Blood flow restriction (BFR) training has taken the strength and conditioning space by storm in recent years. It’s an effective, time-efficient alternative to traditional resistance training methods that can also be performed at home with minimal set-up time.
If you haven’t heard of BFR before, you’re probably wondering what exactly it is and whether you should try it out for yourself. A lot of people tend to shy away from anything that sounds even remotely challenging when first venturing into the world of strength and conditioning.
But trust us – once you get used to it and see the benefits, you won’t look back. Blood flow restriction training has all the benefits of classic resistance training with a few added bonuses.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about BFR training and how to use BFR bands.
What Is Blood Flow Restriction Training?
Blood flow restriction training (BFR) is a type of resistance training that involves applying BFR bands around the upper portion of your limbs to restrict blood flow to the muscles being worked. It’s an effective, time-efficient alternative to traditional resistance training methods that can also be performed at home with minimal set-up time.
You can use BFR to train any major muscle group, though it’s especially useful for large muscle groups like the legs, back, and chest.
BFR is a very efficient form of strength training since it doesn’t require the use of large weights to build muscle. You can lift 30-50% of your 1 Rep Max (RM) with BFR tourniquet and still see results. Plus, it only takes a few short weeks to build muscle with BFR bands. And the best part? It can be done at home with minimal set-up time.
How Does BFR Training Work?
When you train using blood flow restriction, you will use BFR bands that restrict blood flow to a specific area. This causes a lactic acid build-up in the area, leading to increased muscle swelling.
Muscle swelling is a sign that your muscles are growing. The muscles are building up pressure inside them because the blood flow is hindered. The pressure inside your muscles is what causes the pump that you feel after a BFR training session.
This pump is temporary and lasts anywhere from a few hours up to a couple of days. The pump helps the muscles to grow by increasing the amount of nutrients and oxygen that is transported to the muscles. The pressure also causes micro tears in the muscles. These micro-tears are what cause the muscles to grow when they are repaired.
BFR works best when combined with short, intense workouts with short rest periods. This allows the body to produce large amounts of lactic acid in a short amount of time and leads to stronger muscles.
Benefits of BFR
If you’re a beginner or don’t have a lot of time to spend in the gym, blood flow restriction training can be a great way to start building muscle. BFR allows people to work smaller muscles, like arms and shoulders, by restricting blood flow to larger muscles closer to the limb, which provides an intense “pump” in the smaller muscles.
BFR is good for people with joint issues like knee or back pain because it doesn’t put as much pressure on the joints and it doesn’t require the use of heavy weights that can be difficult for those with joint issues to lift.
BFR can be a great way for older people to get in shape and build some strength. BFR can also help to prevent atrophy, or muscle wasting, especially in injured people who may not be able to use certain muscles.
Using BFR Safely
Before starting any workout program, consult with a physician and make sure it’s right for you based on your health and fitness level. Always use proper form when exercising so you don’t risk injury, and try to practice with a friend or trainer if possible.