Blood Flow Restriction Training (also known as Occlusion Training) is a fantastic and well-researched method for building muscle mass without using heavy weights.
The idea behind BFR Training is simple...you tie a band around your limb, then train the limb with high reps and light weight. The band slows down (i.e. occludes) the outflow of blood and, therefore, waste products out of the working muscle.
These waste products (such as lactic acid, i.e. lactate) are a strong anabolic signal to the body, meaning they stimulate muscle growth. They do this via chemical signals rather than muscle damage.
We're not look for arterial occlusion (meaning the blood flow coming IN to the muscle through the arteries)...we're looking for venous occlusion (the blood flow coming out of the muscles, through the veins).
That's where BFR Bands come into play...
BFR Bands are the brand name and these bands are specifically designed for Occlusion Training.
I've got full info and instructions on how to use them in the video review here...
Do BFR Bands Work For Building Muscle?
Absolutely. This type of training in general has been proven in a variety of studies to promote muscle growth (e.g. Zachary Pope, et. al., “Exercise and Blood Flow Restriction,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(10), 2013)
These BFR Bands are high quality, very easy to use and durable. I've been testing these actively for several months and have been very happy with them and how they work.
Do BFR Bands Cause Any Circulation Problems?
When using the bands, you want to tighten them to about 7 on a scale of 1-10. You don't want them too tight so that they cut off circulation into the muscle...just enough to impede it coming back out.
One of the nice things about these particular bands is that I found I actually wasn't able to really stretch them so tight that they caused a problem, even when I tried (for testing purposes).
They're very user-friendly in that regard. The material they're made of (and the width of that material) is perfect for getting the occlusion you want without allowing you to get them so tight that you screw it up, basically. It takes the guesswork out of the use of occlusion bands.
This makes the use of these particular bands very forgiving, unlike other types bands (like rubber tubing) I've tried that tend to cut off the circulation in a way that isn't what we're looking for.
How to Use BFR Bands
You thread the band through the simple clip, pull it tight, then clamp it down to lock it in place. There is a small loop that you can thread the loose end of the band through to keep it from flopping around.
And that's really all there is to it.
These bands are placed on your upper arm, just above the belly of the bicep.
Or on your leg, just above the belly of the hamstrings.
I recommend sticking with isolation exercises to promote blood flow to just one specific muscle. Use a light weight (e.g. 30-40% of your 1 RM) and go for maximum pump. Do your best to keep continuous tension on the muscles the entire set.
For triceps, I recommend pushdowns or kickbacks.
You CAN use bands for compound exercises, but I found them to be more effective for isolation training, especially as a finisher after performing a regular workout.
Occlusion Training gives you a very different feel in the muscle. You'll find that the waste product build-up actually prevents you from getting as many reps, even with a light weight. You'll be doing fine then all of a sudden your reps will grind to a halt when that "maximum saturation" occurs.
Blood Flow Restriction Training is a very useful methodology for building muscle. And these BFR Bands are exactly what you need to perform it effectively.
If you've been wanting to try Occlusion Training, I would HIGHLY recommend grabbing a pair of these...you won't need anything else.
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