What Is BFR Training?
Blood flow restriction training, also known as occlusion training is a type of exercise where you isolate and/or limit the blood flow to certain limbs (specifically the arms or legs) during a workout.
BFR training uses the application of bands like tourniquets to limit this blood flow.
Using light weights and high repetitions, along with short resting periods between sets and you’ll get the pump of a lifetime and instantly notice the BFR training taking effect!
How Do You Isolate The Limb?
Isolating the limb in BFR training is simple.
An individual will place bands on their upper arms, legs, calves, or forearms and tighten the bands.
Once tightened, the individual will start working out the targeted area with light weights and pump their muscles full of blood.
How Heavy Should You Go?
Not heavy at all. Occlusion training only works effectively with really light weights.
We’re talking only 20-30% of your 1RM.
If you can only bench 185 pounds as your 1RM, this means benching 40-55 pounds for BFR Training.
Any heavier and you won’t reap the gains you desire from this type of training.
BFR training is not effective with heavy weight!
How Many Sets And Reps?
Since we’re using really light weights, it’s important that you aim for a higher rep range.
Shoot for around 15-30 reps for EACH set. Any less than 15 reps and the weight is too heavy.
I also recommend shooting for around 4-6 sets per muscle group or exercise.
How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?
Short resting periods is the way to go.
You should rest around 30 seconds between sets.
That’s really short and you might not be accustomed to it.
If your gym has a clock counting down the time in seconds, use it. If not, use a stopwatch or your phone to count every 30 seconds between sets.
The last couple of sets may be difficult to complete. 30 seconds might not be enough rest, so I sometimes boost the resting time up to 45 seconds.
This is usually when I’m fatigued and on my 4th, 5th, or 6th set.
How Tight Should I Wrap The Bands Around My Limbs?
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being super tight, aim for 7.
You want the bands to be tight but not so tight that you feel your arms tingling or you’re hurting yourself.
The goal of BFR training is to wrap tight enough so that the blood from traveling from your arteries can enter your limbs but not leave the muscle.
What Muscles Can I Work?
The possibilities are endless.
While BFR bands are only placed on your limbs for training, most people think you can only work your arms and legs.
Truth is you can actually work your chest, back, glutes, and other major body parts just like you would for normal training.
One study actually shows that implementing BFR training on the bench press will actually increase the strength and muscle gains in both your chest and triceps, even though you’re only restricting the blood flow in your arms.
This may be because your triceps tire out quicker with BFR training which increases activation in your chest.
The same applies for back exercises like the barbell row. Your biceps tire out quicker and increase the muscles worked in your back!
For the squat, it also increases the activation in your glutes and hamstrings.
So don’t just think that BFR training works only your arms and legs! Use it for all the major muscle groups!
Is It Safe?
Yes, BFR training is known to be safe.
Yet, there are individuals that worry restricting blood flow can put you at risk if you have high blood pressure, heart issues, or blood clotting.
As always, it’s important to consult with your medical doctor, especially if you have any cardiovascular issues.
I would also consider speaking with a sports-educated doctor or cardiologist on the issue as well.
Regardless, studies do show that BFR training is 100% safe.
“Research examining BFR training with healthy individuals and older adults with heart disease found no change in blood markers for thrombin generation or intravascular clot formation.”
Is BFR Training Effective?
Studies show that even though you’re using super light weights, it has the same effect on hypertrophy gains and nearly the same on strength gains.
If your main goal is only to build strength, studies show that high-intensity training (heavy weights) is still more effective.
Another study showed that by placing BFR bands on your upper quadriceps and JUST WALKING, increased muscle size and strength in the subjects’ legs after a few weeks.
Bottom line: BFR training increases muscle mass and strength gains very effectively!
How Often Should I Implement BFR Training?
2-3 days a week is perfect. Since BFR training uses light weights your recovery time won’t be as long. I would say you can implement occlusion training every other day!
Who Is BFR Training Good For?
Everyone can benefit from this type of training!
But, if there’s anyone that should definitely try BFR training, it’s those that are injured.
If you’re suffering from an injury, lifting heavy weights is a no-no. BFR training is your saving grace since studies show it’s almost as effective as training with heavy weights and doesn’t damage muscle fibers.
This Seems Revolutionary, Why Is It So Good?
Occlusion training is amazing because it doesn’t require a lot of time to complete and the results are incredible!
With super short rest periods and light weights, it takes no more than 5 minutes to get an incredible quality workout in that has nearly the same effects as high-intensity training!
You don’t need to use heavy weights. Heavier weights are correlated with more injuries, pressure on your joints, and compression of your spine.
Avoid the stress of heavy weights and implement blood flow restriction instead!
Should I give up my normal training for BFR Training?
You don’t have to!
BFR training is amazing but you can still lose the bands and go back to lifting heavy to moderate-heavy weights!
In fact, using BFR training as a way to take a break from normal training and/or breaking a plateau.
I like to do BFR training at least once a month to take a break from my normal routine or implement it when I know I don’t have much time to train.