A new training form that is quickly gaining rapid attention in the world of high performance sports is blood flow restriction training, also known as BFR Training. Despite the skeptics and cynics who claim it is “too good to be true” the proof is in the pudding – there is ample research to prove the efficacy of this training modality.
What Is BFR Training?
Imagine this: a workout that only takes half an hour, where you do the equivalent of a full body workout and all your muscles are pushed to the limit without using heavy weights. This is the purpose of blood occlusion training.
Blood occlusion training can add lean body mass to your frame while cutting body fat, and increases your strength and endurance. The best part is that it does not take a long time to see results. In fact, the research shows 10% gains in muscle hypertrophy in as little as 2-3 weeks!
Naturally, experts are suspicious and cynical about these benefits, since they go against all traditional forms of working out. But blood occlusion training, also known as Kaatsu, has produced amazing results for several athletes. Some claim that thanks to this method, within ten days, they were able to add ten pounds to their one rep max. This is doable for someone who is somewhat untrained, but an incredible claim for someone who has been training for years.
Kaatsu can do things like improve your strength, endurance, and body composition without tiring out your body. This technique has already existed for several years in Japan but it is only just now reaching the western world. The meaning of Kaatsu in Japanese is “additional pressure.”
It works by placing occlusion bands at the top of the arms or legs to restrict the venous blood that flows out of your arms and legs. Interestingly enough, any time you do resistance training you are already “occluding” internally so using this method is not as crazy as the skeptics pose, they just don’t understand it.
Why It Works
The idea behind the Kaatsu technique is that when you slow down the blood flow that goes back to your heart, the muscles in your arms and legs start to fill up with blood. This means that capillaries which are not usually used, fill with blood which increases the concentration of lactate and muscle building substrates in the bloodstream. This ends up producing the same result as if you had exercised for a long time, but in a much shorter amount of time.
In response to the bloodstream filling up with lactate, the pituitary gland will then start to release growth hormones. Increased growth hormone levels means more body fat loss, muscle gain, and better overall body fat distribution.
This kind of training will definitely benefit athletes who are concerned about overtraining their bodies. When you put in long hours at the gym it is very easy to end up not reaping the benefits of your workouts, or even undoing all your hard work if you are not well rested and have the right nutrition.
Since occlusion training doesn’t have the same impact on the central nervous system or the soft tissues, it is safe and effective to do everyday without overtraining, and could be a solution for those currently in a state of overtraining. Additionally, unlike heavy weight training which can often place unfavorable stress on the soft tissues (ligaments & tendons), occlusion training actually helps promote the strength of the soft tissues so that if and when you decide to lift heavier weight, traditionally you will see more rapid gains in strength.