“Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training involves wrapping a cuff around your limb to partially block blood flow during a workout. The goal of BFR training is to increase the metabolic stress on your muscles without doing intense work that causes muscle breakdown. To accomplish the goal, one wraps a tourniquet-like cuff around the top of the arm and/or leg. The cuff is tight enough to block the veins returning blood from the muscles to the heart, but loose enough to allow fresh arterial blood into the muscles.
The most robust evidence for BFR training is increasing strength and muscle mass using relatively light weights. A typical BFR protocol involves lifting between 20% – 40% of your one rep maximum (1RM). The muscle gains from this protocol are similar to high intensity training (H.I.T.) protocol usually required to stimulate strength and hypertrophy gains (approximately 70% of your 1RM). BFR results in faster strength gains and increase in muscle size, as well as systemic changes that can lead to faster recovery. BFR is currently being used in most professional sports and in many colleges and clinics worldwide.
There are many benefits from the use of BFR. These benefits include:
- Increased muscle strength
- Increased motor unit recruitment
- Increased muscle size
- Cardiovascular improvements, including increased VO2 Max.
- Cuts training duration time in half to see benefits
- Use with early post op of knees (ACL and scope) and shoulders (Rotator Cuff /labrum Repair)
- Allows less pain with exercises due to lighter intensity
- Allows shorter bouts of exercise with both aerobic and strength training with faster results and recovery times
These changes can lead to faster recovery times and physiological changes that benefit athletic, orthopedic, and neurological patients. Typically physiological changes in muscle strength and size around 3-4 weeks with training 2-3 times weekly with BFR vs typical training at high intensities which takes 8-12 weeks to show similar improvements.