With all these weird names like super-sets, drop-sets, micro-sets, dragon-sets, HIIT, and LISS, it feels as if people are making these up as they go. There is one that caught my eye a few months ago and I’ve incorporated it into my workouts since.
Blood Flow Restriction Training (not occlusion training) is a method to promote muscle hypertrophy by sending the most blood to the muscle being trained. This technique is a little tricky, but like all things can be perfected with practice. BFR training requires a tourniquet, band, or elastic wraps of some sort. I’ve found out the best width to use is relatively close to 2-3 inches, any wider gets a little too difficult to tighten, and the narrower it is the greater blood can escape. Here’s the link to the ones I bought.
The difference in Occlusion training and BFR training is that occlusion stops circulation to, and from the muscle. Versus BFR restricts only the blood returning from the muscle, which causes and increase in blood being pumped in with no way out. Now, this sounds more dangerous than it really is but please do take precaution. The bands will need to be tight enough to stop the veins from coming back with blood but not enough to stop the arteries. Such as on a limb where a band can easily slip over, and placed on the highest of the limbs such as biceps as close to the underarm, or the legs closer to the groin. The tightness scale I use starts at a 9 on a 10 scale, 10 being the highest, and slowly release until it is comfortable yet I know it is slowing down circulation. This will require you to adjust each day and find out which get you the best pump.
The tightness that usually works for me is around a 7ish on that scale like I said it will take some perfecting. Now to the sciency-stuff!
In lamens terms, by allowing blood to flow in, but not out, changes the way the muscle performs. With the increase in blood, the muscle undergoes a larger swelling (also known as the pump) and adapts to utilize all that blood which = larger muscles when filled with blood. Over time that type of training will allow the muscle to gain size in order to best accommodate the surplus in blood. The body also secretes a hormone because it senses the muscle is in pain which allows protein synthesis to take place quicker.
With this technique, the idea is to use less weight with more reps, you will find out very quickly how hard it gets with the bands slowing down your circulation. I generally do 5 sets of 20 reps with unbelievably light weights. The rest time between the sets are around 30 seconds, and the reps and nice and crisp with a strong contraction while you can. (After the first 15 reps it gets 10X harder) Once you finish each set of 20 go straight into a bicep flex with the intent of sending the most blood that you can, towards the end of the BFR exercise flexing will become extremely difficult.
BFR training should only be done with one exercise, not throughout the entire workout. After you complete the training, release the bands and store them for another day.
If your biceps, triceps, forearms, quads, hams or CALVES are lagging behind be sure and try to introduce them to this technique and see what kind of difference it makes for you.
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