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Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training, or occlusion training, is a scientifically proven technique used to rapidly increase muscle size and strength and accelerate recovery. It involves applying a tightened strap to the proximal point of the arms or legs. This allows oxygenated blood to flow to the muscles but restricts the amount that then returns to the heart. As a result, blood remains in the muscle, which causes it to swell. Once the muscle swells, a whole host of physiological reactions occur that ultimately result in enhanced muscle size and strength – along with the greatest muscle pump of your life.
1. Oxygenated blood flows into the exercising muscle, where the pressure applied by the BFR strap restricts the return flow of now de-oxygenated blood to the body.
2. This creates a hypoxic environment (low oxygen), triggering production of lactic acid, and the body responds by producing the metabolites responsible for muscle growth increasing the body’s production of growth hormone.
3. Slow twitch fibres (requiring oxygen for energy) tire quicker, and consequentially, fast twitch fibres (working without oxygen) are recruited to help the muscle contract.
4. A unique benefit of BFR, under normal conditions, fast twitch fibres are reserved for high intensity exercise and explosive movements. With BFR, they are forced to contract and grow at low intensity.
5. Together, these reactions upregulate muscle protein synthesis and increase the body’s ability to hypertrophy, similar to conventional weightlifting while using much lighter loads.
6. Think of it like this; traditionally heavy weights worked fast twitch fibres, whilst light weights worked slow twitch fibres. But now, light weight work whilst wearing BFR will engage ALL of your muscle.
Research examining the safety of BFR exercise has concluded that it is a safe and novel method for training athletes, healthy persons, and potentially those individuals with various co-existing medical conditions.
Users must read and consider the safety checklist and warnings below before using our product.
The results speak for themselves. They can be significant, and they can be fast. In just two weeks notable increases can be seen in muscle size, strength and endurance thanks to adaptations within the body that come directly from BFR training.
BFR training restricts deoxygenated blood from flowing out of a muscle. This creates a hypoxic state within the muscle that increases the contractions of fast glycolytic muscle fibres, also known as Type IIX. When these contract under a condition of blood flow restriction, they produce lactic acid and other metabolites that, given the pooled blood and the stress the muscle comes under, produces the conditions necessary for increased release of growth hormone and muscle protein synthesis, the central regulator for muscle growth. BFR training therefore gives all of the advantages of working at high intensity with high loads while actually working at much reduced intensities. When used in conjunction with resistant exercise, BFR produces exceptional results.
Muscle size increases as a result of the growth hormone and extra protein synthesis that comes about from BFR training. It is therefore a powerful stimulus that adds the biggest bang for buck to any workout you choose.
Although the strap is placed just above the bicep, gains can also be seen in nonrestricted muscle areas such as the shoulders and chest. This is because of the systemic effect of BFR. When blood flow is restricted in the strapped limbs, the body’s reaction is to produce metabolites and hormones within the muscle. When the straps are released, these are then flushed around the entire body, driving gains in areas such as the shoulders and chest. These areas also benefit while the strapped limbs are restricted. This is because the body realises that the strapped limbs are extremely fatigued and so increases muscle fibre recruitment in non-strapped areas. An example of this is the pectoral muscles being recruited during a bench press due to tricep fatigue from BFR.
Our BFR training programmes are a great starting point for those using BFR.
The benefits are widespread. By initiating a muscular response usually seen only from high intensity or resistance training, BFR increases muscle size, strength and endurance by working at low intensities, such as 20-30% one rep max. The training can be used for muscular hypertrophy, enhanced endurance, accelerated recovery, or to aid clinical rehabilitation and recovery.
Research has proven that BFR is a safe and effective training method. Users must read the warnings and know the correct techniques before starting BFR training. More information can be found in our BFR safety section.
Now you should have a good understanding of what BFR is and how it can help you achieve your fitness goals.
If you are ready to strap in, check out our range of Performance TechWear.
Not quite ready? No problem, find out more about BFR training in these articles;
– Try BFR for Ultimate Rugby Performance
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