Blood flow restriction training was originally performed using an inflatable cuff, known as a KAATSU band, that was linked to an electronic monitor. Unfortunately, KAATSU devices are expensive, complicated to use and not easily transportable.
It is possible to use knee wraps or a similar elastic bandage; however, it is difficult to achieve a correct and even pressure when using these solutions since they are often too long to handle (2+ meters).
Instead, we recommend using a purpose designed strap or band for BFR training. That way, you are able to more accurately control the pressure and easily replicate it in future workouts.
Moreover, you avoid having to deal with the unnecessary slack dangling around your arms or legs when doing your exercises which is often the case when using knee wraps.
Advocates for using Kaatsu equipment argue that you will never be able to find as accurate a pressure when using practical BFR training bands compared to Kaatsu equipment.
Even though that might be true, we believe it comes down to a matter of practicality and affordability. Just always remember to follow the appropriate guidelines and rather apply a lower pressure compared to a higher pressure, if you are in doubt.
The researchers within the field of BFR training now broadly agree that the correct placement for the band or strap is proximal to the torso meaning as close to the heart as possible.
For the upper body, place the strap just below your armpit, between your shoulder and bicep/triceps muscles. For the lower body, place the strap at the top of your thigh just below your glutes.
Note: if you are using knee wraps rather than a BfR Pro LEGS, make sure that when you wrap you do not end up wrapping the entire thigh – as this increases the risk of completely occluding the arteries. Wrap the band whilst trying to keep the pressure as even as possible as you add each layer.
For both your upper and lower body, it is suggested that you wrap to 4-7 out of 10 in tightness; with 10 being as tight as possible. You shouldn’t feel any numbness or tingling once you’ve applied the strap.
If you are not feeling and numbness or tingling but are still unsure whether you’ve wrapped too tight, you can easily check by doing a capillary refill test. Once you’ve applied your strap, press down on the palm of your hand with one finger until your skin turns white. If you have your straps applied correctly, you should see normal colour return in no more than 2 seconds.
When you are first starting with blood flow restriction training and not 100% sure on your pressures, it’s safer to be a little loose than too tight. Researchers wrapped subjects at either 40 or 80% tightness and measured the effect on muscle growth & strength.
Interesting, both pressures produced the same amount of gains. So wrapping a little lighter will still give you the gains you’re after without running the risk of complete arterial occlusion.
Team BfR Professional
This means that you might have started planning your great escape to warmer destinations in the cold winter months, if you live in Northern Europe or North America like we do.
Or maybe you actually love the snow and cold weather so you're planning to pack up the car and go skiing in the alps somewhere around Europe.
But maybe there’s one thing you’re still worried about… disrupted gym schedules, unhealthy food tempting you at every turn and not an adequately stocked gym anywhere in sight.
How could you possibly keep up a consistent routine and stay in shape whilst travelling?
Well, there is no need to fear any longer; so long as you don’t leave your workouts to chance. Simply grab our popular Traveller Pack with the BfR bands and Elastic Training Tube – designed to fit easily into your carry-on luggage allowing you to stay fit, wherever your travels take you.
Elastic resistance tubes have long been the preferred piece of equipment for any travel workout routine. They’re lightweight, incredibly easy to set-up & allow you to perform just about any strength training exercise.
By adding in blood flow restriction techniques into your resistance tube training, you can take your travelling workout to the next level. Here’s how.
Blood flow restriction training allows you to complete a high impact workout in an extremely short amount of time by rapidly increasing muscle protein synthesis. This type of training activates both type I and II muscle fibers even though the workout protocol for BFR training is light weights (20-50% of 1RM). Despite this fact, it has been proven time and time again that this method is very efficient for hypertrophy (building muscle).
Based on the latest scientific research within the field, we recommend working out with continuous pressure keeping the bands strapped on for a maximum of 10-15 minutes. Combine low-load BFR training with traditional heavy load strength training to maximise results.
With only around 20% of your one-rep max, BfR straps allow you to get the same results as if you were lifting 70% 1RM; making it the perfect companion to use alongside an elastic resistance tube workout.
Simply adjust the resistance of the elastic training tube by either moving further away from the place where the tube is mounted in pull/push (e.g. around a pole or pillar). Or in exercises where you stand on the tube then simply increase the width between your legs to adjust the strength making it tougher to pull against yourself.
Shorter Recovery Times:
Blood flow restriction training techniques also have much faster recovery times; meaning DOMs aren’t going to get in the way of enjoying your trip.
However, start with only 20% of what you believe to be your one-rep maximum and do one exercise with straps on while combining it with normal exercises without straps.
After a couple of weeks you're muscles will adapt to this new type of training and then you will be able to do more BFR exercises without it being too painful.
As a result, you’re able to get more from your resistance workout in less time; giving you more time to spend basking in the sun or hitting the slopes.
Check out our training video below for inspiration on how to use the Traveller Pack.
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
You’ve probably heard of blood flow restriction (BFR) training; or perhaps seen someone performing BFR exercises in the gym. It’s one of the latest & greatest muscle-building techniques; but chances are you only have a rough idea about how it works.
In this article we are going to dive deep into the specifics of what’s happening to your muscles when you perform blood flow restriction workouts; and how it helps you achieve your goals of increased size and strength.
Increases in muscle strength and size occur when our muscle fibres are put under stress and the body is required to respond, repairing the damaged areas by making then stronger and larger.
Broadly speaking we have two types of muscle fibres, creatively named by scientists as Type I and Type II fibres. Type I muscle fibres are called slow twitch muscle fibers and are built for endurance and help enable long-endurance feats such as distance running, while fast-twitch muscle fibers (Type II) fatigue faster but are used in powerful bursts of movements like sprinting. Once fatigued, Type II fibres are activated and these type II fibres provide strength & contribute most to the appearance & size of your muscle.
Once you’ve applied the band, your arteries will still be open to deliver blood to the muscle, but because you have restricted blood to your veins. The veins are the ones transporting blood back to your heart so by restricting them, it means that the blood can flow to the muscles but cannot leave. From this moment, the muscle will begin to facilitate growth by stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
Metabolic stress is identified as one of the three primary causes of muscle hypertrophy (others being muscular tension and muscle damage). The muscular stress signals the muscles to grow and by using low load training with BFR you can significantly optimise your workout compared to low load without BFR and similar levels of metabolic stress compared to high load/intensity workout (>60% of your 1RM).
The best thing about occlusion training is that you can achieve the results of high load training but without the heavy lifting which may be too strenuous for some individuals. However, with that said, research show that you achieve the most optimal performance by combining low load with BFR and heavy load without BFR training.
As the BFR straps have stopped the veins from moving blood out of the muscle and you begin to lift, you’re going to start feeling the muscular pressure rising significantly. As the muscles become more engorged, they increase in size - roughly 11.5-12% directly after a BFR workout - and place additional stress on the cellular walls.
As you perform your workout, you will begin to produce muscle metabolic by-products such as lactic acid and hydrogen ions. Due to the positioning & effect of the BFR bands, the lactic acid also becomes trapped in the muscle. Fortunately, these metabolic by-products are in-fact anabolic and assist in protein synthesis to stimulate muscle growth.
In other words, due to the workout with occlusion bands it causes the level of fluids to increase in the muscles which will increase cellular swelling response. This stress leads to a protective response, releasing anabolic hormones and causing the muscle to adapt and grow.
In this study, low-load BFR training to failure caused an increase in growth hormone 290x higher than resting levels, and approximately 4x higher than low-load training to failure without BFR. These are quite remarkable results which should be taken into consideration before deciding that BFR training is "not something for me".
The accumulation of these by-products limits the working muscles’ ability to use oxygen; and when a muscle is increasingly deprived of oxygen, the body’s rate of anabolic response increases.
By continuing to train whilst exposing the muscles to a build-up of lactic acid and low oxygen levels for extended periods of time, the Type I muscle fibres experience rapid fatigue. As a result, Type II fibres are forced to activate, enabling you to begin working on causing muscle damage to Type II fibres easier and faster.
This is not an exhaustive list of the mechanisms that BFR has on the human body when working out but should give you an overview of some of the essentials for moving ahead and trying it out for yourself in practice.
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