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
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
Looking for inspiration for your next gym session?
You came to the right place! We've interviewed Romanian fitness champion Adi Moldovan about his exercise routine. He has been a regular at the gym for the last six years, but he actually entered the sports world at the age of three with gymnastics continuing with football and later martial arts for six years.
What is your exercise routine?*
Hammer curls with BfR Pro ARMS - set 1: 30 reps, set 2: 25 reps, set 3: 20 reps, set 4: 15 reps / 30 seconds break between sets.
Lying barbell triceps extension with BfR Pro ARMS - 4 sets of 20 reps.
Leg press calf raises with BfR Pro ARMS - 5 sets of 12 reps.
Two Arm High cable curls with BfR Pro ARMS - 4 sets of 15 reps.
Rope push downs with BfR Pro ARMS - set 1: 30 reps, set 2: 25 reps, set 3: 20 reps, set 4: 15 reps.
Standing calf raises with BfR Pro ARMS - 4 sets of 15 reps.
What tips do you have for those who want to start going to the gym?
To be persistent and remember that the results won't always come fast. You have to know that you have to work hard, so a lot of work and patience are necessary.
Also, it's a lifestyle; you can't just go to the gym and eat right for a month and then stop. To move forward and stay ahead you need a plan.
It's necessary to have a plan, otherwise you'll fail fast. At the same time, you also have to ask for help, always, because you never know it all. You always have to search for information.
Who did you ask for help?
My good friend and mentor Mihai that had been going to the gym for a long time. He helped me a lot with everything, so another thing to bear in mind is that you should always try to have someone to push you forward in your training sessions. It's such a crucial thing which I can't stress enough. Additionally, I've found a lot of information on the Internet.
Continuously ask yourself, “how do I get better and smarter”, e.g. which exercises would be better and how to execute those exercises.
Do you have any examples of websites that you read often?
I don't have any website that I visit often, but I'm looking at famous persons in the bodybuilding industry and I'm trying to follow their advice and do their exercises but adjusted for my needs.
How did you come across blood flow restriction (BFR) training?
I saw a guy called Anders at the gym using them and it caught my attention, and then he let me try his straps from BfR Professional. I saw a big difference in the pump, and that was something I'd always been looking for.
Why do you like using BfR Pro ARMS in your training routine?
Especially for the pump that you get during training! You always have to maintain that, and BfR Pro ARMS help in achieving this in a great way.
Are YOU our next fitness feature?
If you would like to be featured on our blog as our next "Meet the Users" individual and share your training routine and personal BfR success stories with the rest of the BfR family, please don't hesitate to reach out to us! Either via e-mail at email@example.com or on our Facebook page.
*Please note: This workout routine is only an example. You should adjust it according to your personal needs and current physical shape.
Take it to the next level with
Team BfR Professional
Here at BfR, we're proud to announce that the widely read Danish fitness magazine Aktiv Træning has tested our BfR Pro ARMS, which are our customised straps for blood flow restriction (BFR) training, and has put together a product review for all of their many readers.
Aktiv Træning is a fitness and health magazine known for guiding readers to a healthy lifestyle with everything from fitness and running to proper dieting and sleep in order to optimise your physical shape. At the same time, Aktiv Træning aims to test and review the best products on the market, and in their April issue of 2017 our BfR Pro ARMS was put to the test and received 4.5/6 stars.
The review in English
Obviously, the review is in Danish (see below), but we're keen to share so we've translated it into English for all of you guys to read here:
Occlusion training is a new trend in the strength training world. Many are using knee wraps for this training method, but the special occlusion bands here are clearly a more practical choice. Plastic buckle, velcro closing and anti-slip material make it super easy to strap on, close it and tighten it. Apart for the edges of the velcro which can be a little sharp, they are comfortable during training. It is nice that the whole band is sitting closely to the arm, and with a width of just 3 cm, you avoid the band disturbing the muscle when for example you are doing biceps curls.
A simple and relatively cheap solution for occlusion training. The straps are easy to handle, and without problems you get the pressure that you want applied to your arm muscle.
A positive experience
The product received 4.5 stars out of 6, which means that it’s a really good product according to their ranking system. As regards their comment about the Velcro pinching a bit, we suggest using a T-shirt or similar under the straps if you feel like it's bothering you.
If this positive review makes you curious, go check out our selection of quality equipment for BFR training now!
Below is the original review in Danish:
We hope this has piqued your interest! If so, swing by our store and let us help you.
All the best,
Team BfR Professional
Since we launched BfR Professional using the world’s largest crowdfunding platform called Kickstarter to distribute our premium product for blood flow restriction (BFR)/occlusion/KAATSU training, we’ve been asked quite a few times why you can’t just use a rope or regular elastic band when performing this new training hack?
Of course, it all comes down to preferences, but we've tried a lot of different alternatives ourselves over the past two years, and the conclusion is that the design and comfort of the strap/band/cuff absolutely matter! In fact, our British BfR Pro Ambassador and guest blogger James Ruckley has been through the same trying to find the perfect occlusion straps; read more about his experience here).
Below are some of the things we have taken into consideration as we designed the BfR Pro ARMS for ourselves and you…
As BFR training becomes increasingly popular within fitness and for rehabilitation, more products will naturally hit the market, but the quality of them already varies greatly. Most of the current products come with a “one-size fits all” mentality, which may be just fine for you. Indeed, our own BfR Pro LEGS is a one-size product as this made sense to us in the case of leg training.
However, we decided to focus on offering a customised arms product in different sizes to match the needs of the individual, and this is how our top teller BfR Pro ARMS came to be. This makes it not only more comfortable to wear but also a lot nicer to look at from an aesthetic point of view without half of the band flapping around your arm as you work out. (If you're as vain as we are from time to time, you'll surely appreciate this!).
Finding the right size for you
Our website has a size guide as well as instructions on how to measure your upper arm correctly in order to pick the right strap size. In short, you should measure the area below your shoulder but above your biceps and triceps – not the area around the middle of your biceps where the circumference is naturally larger.
You may ask, “I’m between two different sizes, so which one should I choose?” We always recommend going for the larger one since it's better to apply a lower pressure than too hard of a pressure which can have a negative effect on your muscle-building and in worst cases cause an injury. Another advantage is that picking the larger of the two will allow you to grow - and believe us, you will!
One of the major challenges using knee wraps or other one-size occlusion bands can be to strap it on in the first place without the assistance of a buddy since this kind of product is typically long and unhandy.
And although you may be the type of person who welcomes any opportunity to interact with your fellow gym-goers, these makeshift bands may often also cause an uneven pressure to be applied to the muscle which may decrease the actual physiological effect of your training.
We solved this by designing a product that you can strap on and release with one hand making it even more simple to use leaving you to focus on finding and applying the right pressure for you.
In doubt about how to find the correct pressure? Read this post with 4 easy tips that will enable you to take your workout to the next level.
Anti-slip technology: Don't worry, we got you
The white anti-slip stripes embedded in the specialised elastic band support the single-handed fitting as they grab on to your skin once you tighten the strap around your arm.
The anti-slip technology eases the use of this new and intelligent training method considerably. After all, BFR training should propel your workout forward and challenge you to break free of your routine - not be the cause of frustration because you can't even strap on the product to begin with.
Width; wider is not always better
Unlike most other products available for occlusion training on your upper body, we decided to create our strap with a width of 3 cm. According to the latest scientific research done on the practical application of BFR training, it's recommended that the straps used on your upper body extremities (meaning your arms) should be between 3-5 cm wide.
After hours of testing prototypes ourselves in the gym and outside doing functional training, we found that applying a wider strap was less comfortable and often annoying, especially to your biceps during sets.
Lastly, to see our BfR Pro ARMS straps in action, check out our 3 min Kickstarter campaign video here.
We hope you find this an inspiring read! If you've got any questions, don't hesitate to hit us up via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
All the best,
Team BfR Professional