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What is Blood Flow Restriction Training? (Cutting-edge trends in fitness)

October 21st, 2022 | 7 min. read

What is Blood Flow Restriction Training? (Cutting-edge trends in fitness)

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Health and fitness have become a higher priority for more and more people. Science has proven the importance of eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly to reduce illness, improve your quality of life, and extend your longevity.

 

Ideas about exercise continue to evolve. Fitness trends change and old ideas are disposed of, and new concepts arise.

 

Paseo Club continues to evolve to be at the forefront of many fitness trends. We pioneered bringing pickleball, reformer Pilates, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), and many junior programs to the club.

 

One new, cutting-edge system in fitness that we are excited about is blood flow restriction training (BFR). This system allows participants to use light weights but get rapid results.

 

In this article, we will explain what blood flow restriction training is, why it is so effective, and who it is a good fit for this method of exercise.

 

What is blood flow restriction training? 

BFR training is a technique in which pressurized bands or cuffs (which look similar to blood pressure cuffs) are worn around the arms or legs to slow blood flow to specific muscles during training.

 

The cuffs trigger the body to build more muscle mass than it would otherwise at the selected training intensity.

 

 

How does it work? 

The occlusion cuff restricts venous return (blood being pumped from the muscles back to the heart) though it does not restrict arterial blood flow (blood pumped to the muscles) to the same degree.

 

The intervention leads to higher metabolic stress on the muscle, stronger muscle contractions, and localized hypoxia (low oxygen delivery) which favors the recruitment of type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers. 

Heat-shock chaperone proteins, which play a role in rebuilding muscle tissue, may be upregulated because of metabolic stress induced by BFR, leading to more muscle growth).

 

What are the benefits of blood flow restriction training?

BFR training fatigues muscles deeper compared to almost any other form of exercise. That fatigue creates noticeable results and is often safer for users.

  • Faster recovery
  • Less pain in your body
  • Healing and anti-aging 
  • Increased strength and endurance
  • Lift lighter weights which is safer and less demanding
  • Muscles fatigue faster, and you will feel the “burn” quickly
  • Surges in growth hormone levels shortly after BFR exercise which improves results

Who can train using resistance cuffs? 

People use much lighter weights with BFR training, which makes BFR training ideal for people that cannot lift heavy weights due to injury, age, or other factors.

 

BFR training helps you to achieve the same results from low-intensity resistance exercises as those achieved through high-intensity resistance training (ex. weight lifting).

 

BFR is safe and effective for a wide variety of people.

  • Athletes
  • Amputees
  • Bodybuilders
  • Geriatric populations
  • Pre-op ortho patients
  • Post-op ortho patients
  • Active recovery populations
  • Bedrest and/or immobilized patients

 

Are there any risks? 

Although blood flow restriction training is proven safe, and injuries resulting from this type of training are rare, there are several contraindications. Always be cautious and screen possible BFR users.

Below is just a small list of some of the many conditions contraindicated for BFR:

   • Cancer
   • Infection
   • Diabetes
   • Pregnancy
   • Lymphedema
   • Varicose Veins
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Open wound or incision
  • Heart disease/insufficiency
  • Severe, uncontrolled hypertension
  • Circulatory issues or clot risk (DVT)
  • A person that is less than 12 years of age

What results can be expected?

One of the most rewarding aspects of BFR training is that participants notice results sooner than most other forms of exercise. 

 

This method is available to a more diverse population which means more people can use it compared to high-intensity and/or higher-impact exercises.

 

  • Increased muscle size
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Little to no muscle damage
  • Decreased joint/tissue stress
  • Increased cardiovascular capacity
  • Increased levels of growth hormone (GH), Insulin-like Growth Factor1 (IGF1), and possibly testosterone

 

 

When can people begin to see results?

Scientists have conducted studies not only to explore BFR’s capacity but to look at when people begin to show results.  

BFR paired with aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is not typically associated with improvements in muscle mass. In fact, aerobic exercise inhibits the increase in muscle when combined with resistance training.

However, when combined with BFR, aerobic training interventions such as cycling, walking, and running are effective in increasing muscle mass by up to 5-7% over three weeks

 

BFR paired with resistance exercise

The greatest increase in muscle mass is seen when BFR is combined with low-intensity resistance exercise. Improvements in muscle mass have been observed at training intensities as low as 15%. 

 

Muscle hypertrophy (the increase in muscle cells) occurs at four weeks or less, whereas strength gains happen at ten weeks or later.

 

Will Paseo Club offer blood flow restriction classes?

YES!

 

Currently, the Paseo Club offers personal training and small group training classes.

 

  • Private sessions for 30 minutes are $60 per session 
  • Couples sessions for 30 minutes are $75 per session 
  • Four people small-group sessions are $100 ($25 per person)  

 

To sign up for your BFR training, contact fitness director, Cezanne Youmazzo.

 

Is blood flow restriction training right for you?

Now that you have read this article you will have a greater understanding of what blood flow restriction training is, how it works, and who it is a good fit for, and who it is contraindicated for. 

 

If you are interested in increasing your muscle mass and endurance while using lighter weights, then blood flow resistance training may be a good fit.

 

We recommend coming to a series of small group classes or getting some sessions with one of our instructors trained in BFR to try it out. 

 

The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley that offers over 60 fitness and mobility classes every week. We also have tennis and pickleball courts and a junior Olympic size pool open year-round.

 

If you want to learn more about BFR, or would like to see the entire Paseo Club facility, come in for a tour.

 

To learn more about the other programs we offer, check out these three articles: