How would you like to build muscle mass with light weight workouts and still get the same results as if you were lifting heavy weights? This option would offer joint friendly strength training for anyone suffering from joint pain when lifting weights.
Most bodybuilders would disagree that you can build muscle with light weight workouts. And I would absolutely agree. That is until I heard of BFR training. BFR training and the use of BFR bands enable you to strength train using light weights while still getting the same benefits of heavy weight lifting. But without the negative side effects such as injuries or joint pain.
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 back 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.
Do you suffer from joint pain lifting weights? Then you must try BFR Joint Friendly strength training…
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.
- Less Pain with Light Weight Workouts
- Top Recommended BFR Training Bands
- What is Blood Flow Restriction Training?
- How Do Occlusion Bands Work?
- 3 Ways BFR Training Builds Muscle with Light Weight Workouts
- Joint Friendly Strength Training: Who Will Benefit from using BFR Training Bands?
- How to Use BFR Training Bands to Build Muscle with Light Weight Training
- Light Weight Workouts Training Methodology
- Bottom Line
Less Pain with Light Weight Workouts
There have been many times where I would be in so much pain I could either not left at all, or only with very light weights. And if you’re like me, no lifting at all is pretty not an option. 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. Furthermore, 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 also 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 muscle 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. Trust me when I say, this is a great way to build muscle with light weights.
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 with Light Weight Workouts
- Much like lifting heavy weights, the muscles are filled with so much blood they are forced to grow through cell swelling! This cell swelling, in turn, inhibits protein breakdown and stimulates protein synthesis.
- Also, very similar to lifting heavy weights, occlusion training recruits fast-twitch fibers due to the high level of blood being forced into the muscles due to low oxygen levels.
- When there are low levels of oxygen, higher levels of lactic acid are generated and can lead to increased protein synthesis.
Joint Friendly Strength Training: 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 and long-term.
Immediate Benefits of Blood Flow Restriction Training:
If you are experiencing elbow pain such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow then performing any variation of bicep or triceps 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 pain lifting weights 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.
How to Use BFR Training Bands to Build Muscle with Light Weight Training
Let’s start by addressing the different sizes of BFR Bands, followed by the recommended workout methodology.
What Size BFR Training Band 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 for this larger muscle group. If you don’t want to invest in two sets of bands, then definitely try the 2 inches first for both legs and arms. You can always buy another pair later.
Light Weight Workouts 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 joint friendly 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.
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.
As we learned in this article, BFR training is especially good for joint sufferers. BFR Bands are perfect for joint friendly strength training, both at home or the gym.
Not only will these bands help you avoid joint pain lifting weights, but they are very practical for working out at home as they do not require heavy weights. All it takes is a few dumbbells to build muscle with light weight workouts making this ideal for anyone who wants to workout at home without all the expensive heavy weights.
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.
With over 30 years of experience in strength training and fitness, Mark LaRue is the founder of Fitness Mastered, a blog to help educate fitness enthusiasts of all fitness levels, ages, and gender. We write topics that range from weight training tips and exercise routines to home workout machine and fitness related product reviews, to name a few.