Are you new to Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)? Well, Elite Japanese athletes, including Sumo Wrestlers and Martial Artists have been using it for years, and for very good reason.
The more time you are spending in the gym conditioning and building muscle, the less time you can dedicate to your training in the Dojo. So what if you could cut your gym time in half, yet still reap the same benefits? How much more time would that free up that you could use to hone your Martial Arts skills? Well. the good news is that this is entirely possible using some very simple, inexpensive tools.
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Blood Flow Restriction training is not yet the widespread phenomenon it is destined to be, but is extremely popular in smaller, health-conscious, savvy communities. While the US is starting to adopt it, one country that is fully onboard is Denmark, a place that is globally renowned for the health of its citizens. Not to mention the fact that it has been named ‘The World’s Happiest Country’ for more years than any other.
Do a side-by-side comparison of the average American body and the average Danish body and the result is shocking; Muffin tops on one side and toned abs on the other. While there are obviously exceptions to the rule, Denmark is clearly doing something right that we could learn from.
We think that their attitude to health, as well as the techniques they choose, are the main parts of the puzzle. Blood Flow Restriction is one of those techniques.
Some of the main benefits of Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) (also going by the names Occlusion Training and Kaatsu) include:
- Lifting only between 20-50% of your 1RM (1 rep maximum), meaning if you normally can lift 100 kg one time only then you should lift between 20-50 kg with BFR straps.
- Spares joints, ligaments and tendons.
- Perfect training technique/hack for (well, everyone): athletes, elderly, rehab/prehab patients, finishing exercises in your normal workout routine.
- For example, people with knee or elbow injuries.
- Increasing your natural production of growth hormone; meaning it does not only have a local effect (on the restricted limb), but also a positive effect for the rest of your body (systemic effect).
- Train faster (recommended 10-15 min max with restriction)
- Even improve cardiovascular performance (studies done with pro bikers).
In an interview with JMaxFitness, the BFR Researcher and Expert Jeremy Loenekke describes the process like this:
“BFR is a technique where we apply a cuff/wrap and restrict blood flow into a muscle, causing blood to pool in the limb. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a short term thing and we aren’t restricting blood flow for hours at a time (big difference between acute and chronic).
It’s also important that we remember we are not trying to occlude blood flow into the muscle completely, we only want to partially restrict it. When BFR is combined with low intensity aerobic exercise there appears to be a small increase in muscle size and strength. However, when it is combined with low load resistance training (30% max) it produces increases in muscle size and strength similar to that observed with high load resistance training.”
Despite its obvious benefits, it is not yet a technique that has become well known within the Martial Arts community. Although it is only a matter of time before it becomes an integral part of the training regime, especially in the world of MMA. Just because other Martial Artists are slow on the uptake, doesn’t mean you need to be.
As we said before, the tools required are simple, but it always pays to get good quality BFR Straps that won’t snap or damage the skin due to using poor materials. Our recommendation is the ones by BFR Pro. This is a Danish company who are known for their smart design and use of high-quality materials. You can check them out yourself HERE, and also some tips on how to use the straps HERE.
Best of luck on your fitness journey and we would love for you to keep us updated on your results. As always, keep training and #STANDSTRONG!