Over the last couple of years, blood flow restriction training has received a lot of positive attention as a result of the amazing increases to size & strength it offers. But many people are still in the dark about how BFR training works. Here are 5 key tips you must know when beginning BFR training.
Blood flow restriction training workouts are performed at intensities that are normally used during warm-up sets. As a result, it is suggested that you perform a light warm-up of cardio – such as walking or light cycling – followed by 15 unwrapped repetitions with the weight you will use for your first set of blood flow restriction training.
To perform blood flow restriction training, you will need a device to – you guessed it – restrict blood flow to the limb you wish to train. Whatever you choose, you need to be sure you are only restricting the return blood flow, rather than completely occluding (stopping) it.
There are a number of different suggestions of what to use floating around the internet; from knee wraps to over-sized elastic bands. However, to ensure as accurate a pressure as possible when performing practical BFR training, we suggest purpose designed solutions like our BfR Pro ARMS & BfR Pro LEGS straps.
Once you’ve chosen your bands, make sure you read about where to wrap & how tight in our full How to Wrap Correctly for Blood Flow Restriction Training guide.
This is possibly the biggest advantage of blood flow restriction training – massive increases in muscle size at much lower intensities of weight. Considerable research has been conducted on the optimum weight to lift whilst BFR training depending on the type of goal you are trying to achieve.
To work your slow-twitch fibres (those used for endurance) you should lift around 20-30% of your one-rep max (1RM). Meanwhile, some studies suggest to increase performance of your fast-twitch fibres (those for explosive power and strength) you should lift around 40% of your 1RM.
Whilst you are going to be lowering the intensity of weight you’re lifting; you’re going to be upping the intensity and volume of your workout. Blood flow restriction training uses higher metabolically demanding sets & reps with a much shorter rest period between (typically 30-45 seconds).
Aim for 15-30 repetitions for 4 sets with only 30 seconds rest between each set. Concentrate as you squeeze out each rep and feel the movements working the muscles. Squeezing out lifts and shorter rest periods continue to pump blood into your muscle, increases lactic acid build up & create significant growth.
BFR training results in greater fatigue to the muscle directly following the workout. Therefore, it’s important that you adjust your recovery accordingly but compared to heavy lifting then there is less muscle damage when doing low load BFR training.
Studies have shown that no increases in muscle damage continue longer than 24 hours after a BFR workout meaning it is safe to be performed every other day at most; but the best gains in muscle size and strength have been found performing 2-3 sessions of BFR per week.
Do be aware, however, if you are just starting blood flow restriction training or are unaccustomed to such high-repetition sets, you may need slightly longer to recover from such metabolically demanding training. To begin with, only use BFR training once or twice a week until you feel your muscles are recovering around the 24-hour mark.
Team BfR Professional
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