxygenated blood reaching a working muscle. Fast twitch muscle fibers, responsible for speed, power, and strength, are activated. Lactate pools in the occluded working muscle and increases your body’s protein synthesis.
So performing low-load resistance training with occluded limbs give you the same results as performing high intensity workouts with heavy weights, and while this is especially helpful for those recovering from injury, again, there’s no reason why you can’t start doing it at the gym too.
But before you rush off to the gym with occluded limbs, it’s imperative you know how to do it right.
What to use?
There are a few things you can use to adequately restrict blood flow to your limbs – cuffs, bands, ace bandages, wraps, KAATSU equipment (to be used in conjunction with the patented KAATSU exercise method).
Our BFR bands have been designed specifically for the gym. They’re super easy to use, comfortable and won’t pinch when you pull to tighten it, and it’s made with premium elastic so it’s durable and won’t fray.
How to wear it right
Wrap the band around the upper arm or leg, and pull to tighten until you’re restricting blood flow to the limb. It’s important not to wrap it too tightly that you’re restricting too much blood flow, but still tight enough that it’s effective.
For your arms, you’ll want to aim for about a 6 out of 10 for the level of tightness, where 10 is as tight as you can go. For your legs, you’ll want to aim for a 7.
You may need to try it out a few times and adjust until you hit that level of tightness, and that’s no problem with our BFR bands as they’re really easy to put on and take off.
What to do
- Before wrapping up, perform a light warm-up such as stretching, walking, or light cycling for about 5 minutes. Choose a weight 20 to 40 percent of your 1 rep max, and perform 15 reps
- Then wrap up, and using the same weight 20 to 40 percent of your 1 rep max, perform 15 to 30 reps, and 3 or 4 sets of your regular workout activity
- Rest for 30 seconds in between sets
As with any exercise, you’ll want to perform these in perfect form. When you’re no longer able to do so, that means you’ve achieved volitional fatigue, and that’s how you’ll want to end the session for maximum gains.
A few more things to think about
Expect to feel sore after your first BFR session – and if you’re not, that means you may need to tighten your bands a little bit more.
There will be less wear and tear on your muscles and joints when you’re not dealing with as heavy weights as you otherwise would have to get to that level of swole.
Lastly, exercising in poor form opens you up to more risk of injury which could delay your fitness journey – or worse, completely derail it.
Check out our range of BFR bands, available in classic all black or 3 awesome camo options!
Safety is paramount, and it doesn’t hurt that you’ll look better with our gear on too.