Blood Flow Restriction Training {Don’t Let Pain Stop Your Gain}

blood flow restriction training
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Blood Flow Restriction Training – Don’t Let Pain Stop you from Working Out

If you are dealing with joint pain and your workouts are suffering as a result, then Blood Flow Restriction Training may be the answer to your problems. Blood flow restriction training can put you in the gym, or help you stay in the gym by helping you put less strain on your joints and thus continue your weight training regimen without any downtime.

I have been lifting weights for over 30 years. So you can imagine all the countless heavy reps and sets my body has endured. Trust me it’s not the muscles that suffer after so many years, it’s the joints.

There have been many times where I could either not left at all, or only with very light weights. And if you’re like me, not lifting at all is pretty much impossible. And lifting light weights is a waste of time if you’re trying to put on muscle. Well, unless of course, you’re using the BFR training bands, also known as occlusion training bands.

With occlusion training, I am now able to stay in the gym, lift with lighter weights to avoid pain, while getting the same benefits of lifting heavy. This can be great for those of you with elbow pain, or knee problems. Or if you’re like me and have back problems and can no longer perform heavy squats or presses, using BFR bands on your legs is quite effective.

What is Blood Flow Restriction Training?

In a nutshell, BFR training utilizes blood flow restriction bands which cause blood flow restriction or occlusion, causing blood to pool in the targeted muscle. This causes an extreme pump much like training with heavy weights while only using around 20 to 30% of your one rep max.

So for example, if a typical bicep routine for packing on some muscle involves 50 lb dumbbells, you would use 10 to 20 pounds to perform the exercise.

So How Do Occlusion Bands Work?

BFR bands are wrapped tightly around the top of each arm, or legs, or even above the calves with enough pressure to occlude blood flow from the veins but not the arteries. This enables the arteries to continue the flow of blood to the targeted limbs while you exercise, but the veins struggle to move the blood back out of the limbs and back to the heart. This results in more blood being pushed into the muscle than can be pushed back out for the duration of the exercise. Can you imagine the pump?

“Essentially we are creating an environment where blood goes to the muscle faster than it can escape.”

The science behind occlusion training is that it causes muscle growth similar to using heavy weights while using light weights. Here are the three ways BFR training with occlusion bands creates muscle growth.

3 Ways BFR Training Builds Muscle

  1. Much like lifting heavy weights, the muscles are filled with so much blood they are forced to grow thru cell swelling! This cell swelling, in turn, inhibits protein breakdown and stimulates protein synthesis.
  2. Also, very similar to lifting heavy weights, occlusion training recruits fast twitch fibers due to the high levels of blood being forced into the muscles due to low oxygen levels.
  3. When there are low levels of oxygen, higher levels of lactic acid are generated and can lead to increased protein synthesis.

Who Will Benefit from using BFR Training Bands?

Are you a candidate for occlusion training? The simple answer is yes. Everyone can benefit from occlusion training. Using BFR bands can help you immediately or long-term.

Immediate Benefits of Blood Flow Restriction Training:

Elbow Pain.
If you are experiencing elbow pain such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow then performing any variation of bicep or tricep routines can be excruciating. If you fall into this category, training with BFR bands will definitely benefit you.

Knee Pain. We all know that building bigger quads requires lifting heavy weights. However, with your occlusion training method, you can be back at training legs again without the heavy load.

Back Problems. Heavy barbell loads on our back and even heavy leg presses can keep us from doing any kind of leg training when suffering back problems. But by using occlusion training bands, you can be back in the gym again getting a great leg workout while using light weights.

Long-term Benefits of Occlusion Training:

Using BFR bands as an addition to your current workout routine can help you avoid many joint problems in the future and keep you in the gym. Or at least keep you productive.

Say for instance you are unable to make it to the gym due to an ice storm. Well, you probably don’t have 60 lb dumbbells lying around the house. But with BFR bands, all you need to save the day is a pair of 10 to 20 lb dumbbells.

And if you are like me and enjoy beating yourself up at the gym and don’t know when to quit, then you may want to throw in some extra blood flow restriction exercise routines instead. This will definitely help keep you from destroying your joints over time.

Recommended BFR Training Bands

pro-x bfr bandsPro-X BFR Bands
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super pump occlusion bandsSuperpump BFR StrapsArms CHECK PRICE
occlusion training bands bykottobyKottos BandsArms CHECK PRICE
quad wrap bfr bandsQuad Wrap BFR BandsLegs CHECK PRICE
bfr professional occlusion training bandsBfR ProfessionalLegs CHECK PRICE
lifting labs occlusion bandsLifting Labs BandsLegs CHECK PRICE

How to Use BFR Training Bands

Let’s start by addressing the different sizes of BFR Bands, followed by the recommended workout methodology.

What Size BFR Training Bands Should I Use?

So what size BFR bands should you be using? It is fairly simple. I have noticed from experience that for the best occlusion in the arms a 2-inch band to be very effective. Anything smaller is less effective when it comes to blood flow restriction. Furthermore, smaller bands tend to pinch the skin more than a wider BFR band.

For training legs, you could use a 2-inch band, however, a 3-inch band or higher would be a more effective choice this larger muscle group. If you don’t want to invest in two sets of bands, then definitely try the 2 inch first for both legs and arms. You can always buy another pair later.

BFR Training Methodology

Once you’ve decided on what size to use, it’s time to put them into action. Here are some basic instructions you can follow to get an effective occlusion training workout.

  • Load: use no more than 10 to 30% of your one rep max (1RM).
  • Repetitions: reps should be performed to muscle failure or at least 30 to 50 reps per set.
  • Training sets: 3 to 5 sets
  • Execution speed: 2-0-2-0
  • Short breaks between sets: 30-second max
  • Leave and tension between sets, and only remove after the exercise is completed.
  • Try using supersets when possible.

As you may have noticed, just because the weights are light does not mean this will be an easy workout. To the contrary. When performed correctly, training with the occlusion training method can be very intense, yet very satisfying.

Bottom Line

Anyone can benefit from blood flow restriction training. Whether you’re into high-intensity weight training as a professional athlete a bodybuilder, or an avid weightlifter who wants to grow some extra strength or build muscles, occlusion training is an excellent form of training to add to your current routine.

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, when it comes to weight training and bodybuilding, it is not how much you lift but rather how smart you lift.