Do you about blood occlusion training? Today we’ll look at a new study and break down the facts to see if this method really works and if it’s right for you!
Occlusion Training Definition
Blood occlusion training, also known as blood flow restriction or BFR, is a training method that is performed with blood flow blocked to the specific muscle being trained, generally one at a time. The occlusion is created to minimize blood flow to surface veins and is theorized to help build muscle faster than exercise performed without an occlusion.
So, to put it simply, blocking blood flow to a specific muscle group keeps your blood out of the surface veins and it turns out this may build muscle faster.
So how do you actually do occlusion training?
Occlusion Training Bands
First you’ll need some occlusion training bands also known as occlusion training straps, which you can take a look at here on Amazon. Ok, so what do you do with them?
Athletes and other individuals create this occlusion by applying a wrap at the top of a limb, tight enough to ‘occlude’ the blood flowing to and from the veins, though ensuring that blood flow from the arteries continues. Sounds a bit rough, but you get used to it quickly and that last part is the most important, DO NOT go so tight that you’re obstructing blood flow in your inner arteries—hopefully, we don’t have to explain why that’s a bad idea.
The description used frequently is like the pressure from a blood pressure cuff at your doctor’s office, to give an idea of how tight the band should be drawn. The athlete then performs their desired exercises, performed in repetitions, generally in a 30,15,15,15 pattern. Only the limb being exercised is occluded.
In the study detailed below, participants performed 4 sets of bench press and squats with or without occlusion according to their study group. Let’s see what happened!
Occlusion Training Side Effects
Potential side effects of occlusion training are mostly in your control! If you’re going to try out this method of training, we highly recommend it. Like any new exercise or way of training, form is key. In this case, that includes the tightness of your bands. With some practice, you should learn to have an idea of how tight is enough and what is too much. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new training regimen. If you have circulatory health issues, we do not recommend occlusion training. This is generally a training method that is best used with some experience. It may help to fist have some muscle development already established and then occlusion training can help you build from there.
Occlusion Training Study
In a study conducted by Jennifer L. Caputo, Richard S. Farley, and Tetsuo Yamanaka Jennifer at Middle Tennessee State University, researchers explored the benefits of blood occlusion training, particularly in division IA football players.
The study was carried out over a 4-week period using low-intensity resistance training. 32 subjects were studied with half using blood occlusion techniques and the other half served as a control group, working out without occlusion training bands. Training took place 3 times per week and both sets of athletes performed the same training exercises after the conclusion of normal off-season strength training exercises. The study participants were already football players, healthy and around the same age 19 give or take a year and a half. This is the sort of controlled study that has the most potential to see the benefits or lack thereof from occlusion training—the only difference between the two groups, is the use of bands or not.
Let’s see what happened.
Do Blood Occlusion Training Methods Work?
During the course of blood occlusion training muscle fibers are placed under the normal stress of exercise, as well as flooded with blood and reach the point where they either explode or grow causing the muscles to grow more rapidly than usual. A review of the makeup of our muscles shows that our muscles are composed of two different types of fibers, slow twitch or muscles that are used in low-intensity activities such as walking. The second type is referred to as fast twitch fibers and play a role in high-intensity activities much like the sports activities the Division IA football players partake of regularly.
Blood occlusion training also lowers the oxygen available to the muscles which forces the muscles to use and create more of the fast twitch muscle fibers, which resulted in the extreme growth observed in the study. The muscle growth experienced with these techniques would thus benefit football players and players of other sports where high-intensity movement is key.
Got that? So, if you’re a weightlifter or high-intensity athlete, occlusion training is for you!
Blood occlusion training stimulates muscle hypertrophy, muscle hypertrophy involves the growth of muscles through the growth of their cells. Normally muscle hypertrophy occurs from several different means ranging from strength training to puberty. In blood occlusion training the cells are quite literally forced to grow.
Athletes and other individuals who require quick muscle growth can experience their desired outcomes much faster by applying these techniques.
Occlusion Training Results
The study participants were tracked throughout the study on several markers including blood pressure, health history and various body measurements. The participants in this study who used the occlusion techniques experienced muscle growth that was very impressive. They experienced increase in their ability to perform bench presses and squats 7% and 8% respectively.
Occlusion Training Chest Results
In addition to the occlusion training group increasing their bench press by 7% over the control group, there were some other promising results! Chest girth both upper and lower was increased by 3% each. Upper left arm girth also was greater in those athletes that used blood occlusion training techniques. This is big news for muscle builders.
Blood occlusion training appears to be a highly effective means of increasing muscular strength and creating muscle hypertrophy in athletes. Athletes will still need to continue on regular strength training and other physical conditioning required for their chosen sport. Also, keep in mind that the muscle created using these techniques is fast twitch muscles, meaning these techniques may not create muscles that are optimal for say an individual who prefers to get their exercise by walking or who is not a professional athlete. The hugely positive results from this study have proven that this type of training is a viable way to increase muscle mass and girth for college athletes and in particular for football players.
If you’re ready to try something new and get an edge in the gym, build yourself some serious muscle with blood occlusion training. Grab yourself a pair of Blood Flow Occlusion Bands on Amazon.
Get after it!