Blood Flow Restriction training? Like purposely choking your muscles? Nah, fam, not for me. This is an average response from people who have heard about this type of training. Most people are lazy like me and don’t like to bring accessories to the gym. Then there are others who, like Batman, carry everything they “could” possibly need with them. For the general public, almost all are unnecessary, but Blood Flow Restriction bands (BFR for short) may be for you! So sit back and let me hit you with some knowledge and what not.
What is it?
BFR is when you wear a band that slows down the rate blood returns to the heart through the veins. So your muscles will still be receiving blood but it will build up and stay in the muscle. This is why everyone gets the greatest pump of their lives when wearing these. The protocal is to wrap the bands proxima to the body. So, either top top of the arms or top of the legs. You work with weights that are 20-30% of your one rep max.
Is it safe?
So far, yes. The studies to date have shown it to be as safe as regular hypertrophy training. It just allows you to get to fatigue faster with less weight. Like most up-and-coming things, new research is always coming out that can change current opinions. So it’s best to always approach it with caution.
How it works:
Working out is a stressor. When your muscles are stressed they send a signal to the brain to change some things. So, when you’re working out you’re creating stressors that tell the body it needs to rebuild it. BFR increases the time the stressors stay in the muscle. This allows them to build up and send a stronger signal to the brain. One way this can work is by slowing down the rate of return of oxygen you’re depriving or pre-fatiguing the type I muscle fibers that depend on oxygen. This allows you to use those type II fibers much quicker.
Does it work?
Yes, it does. It works to the same degree a high intensity resistance training program would. Consider you do a drop set. Your muscle is pre-fatigued by the time you do your second set at a lower weight. This is the same concept as BFR Training. One study proves just this! Taking males with at least one year experience of lifting and entered them into an eight-week program. The results showed an increase muscle thickness in both the groups who used the BFR bands and who didn’t. So when it comes to the trained individual the results you will get will be similar to what you’d get in a high intensity resistance training program.
There are some cases in which you would benefit more from this type of training!
- Injury rehab: When coming off an injuring or your body will still need that stimulation to maintain size and strength. Handling heavy loads will put a lot of stress on the recovering joints but with BFR you’ll be able to get similar results with light loads.
- The elderly: Same concept as above. Heavy loads put a lot of stress on the joints. Lighter loads that can produce similar results would be recommended.
So what’s Up With It Billy?
Like most things, its best done in moderation. With BFR it’s recommended to do once a week with loads of 20-30% of your one rep max. You don’t need this in your programming unless you’re one of the special populations listed above. It’s just another tool that can be added to your resistance training program.