As this post goes live, Lisa and I are traveling to Australia. I'd like to sit here and say that with 20 hours on a plane I'm doing something productive like reading a book, writing something or, I don't know, looking lovingly into my wife's eyes.
But actually he's probably watching John Wick or something.
Anyway, I haven't forgotten everyone and I have a lot of great content for the time I'm gone. Today's rising writer is a trainer in Baltimore, MD,Tim Hendren.
Copyright ©:piotrkt / 123RF stock photo
Circulation Restriction Training: The Holy Grail Of Tricks?
The fitness world is usually full of shit.
Apparently every 30 seconds a new product hits the gym or online, hailed as the next innovative tool to take your workout to the next level. From thigh masters to waist trainers to oxygen deprivation masks, shit peddlers have preyed on the insecurities of exercise enthusiasts for decades.
Tell anyone it takes ten years of consistent training and diet to get the results you want and you will struggle physically. Tell someone to tie a belt around their waist and magically lose 10 pounds. for three easy payments of 12.99 and you're a millionaire.
Unfortunately we are here.
I am skeptical at this point if I see anything deceptive.
My attitude is guilty before proven innocent for pretty much anything that doesn't consist of getting stronger with simple core exercises and eating the right amounts of the right foods for your goals.
When I first saw Blood Flow Restriction (BFR), my brain immediately sorted it into the category of useless weight shake-style nonsense.
Then I tried it after seeing some trusted coaches (John Meadows, Ben Pakulski and others) defending it.
Ok, maybe there is something to it.
I tried it and the massive pump it exerted in my arms was undeniable.
Keeping the blood trapped in the target muscle and going to failure with an absurdly light weight had to have some legitimate benefits.
It was time to dig deeper.
What is BFR?
BFR refers to an exercise strategy that uses strategically placed cuffs, bandages, bands, or a BFR device on the extremities to block venous blood flow away from the muscle while maintaining arterial flow to the muscle during exercise.
In other words, blood enters the muscle as it contracts and gets stuck there while you're wrapped.
When done right and failing, BFR is quite painful. Do you want to see someone humiliated? Take the worst dude at the gym, do a BFR exercise on him and watch him squirm in pain and fail 20-35% of his 1 rep max.
To put that in perspective, this fails at 60 pounds. Squats if you're 315 max.
The duration of the exercise and total time in the pack is less than 4 minutes, a lightning speed in terms of hitting failure with a weight you normally warm up to.
What does the research say?
That's all well and good, but who cares about the pump (I'm the guy with the hand raised) if it doesn't give lasting results? However, upon closer inspection, it turns out that BFR isn't just some bro's tool to pump up his arm heavily before he dons his medium jersey and hits the racquet.
In a recent meta-analysis of nearly 50 studies(Trash 2018)When comparing traditional heavy-load training and low-load training to BFR, it was a washout in terms of muscle hypertrophy.
Think about it.
Nearly 50 studies and the differences between traditional heavy lifting and light lifting with BFR were statistically insignificant when looking at muscle growth.
I guess this isn't in the smoothie category after all.
It should be noted that the same meta-analysis found that the differences in strength were clearly in favor of the heavy lifting groups.
Training for specificity remains paramount, especially when it comes to maximum strength.
in another study(Takarada Y 2000)recently operated ACL patients have been observed.
One group received traditional-load exercises for the quadriceps and another group received low-impact exercises combined with BFR. The group using BFR showed significantly less atrophy in the quadriceps compared to the traditional group and certainly what is typically seen in patients after ACL repair.
Another win for BFR as a pre-deer/deer tool!
When programming BFR into your workouts, it's important to note that its effectiveness is limited to the biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves due to the location of the occlusion sites. Sorry folks, no matter where you put these bandages, they're not locking your glutes or pecs.
Another limitation is the reluctance to generate strength gains.
While BFR has not been shown to increase maximal strength anywhere near as much as traditional lifts, based on the available research, it may be an effective way to maintain strength when dealing with a joint injury or problem affecting the body prevents trainees from lifting a lot of weight.
Other scenarios where BFR is useful
1. Golfer's or tennis elbow
The dreaded medial or lateral epicondylitis has created a major hurdle for arm gains.
There's nothing quite like trying an overhead triceps extension with a swollen elbow and the throbbing pain that follows. One of the most effective strategies I've found personally and with clients is to drop the weight, put on the cuffs, and pump without pain.
Usually in these conditions, if the weight is light enough, you can get away with performing the exercise.
Add in the cushion effect of blood pooling around the joint due to BFR and you have created an anabolic environment for the muscle without pain and the risk of further inflammation.
2. Knee problem
Whether it's arthritis or just sore knees from heavy compound exercises, BFR can be a great way to work your quads and hamstrings without putting extra pressure on your knees. The same concept from #1 to #1, your inflamed knees will appreciate light loads, allowing targeted muscles to progress painlessly through a full range of motion to failure.
3. Added frequency
When working heavier weights in a strength phase, it can be helpful to limit the exposure of the isolation work to the arms and legs. BFR training can provide intense stimulus to target muscles without approaching the level of muscle damage or joint stress from high loads. Using low loads and BFR allows you to do isolation exercises more frequently without sacrificing performance on heavy exercise.
4. At home or on the go
If you train at home or at a hotel gym with weights similar to Fisher-Price's "My First Set of Weights," BFR can be a great way to increase intensity and train closer to failure, regardless of the load.
We've all been burned by bullshit photos of hotel gyms online. You book the room thinking it's a decent gym then come up for the lifts and they don't have barbells over 25lbs. Aggravating.
Pack your wraps or cuffs just in case.
5. Prehabilitation or rehabilitation
As mentioned above, atrophy resulting from injury or surgery can be mitigated by low levels of exercise and BFR.
6. During a download
Taking a week off to recover from an intense training block? Sprinkle on BFR to give muscles a boost that doesn't require much recovery or tax the central nervous system.
7. When you need a sick pump without sacrificing planned training recovery
Don't act like you didn't do that.
You're about to go to the pool or the beach and have to pump your arms up quickly.
You have exactly 2 1/2 minutes to do 12,000 reps of close-grip curls and push-ups to explode your arms.
Dress, wear BFR, and make sure the swell holds up until launch. You'd hate to lose that bombshell if someone starts taking poolside photos for the gram.
GT Note: No BFR was made before photographing... ;o)
Get the pump you need without diving into your planned workout recovery.
How to cancel safely and effectively
Upper body:Place the bandages, cuffs, or BFR device directly under the deltoid tubercle, which is located at the junction of the deltoid and humerus. Wrap your arms with a perceived tension of 7/10 as this creates enough pressure to occlude the cephalic vein but ensure it still allows arterial flow.
Check if there is onepulsoradial distalafter it is wrapped to make sure it is not too tight. Don't do the exercise if you can't find your pulse.
Lower body:Place the bandages, cuffs, or BFR device as high up the thigh as possible. Wrap your thigh with the same 7/10 tension as your torso. Make sure the bandage, cuff, or device is flat and not wrinkled or puckered. The aim here is to occlude the deep vein and the femoral vein.
Make sure you have oneposterior tibial pulsebefore doing the exercise.
A more detailed description can be found underdr Mario Novo's guide to everything BFR.
The best exercises for BFR are isolation exercises like leg extensions, leg curls, bicep curls, and tricep extensions. Play around and find your favorite variations.
The most widely used and researched rep/set scheme of 30-15-15-15 is considered the gold standard by practitioners.
Serie 1:30 repetitions
Set 2:15 repetitions
Set 3:15 repetitions
Set 4:15 repetitions
Break: 30 between each series. Unpack after sentence 4. To breathe.
Perform BFR up to 2-3 times per week per muscle group for best results.
About the author
Tim is a CSCS and Exercise Science graduate who has been training in Baltimore, MD since 2004. Although his specialty is body composition, he has extensive experience working with clients ranging from young athletes to cardiac rehabilitation patients. Tim has been featured in a variety of fitness publications and writes for his blog when not personally helping clients get stronger, leaner, and overall more amazing.
Earlier this year Tim published his first book"Power On Protocol" available from Amazon.
A fat boy, Tim developed a deep passion for exercise and nutrition in his teens after undergoing a major body transformation. This passion drives him to achieve the best results for his clients and readers. Tim combines a knowledge base from years of practice in the field, research and time spent under the bar with practical advice to help his clients achieve their goals.
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Also, grab a copy of Tony's Pick Things Up, a quick guide to tips on all things deadlifting. do you see her butt Yes, it is good. You should probably check it out if you're hoping to get your ass that hot.
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