The Quick and Dirty about Blood Flow Restriction Training.


First and foremost, lets define it...


Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) can be defined as using a pressurized cuff that's wrapped around a limb to partially limit blood flow. This is done during exercise to induce metabolic changes that promote increases in muscle size, strength, and endurance.





How it works...


To grow muscle two main factors are required - Mechanical Stress and Metabolic Stress. Mechanical stress typically requires the use of high loads, such as 60 - 80 % of a person's one repetition max, to induce muscle damage and create an anabolic response. This anabolic response results in an increase in muscle size and strength.


Metabolic stress, which is the aim of BFR, creates a hypoxic (lack of oxygen) environment. This type of muscular environment stimulates the release of potent hormones that result in muscular growth and subsequent increases in strength. Creating a hypoxic environment also limits the involvement of our slow-twitch, type I muscle fibers and more readily recruits our type II muscle fibers instead. Due to the "all or nothing" principle, high-intensity exercise is needed to recruit our type II muscles fibers, however, with BFR this can occur at lower exercise intensities.


Because most protocols with BFR are performed at lighter loads - 20 - 30% of 1 RM - there is minimal protein break down or harmful catabolic activity. Therefore an anabolic environment can occur without a lot of muscle damage or muscle soreness. This is a very good thing when trying to build muscle and get stronger.


Why would you choose one over the other...


You can actually use both in-conjunction and within same lifting session but there are many times where a person can't or wouldn't want to. The most practical application of this is in the rehab setting right after surgery or following a significant injury. Because this type of population typically has weight bearing, lifting, and range of motion limitations the ability to stimulate significant muscle growth at low intensities is hugely beneficial. In general, lifting at lower intensities is much more joint-friendly too, which can be applicable across many training situations.


How to program BFR into a training session...


Most of the research follows a 30/15/15/15 set/rep protocol and is primarily performed at the end of a training session. This looks like 30 reps with a 30-second rest break followed by 15 reps and a 30-second rest break and so on. If less than a total of 50 repetitions are performed decrease the weight, keep the weight the same if more than 50 reps but less than 75 reps are performed, and increase the weight if performing the 75 reps is too easy.


Where to go from here...


For general users or for those coming off an injury who wish to try BFR, a guided approach by a rehab professional is your best bet. As with everything, there are inherent risks and many other important variables (not covered here) to consider before trying BFR. If you are interested to learn more or want to work with us please email us at thevitalsix.life@gmail.com. Also please don't hesitate to ask about our complimentary 25-minute discovery session with a Doctor of Physical Therapy.





Private Policy | ©2019 Vitalsix, LLC. All Rights Reserved.