With all the popularity and hype which blood flow restriction (BFR) training is receiving for its accelerated development of both muscle strength and mass, you’ve probably heard the terms blood flow restriction training, occlusion training or KAATSU training floating around online or in your local gym.
If you’re still unsure exactly what BFR training is or how to perform it, then this post is for you.
For safety reasons, we need to first quickly address a few terminology issues.
You may see the terms blood flow restriction training, occlusion training and KAATSU training being used interchangeably – but that’s not strictly correct.
Occlusion training involves completely stopping the flow of blood into a part of the body. Occlusion training is extremely discouraged as it can result in damaged arteries, nerves, muscles, veins and an increase in risk of blood clots.
Whilst both blood flow restriction training and KAATSU training differ by only modifying blood flow rather than stopping it. KAATSU training uses expensive pneumatic tubes, cuffs and electronic monitors and requires a certified specialist to monitor you during your workout.
Blood flow restriction solutions, such as BfR Pro ARMS or LEGS, on the other hand, are simple to use and can easily be added to your workouts to maximise results. In other words, this is practical BFR training which means you adjust the pressure of the bands or straps yourself.
KAATSU training was originally discovered in the 1960’s in Japan by scientist Yoshiaki Sato. Since then, there have been now hundreds of scientific studies from Japan, Denmark, Norway, England and USA researching the effects of blood flow restriction training.
The research to date has found that BFR training promotes muscle hypertrophy and strength gains more effectively compared to traditional low load weight lifting (10-30% of 1RM). In some research it has even provided better results than heavy load weight lifting (60-85% of 1RM) but the best response has been proven to be by combining low load BFR training with high load strength training.
A simple Google Scholar search about blood flow restriction training will provide you with plenty of academic articles on the topic to browse through.
Blood flow restriction training is a technique using straps around the top of your limbs in order to restrict blood flow to the veins but not your arteries. By doing so, you are allowing blood to enter into the muscle but not letting it leave again. This results in a massive increase in cell swelling (or “pump”) and a "danger" response in the muscle cells triggering it to restructure and become larger.
BfR straps also work to trap lactic acid within the muscle, creating an additional anabolic response which turns on protein synthesis. This metabolic stress is believed to play an important role in the beneficial effect of BFR training. These metabolites are implicated in creating a hypertrophic response including lactate, inorganic phosphate, and hydrogen ions.
Read more about how muscle fibres react during blood flow restriction.
Read more about blood flow restriction training and muscle hypertrophy.
There have been numerous studies conducted into the benefits and efficacy of blood flow restriction training. Of interest to most people are the increased speeds with which muscle growth can be achieved.
A Danish study in 2012 researched whether BFR training could produce more efficient results than traditional resistance training (normally resulting in 15-25% muscle increase after 3 months). The study found that the subjects undergoing training with blood flow restriction achieved 35-40% muscle increase in only 3 weeks.
A similar study conducted with British elite rugby players in 2014 compared regular resistance training with the same training with added blood flow restriction. The study found that BFR training resulted in players’ squat strength, bench press, jump power and sprint time improving by 200% (Cook et al, 2014).
The short answer is: Yes, blood flow restriction training is safe; but there are a two key precautions you should take to avoid the potentially harmful effects which can come from accidently occluding your muscles or over training.
We’ve seen some YouTubers suggest using everything from knee wraps to bicycle inner tubes to restrict blood flow just to save a penny or two. But applying BfR straps correctly for accurate, consistent & even pressure on your muscles is easier said than done with make-shift straps (not to mention the risks you run of totally occluding the muscle!). Be sure to choose a quality-built product like the bands from BfR Pro which allow for easy application of strap to find the right tightness and quick release features, should you want to remove your straps in a hurry.
When performing a BFR workout, you are going to be dropping the weight considerably. Most blood flow restriction workouts utilise a weight of 20-40% of your one-rep max (1RM); or alternatively, around 40% of what you normally lift. You’ll also be focusing on a higher repetition range – around 15-30 reps per set – with short rest periods of around 30 seconds.
Take a look at our blood flow restriction workout suggestions for more ideas on how to incorporate BfR into your training. And don’t forget to share your personal success stories with the BfR family on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using @bfrpro and #bfrpro.
Team BfR Professional
Fancy looking at some seriously big muscles and well-proportioned bodies? Or maybe testing your own strength against that of the pros?
Humble as we are, we’re not talking about the BfR crew here – although we will be playing a part. On 31 March and 1 April, BfR Professional is to be found at Newcomers 2018 in Herning. In case you don’t know, this is the annual fitness fair for all upcoming athletes and bodybuilders in Denmark.
Try out our BfR Pro gear or ask us about training hacks
At BfR, we’ve dedicated every minute of our time to help you discover your potential and reach your personal fitness goals. And 2018 is no exception!
Last year's Newcomers proved a big success for us: At our stand, we had loads of curious people asking about what occlusion training - the latest fitness trend - could do for their workout. The extra bold ones even volunteered for our squats and biceps contests.
So don’t miss out on the chance to talk to us in person, learn about occlusion training (aka. BFR training) or try out our exclusive BfR Pro straps for arms or legs. Just like last year, you’ll get the chance to win some of our BFR products. Male or female, fit or fighting to be so – you can benefit from occlusion training. Simple concept, intelligent training, as we put it.
Bring a friend or two and go seek us out at Newcomers in Herning.
Go grab 2018 by the throat!
Team BfR Professional
Fancy having bigger or firmer arms in 2018? And looking for a bit of variation in your training routine? Well, read safely on then.
Training with a thick bar is one of the most effective ways to build muscular strength in your arms and upper body. BfR Professional now offers the latest alternative to expensive specialty bars: the original, blue Fat Gripz. This user-friendly exercise tool can be latched on to almost any barbell or dumbbell.
And by combining these non-slip rubber grips with our BfR Pro ARMS straps in our new Ultimate Arm Pack, we’ve made sure that you’re getting yourself a match made in heaven. Be prepared for the burn, though!
How does it work?
In short, Fat Gripz work by increasing the diameter of the bar. This enables you to up your arm building to extreme heights as using thicker handles leads to more muscle activation in your hands, arms and upper body. No wonder that professional athletes and Special Forces soldiers are all recommending this product.
The many merits of occlusion training/BFR training (as well as our top seller BfR Pro ARMS) have already been described in detail on our website and blog, so go check it out if you want to discover how easily and efficiently you can optimise your workout without having to compromise when it comes to output.
What if I’m new to BFR training?
Fear not! We understand that proper understanding of a complementary training method is pivotal to actually gaining from it. In order to release the full potential of your body, you need knowledge. Our Ultimate Arm Pack comes with a free BfR e-book where we’ve tried to cram in as many inspirational BFR exercises for arms as possible. It also includes general information about BFR training.
And remember: occlusion training is for everyone. Male, female, young, not so young, fit or going through rehabilitation… And with a brand new year at our hands, there’s no reason not to kickstart your workout routine.
BFR-training is easy to learn and builds on your body’s natural reaction pattern. Simple concept, intelligent training, as we say.
Anyway, what are you still doing here?! Go check out our Ultimate Arm Pack!
And don’t forget to leave a review or share your personal BfR success story with the rest of the BfR family.
Go grab 2018 by the throat!
Team BfR Professional
Curious for a look backstage at BfR Professional? Well, here’s your chance…
Almost one year ago, our New Year’s resolution was to make BfR Professional happen – for real. As founders of BfR, we (Lars and Martin) had already spent over one year meticulously planning and testing prototypes for our occlusion straps. Now a Kickstarter campaign starting in December 2016 would demonstrate to us whether there was any interest out there. After all, not that many people knew about blood flow restriction training then.
Off to a flying start
Fortunately, you guys were curious about this totally new way of working out – and about us. Our Kickstarter left us 125% funded, and in January and February 2017 we sent out our first products: the BfR Pro ARMS straps and the BfR Pro Elastic Training Tube. By then, our website and newsletter were also up and running. Things were quickly picking up speed, and in April we got our first interns in order to increase our efforts within sales and market research.
Bumpy road ahead?
Creating and launching new products can get rather addictive, and over the summer we decided to up our game and start developing the prototype for a digital product. Second generation BfR equipment, enabling you to take your training to the next level. We’d just received a grant from The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, so we knew we had the money as well as the vision.
However, no pain, no gain; things got a bit uphill for a while... Imagine dozens of meetings with potential business partners, redesigning packaging, insane amounts of coffee and equally insane hours. And ordering a thousand new product manuals, only to find out that you’ve managed to turn the text upside down, doesn’t exactly help! But the point of mistakes is that you learn from them. That’s always been our philosophy.
For example, we learned that always doing things at the very last minute isn’t a sensible idea. Unless you like high blood pressure, that is. After having to speed build a wooden promo stand minutes before a crowd of eager bodybuilders and athletes would come surging through the doors of the Newcomers 2017 in Herning, we’ve solemnly made each other a promise to at least try to be in good time.
The Newcomers fair turned out to be a huge success, though, and our digital dreams are well on their way, so basically we haven’t looked back. Another philosophy of ours is that success isn’t something you get – it’s something you create.
In the second part of 2017, we brought in graphics and communications interns because we wanted to boost the visual identity of BfR and give our communication an overhaul. After all, everybody wants to look and sound good, right?
At BfR, we’re always eager to improve not just our muscles but also our minds, so in August we attended Inspire Convention 2017 in Denmark where one of the world’s leading BFR researchers, Prof. Jeremy Loenneke, spoke. And in November we flew to Portugal to join Web Summit 2017 in order to show off our digital prototype and do some serious business dating.
On Black Friday we were lavishing discounts on you guys, which you generously rewarded. Now it’s December, and we’re finishing off 2017 with an Advent Calendar on Facebook and Instagram. So swing by our page and profile if you feel like getting your hands on our products, body boosting supplements and a unique Christmas discount.
One big BfR family
All in all, it’s been an amazing year, and although we’ve learned a few lessons, getting enthusiastic feedback from you guys makes it all worthwhile. Lots of exciting things are in the pipeline for 2018, probably including our digital BfR product, an app and more youtubing.
So, the humble wish we want to make for Christmas this year is that you will keep following us and share your personal BfR stories with us and the rest of the BfR family. We’re together on this one.
Thank you for making 2017 an awesome BfR year!
Lars and Martin
Team BfR Professional
On a gloomy November morning, at a truly ungodly time of day, three guys got on a plane in Billund Airport. They were sleepy and had barely had the time to grab some breakfast or do their hair. And then there was that slightly nervous sensation in their stomachs. All in all, not the best basis when going on a date.
Pleased to meet you, Web Summit
Fortunately, a case of the jitters tends to go away once you’re on a roll, and we’re proud to say that that was exactly what happened. You see, those three Danish guys were us: Lars and Martin, the BfR founders, and Peter, our new tech consultant. As announced in our November newsletter, we were headed for Lisbon, Portugal to attend the world’s largest tech summit as part of its ALPHA programme. The goal: to promote ourselves, do some sweet talking and make new acquaintances. (Basically, everything you do on a standard date, right?).
Being a small Danish start-up at an international summit boasting 60,000 participants can be a bit daunting, but people there proved very open and curious. The opening ceremony on Monday with top speakers like Stephen Hawking and Margrethe Vestager dazzled everybody.
Abu Dhabi living
On Tuesday, we were busy at our BfR Professional stand promoting our occlusion training equipment, getting feedback on our digital prototype for the next BfR generation and connecting with potential investors. (This was when we got a memorable offer to move our business to Abu Dhabi!).
Wednesday was just as busy and exciting: Various business people from China, Hungary and Chile requested meetings with us, and we even managed to get roped in for two interviews for Portuguese television. On Thursday, we wrapped up our summit adventure by going to heaps of workshops and talks to gather inspiration.
The end of single life?
Now we’re back in Aarhus, processing our experience. Was it worth the time and money for us to go to Web Summit 2017? Absolutely. We may be a young company, but we’ve come home with international inspiration as well as a number of potential sales leads and partners. And let’s face it: Everybody likes being liked. That’s what dating is all about. So, motivated as ever, we’re going to transform all of this into value for you.
Whether we end up pursuing high living in Abu Dhabi, sipping cocktails in rooftop bars, remains to be seen..! But for now, we're staying put here in Aarhus.
Team BfR Professional
Daily life at a startup business is always hectic, with numerous tasks to be done, and BfR is no different. Often this means that less urgent things like regular blog posts just have to join the queue. However, this ends now!
In the future we plan on upping our blogging a bit. Obviously, you can buy our products and get results from that alone, but we also want to provide you with extra value – knowledge and inspiration. Which is why you will now see blog posts coming out on a slightly more regular basis.
So stay tuned, you guys, for heaps of inspiring posts with the latest news, training manuals, interviews with the BfR users and much, much more!
Fit when travelling
Blogging isn’t the only thing we are currently upscaling: If you happen to open the magazine easyJet Traveller some time during October and November, you will be able to find our ad asking, “How do you stay fit while traveling?” EasyJet has seven million travellers per month and the easyJet Traveller comes in 210,000 copies. We want to help business people and others who travel frequently stay on top of their training as simply as possible in their hotel, hostel, AirBnB or wherever. For that reason, this ad offers a discount code on all BfR products. View the October edition of the easyJet magazine here.
Your time matters
You might say that we don’t just sell quality training equipment; we actually “sell time”. We know that your time is precious to you, so by providing you top of the line BfR gear, such as the Traveler Pack, enabling you to stay fit and healthy anywhere in just a matter of minutes, we are essentially giving you more time.
The Traveler Pack contains an elastic training tube, our BfR ARMS set and a training programme for arms, which will enable you to do your basic workout anywhere. Check out the easyJet magazine or our shop here for further information.
So basically, lots of exciting projects are in the pipeline, and we can’t wait to share it all with you. Stay tuned, and let us take your training to the next level.
To your success,
Team BfR Professional
We've all felt the frustration of struggling to gain a decent improvement in muscle mass. That's not to say you're trying to become the next Mr. Olympia; but we're all looking for a better physique and increased strength.
Seeing new or faster results from your workouts doesn't always mean you need to jump on each and every new bandwagon of workouts or supplements. Nor do you need to start lifting scary amounts of heavy weights whilst letting out a cry that belongs more in a horror film than it does the gym.
The real secret to supersizing your muscles quickly is damaging the muscle fibres in the most effective way possible, then ensuring you give them time to rest, heal and grow.
A better way to train
Traditionally, heavy weight training has been thought to be the best way to fatigue the muscles. However, studies have shown that so long as muscle failure occurs, individuals saw little difference between lifting heavy or light loads.
So, how can you work your muscles to failure with lighter weights? Through blood flow restriction training.
It's a technique that's used by a range of athletes (from professional cyclists to multiple world rugby teams) to quickly build muscle without the strain of heavy weights and long workouts.
Blood flow restriction training 101
BFR training involves using a blood flow restriction band around the muscle, ultimately depriving it of oxygen and speeding up metabolic street onset. Once your oxygen dependent slow twitch fibres are fatigued, you'll tap into your fast twitch fibres - which have the best potential for growth! Usually this would only be achievable with heavy loads performed explosively. But by using occlusion straps, one study from the Journal of Applied Physiology showed increased muscle using weights as low as 20% of 1 rep max.
For more information, check out our other blog posts or our website to learn the basics about blood flow restriction training and how to use our BfR Pro straps.
Take it to the next level!
Team BfR Professional
Here at BfR Professional we are proud to announce that we have received a grant from The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship (Fonden for Entreprenørskab). For the uninitiated, this is the Danish national knowledge centre for the development of entrepreneurship. It also allocates grants for students with great ideas in order to promote entrepreneurship as a career path.
Competition is fierce, which is why we are incredibly proud and excited about this grant. Those of you who may be entrepreneurs yourselves will know just how taxing startup life and building a business can be. However, receiving a stamp of approval like this makes it all worthwhile! Now we want to turn this into even more value for you.
Great application and we believe there is a huge potential in this niche. At the same time, it is nice to see how far you’ve taken this as a team already with the development process.
Feedback from the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship
World domination, here we come!
Oh, we have big plans… Here at BfR we constantly want to stay innovative and ahead, and one of the many things we are currently looking into is prototyping. We’ll give you a small hint: It has to do with digital. The time is right to take BfR and you to the next level. For the moment, we want to keep our cards close to our chest, but stay tuned for more information by signing up to our newsletter here or follow us on Instagram here.
On a related note, this grant has also enabled us to join Web Summit 2017 in Lisbon on November 6-9. This is the largest tech summit in the world as well as a hotspot for entrepreneurs as well as investors, and as part of the ALPHA programme we are keen to exhibit BfR while boosting our inspiration and network.
Come and meet us there or stay tuned to our blog for a report on the summit. We will also be posting on Facebook and Instagram during our time in Portugal. As always, we welcome your feedback and personal BfR stories. Simply use the @bfrpro or #bfrpro on Instagram and we promise that we will find you.
Team BfR Professional
In the spring of 2017, BfR Professional teamed up with two physiotherapist students focusing on the qualitative aspect of blood flow restriction training, and how people perceive the use of this still very new training method. Below you can read more about their interesting findings from their bachelor project.
By Højfeldt R. Jeanette, Jensen H. Pernille, BA. Physiotherapy, VIA University College Aarhus, Denmark.
Background and purpose
The project includes six participants. A physiotherapist, two patients with varying injuries and three self-trained subjects, one with an injury. In addition to using physiotherapists, all participants have been using blood flow restriction training in time periods spanning from three weeks to three months.
The analysed data can be grouped into topics with key findings:
Blood flow restriction training is versatile in its use and can, for instance, be used to max out in the last part of your session after high load training, or to prevent further pain from an injury during training. When tightening the band, some participants express a problem. They aren't sure whether the band is too tight or too loose, which is a common concern among the participants. This means that every individual has their own strategy to ensure the correct use, and therefore the tightening is self-perceived. Despite this issue, the band is reported easy to use:
Even though the band is tight, it gives the muscles room to expand during training.
A common experience is accelerated muscle atrophy compared to regular training. The participants observed visual changes in the veins, as these became more proinent and with a blue and red colour. This is an observation that the physiotherapist confirms. Another observation during training is a fast burning and a lactic feeling in the muscles. Several participants described blood flow restriction training as having a different feeling to its compared to regular training. The exhaustion was somehow different. One of the participants described the post experience like this:
Three out of six explain that blood flow restriction training has prevented pain from a current injury when training. One of them says that:
Back then, before I used the bands, I could barely do my exercises without feeling pain in my injury - I went home without working my muscles. It just hurt enormously.
The participants express great joy and satisfaction when using blood flow restriction training. Some mention that this kind of training is: fantastic, different, awesome, effective, a short and hard workout. In particular, they justify the relieving ability of the bands which causes the muscles to be stressed before the joint:
Just as annoying the soreness has been, it felt equally amazing - it's great because I feel alive.
Some of the participants report struggles with the low load training and motivation at the beginning:
At some points, it's demotivating not to have the usual kilos for someone who's used to training with a high load. But suddenly, I can take far more repetitions, and I came to notice that my legs become really tired, even without hurting the joints.
Among the participants, the feedback is an overall positive one concerning motivation for doing blood flow restriction training. For some, it was the applicability, for others, the competition and socialising.
The participants feel safe using blood flow restriction training. This is explained by the fact that they don't associate low load training with high risk of injury, despite tightening problems and a lack of knowledge:
I can go crazy while knowing I'm not going to break. I feel safe using it because I know the muscles get tired long before it ever gets dangerous for me.
Some of the participants report that the perception of safety is being created by the connection with the physiotherapist.
All participants found blood flow restriction training to be effective and said that it had a positive impact both physically and mentally. However, there is an issue with the subjective tightening of the bands, which requires more knowledge. The informants experienced a lactic and burning sensation, as well as an increased soreness, but this was not experienced as pain. This training method will suit both the elite and patients with injuries. However, consideration should be taken because blood flow restriction training can affect blood circulation.
Hope you enjoyed this read!
Team BfR Professional
In this short video pitch, the team behind BfR Professional explains in Danish who we are and what our mission is. (English translation written out below).
Often people think that blood flow restriction (BFR) training is only meant to be done by hardcore bodybuilders and fitness athletes, but that's far from the truth.
BFR training also enables people who aren't comfortable with or able to do heavy lifting to still obtain the same level of hypertrophy (muscle growth) as with traditional high-load workouts.
For example, it's extremely effective for the purpose of rehabilitation and injury prevention for persons of all ages (+18). Many women also enjoy using occlusion straps to build more strength and firmness in thighs and bottocks.
The growing popularity and use of BFR (or occlusion training, as it is also called) across the world is undeniable; however, we still come across many people who've never heard about this amazing training method.
Here at BfR Professional, we want to move your physique from A to B with our customised products as fast as possible in the most effective, gentle way by the use of occlusion training. This trending workout form is based on an old Japanese training method named “kaatsu" which means “increased pressure”.
Stay tuned and make sure to sign up for our inspirational newsletter (which often comes with special offers and discounts) in order to not miss out on anything from our world.
Translation of the video is done in English below - just scroll down a bit.
We are BfR Professional and have a question for you.
Did you know that if you strap our products onto your arms or legs, you can train faster and more effectively?
Are you tired of the never-ending training sessions and heavy weights or are you struggling with injuries as we've done ourselves for the past many years? Or do you just need a great alternative to your current training routine? Then we have the solution for you.
We want to move your physique from A to B as fast as possible in the most effective and gentle way by the use of occlusion training which is based on an old Japanese training method named “kaatsu”, which by the way means “increased pressure”.
It is simple and intelligent training for all so if you desire faster and more effective training sessions at home, while travelling or in the gym, then visit our website at www.bfrpro.com.
To your success,
Team BfR professional