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
BFR training is a long-established training protocol combining the closing off a blood vessel and intense high rep training to alter the physiological environment in which a muscle is working. BFR is known by many names including occlusion training, vascular reduction (VR) and KAATSU training, so named by its inventor, Japanese Yoshiaki Sato.
It involves obstructing the venous system by using a form of compression to partially close a vein, reducing venous blood return to the heart altering the vascular system and bio-physiological chemistry of the muscles. BFR training should never impede the artery.
Tools for occlusion/BFR
The most common forms of compression used include knee wraps and KAATSU Cuffs, with the latter being considerably more scientific but expensive, or even the use of cut floss band to save on costs. The latter is however very uncomfortable, difficult to use and almost impossible to take off when your arms are weak and shivering. A fate I faced many times until BfR Professional came along and introduced their new velcro-based straps.
Easy to put on, comfortable and durable, the BfR Pro products allow full range of movement without shifting or impeding on the muscle. Once the working set is complete, their velcro design allows quick removal; a feature you'll only appreciate once you've trained this way!
The origin of BFR training
A bit more about BFR. It was discovered in 1966 by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato as an 18-year-old while he was attending a Buddhist festival. While kneeling, he suffered a reduction in blood flow to his calves leading to a painful increase in pressure in his lower limb muscles. Massaging them out he noted the similarity to that of a "pump" after an intense workout, including calf raises. He has since spent the about 50 years researching and perfecting his methods, tutoring and exploring new applications, gaining honorary degrees from the Medical Research Center at The University of Tokyo among others.
In that time, the training techniques and its application have developed rapidly, and it's now used in bodybuilding, rehab and medical interventions around the world. Similarly, the understanding of what mechanisms of change it creates within the body have developed in recent years allowing a more precise use of the technology, and it's now being used by many elite athletes and their coaches.
The slightly physio nerdy explanation of what's going on
Okay, here goes: By restricting the veins during muscular contraction, a number of changes happen. Blood is still able to enter the muscle supplied by the deeper laying arteries but unable to leave through the superficial veins. Because of this, an increase of pressure builds within the capillaries shunting hydrostatic fluids across endothelial membranes of the circulatory system and into the surrounding tissues, i.e. muscle fibers. This increase in fluids within the tissue draws nutrients from the blood vessel down a concentration gradient and into the tissue. Blood begins to pool in the veins while it backs up in the artery, decreasing flow as metabolites build up throughout the system.
The muscle swells as you actively contract it with the increased volume of each muscle fibre acting in the short term to increase strength. These already swollen fibres will continue to increase in size due to the hydrostatic pressures exerted by the artery until you either remove the venous block forcing them to either adapt and grow in size or burst. Since the intention of a resistance training is to damage muscle cells forcing them to repair and grow larger and stronger than before, this is a useful tool to consider when training.
Within these blood vessels, the endothelial cells react to the changing PH levels of the blood releasing an increased amount of Nitric Oxide. This chemical is found in most pre-workout formulas and marketed alone as a supplement used to increase the vasodilation of the vessels transporting blood to and from the muscles as well as giving you that "pumped" feeling. This is desirable for athletes as an increase in blood pressure directly raises the hydrostatic pressure and movement of fluids out of the blood and into the cells within the body. Similarly, Nitric Oxide has been shown to increase both permeability and elasticity of blood vessels when consumed or produced in higher quantities over extended periods of time maintaining vascular health.
With those extracellular changes occurring, it's no surprise to find that intracellular changes are abundant, too. Before we look into those, we must consider that muscle as a whole can be broken down into many levels with varying fibre types. There are 3 types of skeletal muscle fibre: Slow Twitch fibres (Type 1) are utilised by endurance athletes and can only function in the presence of oxygen. Fast Twitch Oxidative (Type 2a) are a much more explosive variety yet also utilise the oxidation of O2 to produce energy resulting in an explosive fibre with a resistance to fatigue in the medium term. The final fibre is Fast Twitch Glycolytic (Type 2b) which is only able to metabolise via the anaerobic glycolysis pathway without the use of O2. This drastically increases recovery time and reduces its ability to function beyond the most explosive of activities, i.e. intense weight lifting and sprinting.
During occlusion training, the Type 1 and 2a fibres are starved of oxygen decreasing their work capacity. This increases a neural stimulation to other fibres of the same type that may be inactive and increases motor recruitment. That is to say when we actively contract the muscle we only ever activate a percentage of its contained fibres. The percentage activated will vary from person to person but will never reach 100% of the muscle without external intervention from devices such as a Compex Muscle Stimulator which uses electrical impulses to stimulate 100% of motor units and in turn muscle fibres.
By activating more fibres through occlusion training, we are better able to train more of the muscle to the demands of our sports than we would likely be able to through standardised training alone. Once the Type 1 and 2a fibres are depleted and fatigued, we recruit Type 2b fibres to continue the exercise in the absence of oxygen.
This lack of oxygen creates a hypoxic environment within the tissue causing the release of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). This signaling protein chemical is responsible for the creation of new blood vessels and their supporting networks. Blood vessels once complete will increase the surface area ratio of diffusion within the tissue allowing more oxygen and key nutrients to the tissue in the future along with increased lactate threshold.
With occlusion training reducing levels of oxygen available to working muscles, a lactic acid/lactate build-up occurs dramatically quicker than expected. This chemical soup build-up is counteracted by the body converting it back to pyruvate as previously mentioned. But with training, the body is better able to hold off and endure this acidic state for longer periods of time.
While more applicable for those completing High-Intensity Endurance Exercise (HIEE), the applications of occlusion training are useful for a variety of sports. Studies have shown that the change of intramuscular environment to an acidic state causes a vast increase in the release of Growth Hormones (GH), Myostatin (GD8), Heat Shock Protein (HSP) and Nitric Oxide Synthase-1, all of which are key regulators of hypertrophy and protein synthesis.
To sum up the benefits of BFR
With all that considered, it's clear that occlusion training should be a key technique in any athlete’s armory. However, it has one final trick up its sleeve. Occlusion training should be completed using only 20% of an individual’s 1 rep max and complete more repetitions per set, usually until failure. This reduced weight dramatically reduces the stress placed on joints which enables it to be used in rehabilitation or through minor injuries.
BFR training has been shown in research to effect:
Can you really afford to ignore it?
*This is a slightly altered version for BfR readers. Read the full article and find the resources used at James's personal blog here.
We hope you found this useful,
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
Most of us view our workouts as a break from our busy daily lives; a place where we can let go and work on ourselves.
At the same time, we want to see results as fast and as efficiently as possible – but how?
Blood flow restriction (BFR) training, also sometimes referred to as occlusion training, may certainly be the answer to this. Studies have now been carried out widely on an international scale leading sports scientists and highly respected Ph.D.’s to be more conclusive with regards to the benefits and overall potential of this new and upcoming way of training.
Origins and terminology
Actually, the idea behind BFR training isn't new but was first discovered in Japan back in the 1960’s by a man named Yoshiaki Sato, who would later become the inventor of the KAATSU training principle. Often you'll see three terms - occlusion training, blood flow restriction training, KAATSU training - being used interchangeably to describe the same thing, and there are indeed many similarities between these three forms of training, but technically there are some (slightly nerdy) differences between them.
How it works
The main idea of what we try to teach you guys about here is that by restricting (occluding) part of the blood flow from your extremity like your arm or leg back to your heart you cause a pooling of blood in your muscles along with increased levels of lactide acid which triggers a state of hypertrophy (muscle growth) by increasing the level of growth hormone from your brain.
The muscles react to the decrease in oxygen level caused by the restricted blood flow forcing them to work harder and fatiguing also the fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibres, which are the ones with the highest growth potential compared to the slow twitch ones (Type I).
The best part is that you should only do your sets using between 20-50% of your 1RM (meaning 20-50% of what you can lift one time only) in weights.
This means that your joints and ligaments - well, your whole body in the long run – will thank you for taking away large parts of the stress that traditional heavy lifting causes.
Therefore, BFR training is an amazing supplement to traditional training but has also proven to be a very powerful tool in injury prevention and during rehabilitation. If you'd like to dig in to the physiological details about what goes on in your body during a BFR workout, check out this post by our guest blogger and BfR Pro ambassador James Ruckley. (Also, if you'd like to be an ambassador for us yourself, don't hesitate to contact us!).
In other words, BFR training is intelligent training where you trigger your body to naturally produce more out of less. "Simple concept, intelligent training", as we put it.
Here at BfR Professional, we want you to reach your physical goals faster and more efficiently, and we can’t wait to be part of your journey towards a fitter, stronger you.
Link on types of muscle fibres for further inspiration:
Take it to the next level!
Team BfR Professional
The idea behind BfR Professional all began more than two years back when one of our founders, Martin, first heard about the concept of blood flow restriction training and how it has the potential to revolutionise the way people do fitness today.
He enthusiastically shared this knowledge with his longtime friend Lars, who would later become the other founder, and thus the seeds of what would eventually become BfR Professional were sown.
Want something? Go create it yourself!
The scientifically proven training method of blood flow restriction (BFR) has been rather extensively researched and especially within the recent decade. The idea of training with lower weights, while still gaining significant muscle strength and growth, is appealing to many of us.
However, we became increasingly frustrated about not being able to find any customised equipment for this new training method, so we decided to create our own product.
After many months of product development, tests and redesigning, we're now ready to introduce and share with you the first generation of our blood flow restriction gear. The product is named BfR Pro ARMS, which is essentially a custom-made elastic anti-slip band designed to be used on your upper arms for blood flow restriction training, which is also popularly known as occlusion training.
ARMS will come in four different sizes suitable for more or less everyone who wants to take on this new and upcoming way of training to complement their existing workout routine. Furthermore, we are already now planning to introduce the LEGS version specifically designed for blood flow restriction training, so stay tuned here on our blog and social media. Also don't forget to sign up to our newsletter on our website!
Come cheer us on
We'ill be launching our product and opening for sales this coming October through an online campaign using the world’s largest crowdfunding platform: www.kickstarter.com. Naturally, we will be posting and keeping you updated about our progress and details concerning the campaign continuously, and we urge you to stay tuned if this new and scientifically proven training method is something which you would like to try out for yourself. Obviously, we would love your support on kickstarter.com!
After all this time, we are more than keen to share our knowledge and our products with the world. We promise that we'll aim to give all the guidance necessary both here on our blog, Instagram, and Facebook, where we'll be talking about not only how our specific product can help you in connection with blood flow restriction training and reaching your physical goals, but also more generally how blood flow restriction training can benefit you. We simply want you to train smarter and better. We believe in your potential.
Take it to the next level
Lars & Martin
Team BfR Professional