If you’ve been reading our recent blog entries, then you’d know about occlusion training, also known as blood-flow restriction training or BFR. If you haven’t yet and you don’t know what it is, quick background – occlusion training is when you wrap a band around your arm or leg and limit the flow of blood going back to your heart while performing load resistance exercises.
Performing these exercises with occluded muscles causes the muscles to get bigger, faster – and since you’ll only need to lift 20% to 40% of your 1 rep max, it’s also less stress on your tendons and joints, which is great for those recovering from injury, and for those wanting to avoid future injury (which is basically everyone).
Of course, before you get into it...
To get the best out of occlusion training, you have to do it correctly:
- Wrap the band on the upper arm or leg you want to train
- Wrap it along the narrowest area
- Do not occlude both arms and legs at the same time, focus only on arms OR legs per session
- For your arms, aim for a 6 out of 10 for the perceived level of tightness, where 10 is the band wrapped as tightly as possible
- For your legs, this number is 7 out of 10
- You may need to adjust it a few times before you hit 6 or 7
- If your extremities start to turn blue, or your arms or legs start to numb, stop immediately. The band is too tight, so take a quick break and readjust
You’ll only need to lift 20% to 40% of your 1 rep max, with higher reps of 15 to 30, and usual sets of 2 to 4. Lifting heavier than 40% does not get you better results on occlusion training.
Restricting blood-flow may sound intimidating, but when done right, it’s safe and very, very effective – try it with these 4 exercises below!
Barbell Good Morning
- Place a barbell on your shoulders, hands equal distance apart
- Stand feet hip-width apart
- Keep your back flat and core braced
- Push your hips back and lower your torso until it is nearly parallel to the floor
- Hold for a brief pause, then squeeze your glutes to come back up to the starting position
- Push through your heels on the ascent
- Stand with feet inside shoulder width, keep your heels flat
- Brace your abdominal muscles for stability
- Squat down by bending your knees, and grasp the bar just outside your knees using an overhand or mixed grip
- Keep your back in its natural arch and extend your hips
- Lift the bar by pushing upward with your legs from the knees
- Pull your shoulders back as much as possible without bending backward
- Bar should come to rest around thigh level
- Slowly lower the bar back to the floor with a reverse motion
Barbell Hip Thrust
Some gyms have a hip thruster bench – otherwise, any weightlifting bench will do for this exercise.
- First, place padding around the barbell to prevent it from digging into your hips. You can use a towel, or a squat pad for the best level of comfort
- Rest your upper back on the bench, with your feet planted on the ground
- Place the barbell across your hips
- Engage your core and abs, and drive your hips up
- Extend hips to the peak position where your pelvis is in a posterior pelvic tilt
- Hold for a brief pause, before lowering to the starting position
Incline Bench Press
- Position body on an incline bench, on a 30 to 45 degree angle
- Grab barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart
- Hold barbell above the upper third of your chest
- Extend arms upward and lock out elbows
- Slowly lower the bar straight down to your chest
- Hold for a brief pause, then press the bar back up in a straight line
Our BFR bands are available in 4 colours, click here to check them out.
Don’t forget to visit our shop for great-looking gym gear and accessories that will help you perform these exercises optimally!