4 Tips To Help You Start BFR Training
When working out, people often think that the only way to improve gains is to increase your max weight per rep. This does build muscle, but it takes effort to be able to get to the point where you can lift more. For an alternative way of building muscle, blood flow restriction training, or BFR, can help you work smarter instead of harder during your workout.
In this article, we will give an overview of what BFR is, why it is used, and how it can change your workout routine. For those who are interested in getting started with blood flow restriction training, we will also discuss tips to help begin BFR training.
What is BFR training?
The phrase "blood flow restriction" may initially sound intimidating, but BFR is safe and frequently used in physical therapy and standard workouts. Also known as occlusion training, BFR changes a workout routine by, as the name states, restricting blood flow.
To understand BFR training, it is important to understand how blood vessels in the body function. You have two types of blood vessels, and they are arteries and veins. Arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to areas throughout the body. When blood loses its oxygen, veins return it to the heart.
In occlusion training, a band is placed around a limb, which restricts blood flow. This restriction affects the veins but not the arteries, which means that oxygenated blood is able to flow to the restricted area of the body, but blood is unable to flow back to the heart. The result is a buildup of blood in the restricted area.
By restricting the flow of blood during a workout, the goal is to get a more effective workout without exerting extra effort. BFR works by making the brain think that a limb is going through more physical stress than it actually is. This triggers the pituitary gland to send growth hormones to the muscles, which can lead to growth.
What does blood flow restriction training do?
As the section above states, the goal of BFR training is to increase muscle growth. However, it can be beneficial during workouts because its goal is to decrease the amount of effort needed to build muscle.
Typically, when lifting weights, someone will need to lift heavier objects to stimulate muscle growth. Occlusion training does not involve heavier weights, though. Instead, when an occlusion band is applied, a person can lift lighter than they typically do while still getting benefits. Many who use BFR training actually lift considerably less than their maximum weight per rep.
For bodybuilders, blood flow restriction training is a way to help improve the size and strength of muscles without having to excessively exert one's body.
Because it involves lower-effort workouts, it is also commonly used in physical therapy. Someone who is recovering from an injured limb will likely have lost strength, and building that strength back up can be difficult. Occlusion training can put less stress on the body, meaning that someone in physical therapy can regain muscle while they are still recovering.
4 Tips When Beginning BFR Training
If you are considering adding blood flow restriction training into your fitness routine, the following tips can help:
1. Prepare for Longer Recovery Periods after Your First Sessions
This may initially sound confusing, as the goal of BFR is to exert less physical stress during a workout. If you are lifting weights that are only a fraction of your max rep weight, then why would it leave you feeling exhausted?
The answer to this goes back to the science of occlusion training. Your body thinks that it has undergone an intensive workout, even if your routine involved less weight than usual. Because of this, it is common for those beginning BFR training to experience more muscle exhaustion after a BFR workout than a standard workout.
To help as your body gets used to occlusion training, take more rest days than usual to give your muscles time to recover. After getting used to blood flow restriction, you will likely be able to do it a few times a week without feeling too tired.
It is important to remember, though, that even if a person doing BFR feels more tired after a workout, they are still seeing the benefits of less physical stress on the muscles and joints.
2. Know that You Won't Need to Lift as Much
With blood flow restriction training, you will not need to lift as much as you normally do to achieve a productive workout. On the contrary, you should plan to only use a fraction of your typical maximum weight during a BFR workout.
While this is true for BFR novices and experts alike, it is especially important to aim for lower weight during your initial BFR workouts. Until you know exactly how your body feels after occlusion training, you should use lighter weights, even if you are proud of how much you normally lift.
3. Cardio and Stretching are Still Important
Warming up before lifting is an important part of a workout routine, and this is also true before a workout using occlusion training. Even if your workout will involve less weight, it is still a good idea to include light cardio before a workout.
4. Find the Right Band for You
To properly restrict blood flow in a limb, it is crucial to have the right band for what you are doing. This band for arms from BFR Bands, for example, offers easy adjustments for arms of different sizes.
Common Questions About BFR Training
What does BFR training do?
Through BFR training, an individual restricts blood flow to a limb to help increase the effectiveness of a workout without having to exert more effort.
Is BFR training good?
By restricting blood flow, those using BFR training can build muscle while lifting lighter weights. This can be especially helpful for those in physical therapy.
Who should not use BFR training?
Studies have found that BFR training is safe and does not cause injury or other issues. However, persons with high blood pressure or other heart-related conditions should consult with a physician before beginning blood flow restriction training.
How often should you use BFR training?
Once an individual is used to BFR, they often incorporate occlusion training into their fitness routine twice to three times a week. As you get used to the feeling of BFR, give yourself as much time as your body needs to recover.
How long can I wear BFR bands?
There is not an exact amount of time that a person should or should not wear a BFR band. Generally, you should limit wearing a BFR band to whenever you are working out with it. If the band feels uncomfortable, consider adjusting the tightness.
Do BFR bands grow glutes?
The short answer is yes, occlusion training can help with glutes. Using a BFR band on the upper though during a workout can help with muscle gains for glutes.
How long does it take to see results from BFR?
Results vary based on the individual, but many who use BFR training begin to see results within a month of regular use. It may take longer to notice changes in strength.
Whether you're a bodybuilder interested in changing up your workout routine or are recovering from an injury and are attempting to regain strength, blood flow restriction training may be for you. Check out the products offered by BFR Bands to see how you can incorporate occlusion training into your upper- and lower-body workouts.