Cutting off blood flow isn’t just the secret to muscle recovery

By Ea Francisco | Photo by  Khusen Rustamov/Stock Snap

A few straps that cut off circulation? Blood flow restriction (BFR) training might sound dangerous, but you’d be surprised to find out it actually does the opposite.

BFR, sometimes called occlusion training, involves stopping blood flow by tying cuffs or wraps around a certain limb during a workout in order to build muscle. Sounds morbid when you first hear it, but BFR is a tried-and-tested method even therapists use.

The idea is that you maintain flow from your arteries, which carry oxygenated blood away from your heart, and restrict flow from the veins, which return deoxygenated blood back to the heart. You’re basically delivering blood to the muscles and trapping it in that area to cause cellular swelling. Much in the same manner as filling a balloon with water. The process then causes metabolic stress, which triggers muscle growth.

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💪 BLOOD FLOW RESTRICTION 💥 . BFR is a great technique with a ton of impressive research! In this workout I'm doing 4x 30 reps with 30 seconds rest. . BFR doesn't need to replace your normal strength training. It should be used as a add-on, for example: at the end of a workout, when you are in a rush, have limited equipment (such as vacation/travels), injured, de-loading or on your rest days. . I've found it to be great with clients who have lagging body parts. You can quickly add in volume and frequency without impairing recovery or joint health in the long-term. . Remember you only need about 30% of your 1 Rep max. Make sure you are hitting 20+ reps, minimal rest and 3+ sets to get a CRAZY PUMP! . P.S. Remember, constant tension and no resting at the bottom!! . #bfr #bloodflowrestriction #bloodflowrestriction #rudymawer

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Another important thing that BFR does is switch from your oxygen-dependent, slow-twitch fibers into your fast-twitch fibers. The fast-twitch fibers are larger and have more potential for muscle growth, but it’s hard to tap unless you’re carrying really heavy loads. With BFR, you can do this by only doing half your maximum load. Men’s Health said that some studies showed that even doing weights as light as 20 percent of your one-rep max can lead to increased muscle.

BFR may seem dangerous, but it works as long as you do it right. When you wrap your limbs, make sure you can still feel your legs because numbness means the arteries are being cut off. Remember, wrap your upper arms and legs, not the elbows and knees. Better yet, ask a trainer or an expert to learn the proper way to wrap, so you won’t completely cut off circulation—or worse, lose a limb.