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What is Preparation BFR?

Blood Flow Restriction, a longstanding tool in athlete rehabilitation, has evolved into Performance BFR, offering a competitive edge in athletic performance. Performance BFR encompasses Preparation BFR, a technique now recognised for its role in enhancing pre-exercise warm-up routines due to its ability to maximise performance, reduce the risk of injury, and limit pain.

Athlete wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts and Training Tee whilst performing a stretch

Blood Flow Restriction, commonly known as BFR, is a method long employed by athletes and coaches to support rehabilitation within pro sports. In more recent years, the value of its application within a new category – Performance BFR – has seen it applied to boost athletic performance and gain competitive advantage. Performance BFR encapsulates a range of uses for BFR; Preparation BFR for use before exercise, BFR Training to increase the effects of a strength and conditioning programme, and Recovery BFR to speed up recovery after exercise. 


Due to its foundations in rehabilitation, the efficacy of BFR in expediting recovery has seen widespread adoption within the world of pro sports, with many clubs and athletes leveraging its potential to promote faster and more efficient recovery, in some cases stacked with other modalities to maximise athletes return to training or gameplay, whilst also reducing the risk of injury. 


As understanding of its benefits deepens, the role of BFR extends beyond recovery, offering a strategic advantage in preparing the body for exercise. Preparation BFR offers a range of benefits that can enhance an existing warm-up routine and is easy to implement.  


Athlete wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts and Training Tee whilst performing a stretch


So, what is Preparation BFR?   

Preparation BFR, or ischemic pre-conditioning (IPC), involves using BFR while performing pre-exercise warm-up and mobility routines to accelerate muscle warming and enhance tendon elasticity. It is becoming more commonly used in professional sports teams before exercise and before competition to help optimise performance and reduce injury risk.    


How does Preparation BFR work?   

By applying a strap around the upper arm(s) or leg(s) blood is locked in the muscles causing a build-up of pressure. Performing a typical warm-up routine like stretching or mobility with BFR applied will pump more blood into the working muscles, increasing the build-up of pressure. 


When the BFR straps are removed, pressure is released flushing used blood from the limbs. At the same time, fresh blood is forced into the structural tissues and muscles readying them for high-intensity exercise. Consequently, the muscles and tendons are warmed more effectively resulting in improved exercise performance and a lower risk of injury. Preparation BFR will improve the benefits of almost any existing warm-up exercise, for example, stretching, mobility, or stationary bike.  


In addition, BFR offers an analgesic, or pain-relieving effect, meaning a reduction in pain by up to 38% for those with joint issues or muscle soreness.  


Gloucester Rugby player wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts whilst performing a squat


How is it used in pro sports?   

Recent research performed in collaboration with Gloucester Rugby during their pre-season saw elite rugby players perform a 15-minute warm-up with and without BFR before carrying out performance testing to see if BFR had additive performance benefits. The addition of BFR revealed benefits across the board, with particularly impressive improvements seen for reps 7-10 of the prowler push, and in bar velocity during the squat, important metrics for performance.  


The study’s aims were drawn from the understanding brought from existing research that adding BFR to a warm-up can boost an athlete’s strength, power, and endurance while reducing their perceived exertion (RPE). The study also assessed the impact of heat exposure on the same performance measures, with and without BFR, with results currently under analysis.  


Preparation BFR has also become an integral part of the warm-up protocols at Martin Nugent Elite Performance, where athletes from all categories of sport train to maximise their performance. Preparation BFR enables the team there to microdose robustness training into their warm-up session whilst only creating minimal fatigue. In addition, they use BFR during mobility parts of their RAMP (raise, activate, mobilise, potentiate) warm-up to increase the all-important range of motion in their athletes. 


Athlete wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts whilst performing a stretch at Martin Nugent Elite Performance


How do you perform Preparation BFR? 

Warming up ahead of exercise with Preparation BFR is easy, just strap in to your Hytro BFR Training Tee or Performance Shorts and carry out your usual warm-up exercises. Hytro is easy to implement and doesn’t add any extra time to your existing regime. 

Ahead of a normal workout or training session, you can use Preparation BFR as a Pre-Activation tool. Simply strap in as tight as you can and do your usual warm-up like stretching, walking or gentle cycling for 3 sets of 3-5 minutes, taking a 2-minute break between sets to unstrap and let fresh blood flow in to warm your muscles and tendons faster. 

For those wanting to relive joint or tendon pain, strap in as tight as you can and do isometric holds, such as a wall sit for 5 sets of 30 seconds with a 30 seconds rest. This time, stay strapped throughout to feel the pain-relieving benefits. 

If you have a competition, Preparation BFR is ideal to add to your warm-up to prepare for the big event. Strap in as tight as you can in to your Hytro BFR Performance Shorts to carry out bodyweight exercises such as squats, or your Hytro Training Tee to use resistance bands and perform 4 sets of 15-20 reps, with a 30-second break between sets, staying strapped in throughout. 


Athlete wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts and Training Tee whilst performing a wall sit


The adaptability and effectiveness of Preparation BFR for enhancing pre-exercise regimes underscore its indispensable role for athletes and coaches seeking optimal warm-up strategies. Hytro BFR wearables provide a versatile solution, enabling BFR implementation anywhere, without necessitating specialised large equipment or environments. That’s why pro athletes and teams like Cam Norrie, St Helens RLC, Gloucester Rugby, Oxford United, Nebraska Huskers, Leeds Rhinos, Bristol City Women’s FC, Alpine F1, and Max Verstappen have all benefited from Hytro BFR. 


Learn more about Performance BFR and its health and performance benefits. 


Learn more

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