Blood Flow Restriction training (BFR), is a training method where you wrap your arms or legs with an elastic band to let blood in but restrict the blood from flowing out of your appendages.
The idea is that BRF floods your muscles with blood, and blood brings oxygen and nutrients to fuel the muscle to train harder.
Harder training increases hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Also, since blood can flow in but not out, there’s a build up of lactic acid in the muscles.
Lactic acid breaks down muscles, causing ‘damage to the cells and causes hypertrophy.
Having a higher concentration of lactic acid causes more muscle ‘damage’ and thus more muscle growth.
In theory, BFR training could produce results, but does Blood flow restriction training actually work?
Understanding how to perform BFR gives you a glimpse on how it might.
How to Perform Blood Flow Restriction Training
Wrap tightens is key here. Be sure not to wrap the bands to tightly around your arms if you feel tingling in your arms fingers or hands the band is too tight.
You want enough pressure to reduce the blood flow from the smaller blood vessels and capillaries but allow the artery to still pump blood freely. The main artery is located along your humerus the upper arm inside of your arm just wear your armpit is.
If you feel a tingling sensation at any time while your arms are wrapped with the band you need to loose in the band you want to just hide enough to where it’s not tingling.
BFR training can be done on the arms or legs be done for the four arms and wrap just above the elbow to be done for the upper arms and triceps and biceps do you wrap it at shoulder level just of the armpit we are up to next year torso be done for your legs and wrap 2/3 up your thigh or can be done for the calves you could wrap just above the knee just below the knee for calves.
You can use elastic resistants bands or ace bandages. The resistance bands I used are what people use to strength their legs. I just folded the band in half and rolled it up my arm. It fit perfectly.
Anything will work but ace bandages are probably your best bet because they fit any size arm or leg. It’s best to have something with a little ‘give’ because your arms or legs will be growing in size during your workout due to the increased blood flow.
My Experience with Blood Flow Restriction Training
When I tried Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training, I noticed a difference right away.
As soon as I wrapped my arms, I grabbed some light dumbbells and started curling.
After just a few reps my arms felt pumped up. They felt ‘full’. My skin was tight around my muscles and I could defiantly feel the burn with each set.
Finding the right ‘tightness’ is important. Too tight and you can do serious damage. Like permanently kill nerves, cells and blood vessels. If, it’s too loose, you will not restrict the blood enough which defeats the purpose.
You want a happy medium of tightness, where the bands are wrapped just tight enough to not cause any tingling sensation in your arms. So what I did was wrap until my arms tingled, then loosed a little bit at a time until the tingling sensation stopped.
My arm workout for testing out BFR was as follows:
- Spider Curls 5×8-20
- French Press 5×8-20
- Dumbbell Curls 4×6-10
- Overhead Dumbbell Press 4×6-10
- Tricep Pushdown 4×6-12
- Reverse Drag Curl 4×10
To perform BFR training, you wrap your appendages with a arms to restrict the blood from flowing out of your muscles. You want to let the blood in but restrict its flow out.
After this workout my arms felt very fatigued. But not so much that I couldn’t type type. But they definitely felt like they got a great workout from deep within my arms.
Recovery was about the same. It might have taken a little longer than usual to recover, which leads me to believe I did intact get a more intense workout with BRF.
Although this may not be a significant difference. Having your muscles be sore for an extra day is a sign that the workout was effective. So, I can see how one might reason the Blood Flow Restriction training could create superior results compared to regular training.
The Benefits of Blood Flow Restriction Training
The benefits of Blood Flow Restriction training are speculative from my experience. There are many people who swear by the benefits of BFR that it can build muscle faster than regular training. Which could be true given how BFR training works. The benefits of blood flow restriction are:
Increased Muscle Mass
More hypertrophy caused by the muscle swelling and increased lactic acid concentration. Also BFR allows for much harder feeling muscle contractions.
Better Mind-Muscle Connection
Due to increased feeling and sensation in your muscles.
Reduce Training Frequency
Some people might say you get faster recovery with Blood flow restriction. This is debatable, intact I think recovery takes longer with BFR training since you cause created muscle cell damage that takes an extended time to repair.
So, actually the benefit here is that you can reduce training frequency and still get the same results. Meaning you get better results with fewer workouts.
Shake Up the Routine
Blood flow restriction training is great for you if you want to shake up the boring old routine and try something new.
Does Blood Flow Restriction Training Actually Work?
Research and the science supports that might work to increase hypertrophy more than just a regular work out it’s best to try it out for yourself and see.
My experience with blood flow restriction training was over all inconclusive if you want a definite answer if it works better than regular training or not.
I can tell you that I definitely did get a good pump the workout felt great. the next day I wasn’t any more sore than if I had performed a workout of equal intensity without the bands wrapped around my arms without the blood flow restriction. However, my muscle soreness did last longer than usual. It’s uncommon for my arms to be sore for more than a day or two, even with the most intense workouts. In this case, after doing blood flow restriction training, my arms were sore for 3 days.
I can see how Blood flow restriction training can be the ultimate form of Pump Training.
I think it could work but it’s effects would be more noticeable over time. For example, after 3 months of training solely with the BFR method, you might have more muscle gains than if you trained conventionally.