The Secret Weapon You're Missing Out On
- By Master Trainer and Coach Pat Marques
What is BFR Training?
BFR training, in general, uses bands placed around the upper arms or upper legs at a mild tightness that allows normal blood flow to working muscles but slightly modifies blood flow return. This can amplify the effects of exercise in less time, with less stress on the body. BFR Training was pioneered by the inventor of the KAATSU BFR training device, Dr. Yoshiake Sato. BFR Training done with the KAATSU device is the safest and most effective way to conduct this type of training.
How is BFR Training done?
Once the bands are placed on the upper arms or upper legs (never both simultaneously), they are filled with air to a preset pressure to the appropriate tightness for you. Then you perform exercises based on your goals and requirements using very light loads. A standard prescription would be to use 20-30% of your one repetition maximum of a given exercise. We use different protocols depending on the goal (e.g., building strength & muscle vs. injury recovery).
But don’t let the light loads fool you! The slight modulation of blood flow return quickly increases the buildup of lactate (the “burn” you feel when strenuously exercising). In addition, it requires you to tap into all your muscle fibers (more on all the benefits below).
The training sessions are short because they are so efficient. Therefore, the benefits of even light exercises such as walking, bodyweight exercise, and mobility drills are amplified when using BFR.
We can use the KAATSU BFR training device in two different modes, again depending on your goals and situation:
Cycle Mode: In this mode, the bands fill to a preset pressure for 30 seconds, then completely release for 5 seconds, then refill for 30 seconds. This cycle – 30 seconds of pressure, then 5 seconds of no pressure – is repeated for an allotted amount of time while you are doing light exercise. This is the preferred mode for injury recovery/rehabilitation, pain clients, and training recovery.
Constant Mode: In this mode, the bands fill to a preset pressure and then stay at that pressure for the duration of the workout. This is the more strenuous mode, as there is no release of the pressure throughout the workout. We use this mode to build strength and muscle, train lactate tolerance, and improve athletic performance.
What is BFR used for?
BFR training can be used for the following:
• Increasing strength & hypertrophy (building muscle)
• Speeding up injury recovery and rehabilitation after surgery
• Weight loss
• Improved blood pressure
• Recovery (from workouts in general or competitions, races, etc.)
• Improved hormonal response
How does BFR work?
During BFR training, several physiological effects occur at the local level (muscle tissue being trained) and at a systemic level (overall body, hormones, etc.).
Local tissue level benefits:
o Fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment: only exercise that activates fast twitch muscle fibers will significantly increase strength and muscle improvements
o Increased protein synthesis in the muscles (part of what is needed to make them grow)
o Improved lactate tolerance (your ability to do harder work over time)
Stronger, Better, Faster
o Increase of the production of hormones and metabolites, including HGH (Human Growth Hormone), NO2 (nitric oxide), IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor), VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor), ceramides, plasmalogens, beta-endorphins, testosterone, etc.
o Decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone) production
o Increase of the elasticity of vascular tissue (i.e., capillaries, veins, and arteries) resulting in better moderation of blood pressure and higher efficiency of blood circulation
Feel & Look Younger. Heal Faster. Stay Healthier
These reactions, in turn, enable you to increase muscle and strength, improve blood circulation, improve metabolic syndrome, reduce the probability of osteoporosis, improve sleep, burn additional calories, improve agility and endurance, and facilitate recovery from injuries and surgeries.
Performance Blood Flow Restriction Training