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.
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
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
We all know the feeling that tends to creep up on you when you're about to go to the gym as planned but realise that you just don’t feel like it today. All those heavy lifts suddenly seem a pretty bad deal compared to a chilled hour of Netflix on your sofa. You really want to stay in today, but your conscience is pricking you. You obviously know the consequences of skipping too many workouts, so what do you do to make sure you stick with your long-term goals for your training?
How your brain basically works
The main thing to realise is that you need to hack your brain or it'll most likely get the better of you. And in order to do this, you first need a little basic knowledge about the biology of your brain.
Actually, the modern human brain consists of three different layers or brains, and when it comes to classic struggles of conscience as the scenario mentioned above, particularly the second and third brains are of interest: The second brain is referred to as the limbic system, and this is where our emotions lie – in particular the ones that like things to be easy and fun. Because of this, humans are biologically wired to choose safe, well-known options and conserve energy. Consequently, Netflix seems a much better choice than sweating in the gym, muscles screaming and all.
However, around the limbic system we have another, more modern brain called neocortex. This brain is unique to primates and humans and is where our thinking lies. And this is also your strongest weapon when trying to beat the carefree impulse to eat that bag of crisps, stay in bed or watch Game of Thrones all day.
How to BEAT that brain of yours once and for all
Basically, there are three things you should remember in your daily struggle against your baser instincts:
1: Stop waiting for motivation.
Any goal will inevitably contain a certain amount of suffering or sacrifice along the way. Too many people postpone the things they want to do because they just don’t feel motivated. Your limbic system is whispering to you that skipping one workout wouldn’t do any harm to your long-term goals because the limbic system would rather do something much more fun. This is when you must hack your own brain by using your neocortex instead.
Simply remember the rational part of you that knows full well that skipping another workout will be bad for your long-term training goals and embrace the fact that in reality there's no such thing as motivation. You are more than capable of doing something even though you don’t feel like it – so do it. And build consistency like a pro.
2: Comfort yourself that with occlusion training you will be able to train with less weight and for a shorter period of time.
Your workout will be over before you know it, and then an hour of Netflix may be well-earned. Remember that the important thing is to build consistency: Instead of skipping a workout entirely, it's better to train for a shorter period of time.
Many BfR users also report a psychological rush that might best be described as elation or pride when seeing and feeling the unique pump which arises during occlusion workouts. No matter how you felt prior to your workout, you'll surely leave the gym feeling content and relaxed, with endorphins swimming around your body like happy little tadpoles.
3: Choose to do your workout at home.
If you can’t be bothered to make it to the gym, why not train in the comfort of your own home? It'll enable you to "trick" your limbic system by simply choosing an easier option. (Remember that your brain prefers things to be easy and comfortable). With the BfR products, this is all possible. As an example, the new BfR Pro Glute Builder enables you to perform a wide range of exercises for your legs and buttocks – and you don’t even need any weights.
Once you get the hang of catching yourself or hacking your own brain whenever it only wants to do what's easy, there's no stopping you. It is all a matter of understanding the psychology as well as the biology behind it and exploiting that knowledge to your own advantage on a daily basis. And the more you do it, the easier it'll become. Building the right mental state will enable you to take it to the next level!
Links for further inspiration:
The structure of your brain, read more here.
Mel Robbins on motivation, read more here.
Hope this got you all fired up!
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
In November 2016, we contributed to an online article about occlusion training on the Danish fitness website blivstor.dk. We're happy to do so since we're obviously enthusiastic about this new training method ourselves and want to share it with the world. The article is in Danish and can be found here.
BfR Professional on occlusion training
In some of our previous posts here on the BfR blog, we've outlined how practical blood flow restriction (BFR) or occlusion training works in simplified terms, what effects this training method can have and what results this might bring to your body.
In addition, we've gone through how to perform practical BFR training with our 4 tips on how to apply the correct pressure in another one of our blog posts recently, which you can check out here.
All our recommendations are made based on our own practical experience over the past two and a half years doing occlusion training in combination with studying the global scientific research within this topic, which is fortunately a body of work increasing continuously.
We view BFR training as a healthy complementary training method to your traditional training routine – not as a replacement for more heavy load oriented training as this too has its merits on improving your physical shape.
Simple and smart at the same time
The key is to be smart about your training and bring variation to the table using occlusion straps while being consistent over long periods of time. Preferably forever. This is basically why we've chosen "Simple concept, intelligent training" as our official slogan.
Take it to the next level with
Team BfR professional
When performing practical BFR training you need to adjust the pressure of your straps from a subjective standpoint. But we recommend following our tips below, which are based on up-to-date scientific research on the topic of BFR/occlusion training.
4 tips on how to apply the right pressure of your BfR Pro straps:
BfR Pro products versus alternatives?
The alternative to BFR training with straps is to apply air pressure controlled equipment such as the patented KAATSU machinery. However, this very expensive equipment is not easily accessible or affordable, which makes it nearly impossible for ordinary people to reap the benefits of this amazing training method. Moreover, the people using this machinery actually still use the 4 tips described here to check for correct pressure.
As with any type of physical activity, always remember to listen to your body and keep a “trial and error” mindset to find out what really works for you. Also check out the other posts on our blog here - they're packed with inspiration and tips just for you and your workout.
To your success!
Team BfR Professional