Just got into looking into one of the components of training we used a lot at the old therapy place in Hawaii, called bloodflow restriction training. This article places a more ‘meathead approach’ to the use of bloodflow occlusion training. The article is more specific to building muscle and hints on a different method of muscle growth that nobody understands (seems to be the general concensus for all muscle building) – swelling within the muscle cells themselves causing hypertrophy. The idea behind restricting bloodflow is that your body doesn’t allow the backflow of blood, causing more swelling in the localized muscle, thus more growth in the localized muscle.
The basics of bloodflow restriction training:
-Using a blood pressure cuff or a device to ‘choke off’ blood flow along a part of the body you are trying to work in isolation. For instance, if you are working biceps, tighten a band at the armpit and around the shoulder. The trick in intensity is getting the band to the point of slight discomfort – the research articles I have read recommend a pressure of 160-200 mmhg…or on a personalized intensity scale at about 7 out of 10…you want it to be very tight – but not so tight you become numb without doing anything.
-Using a weight that is 20-30% of your one rep max for the exercise, aim for a first set of 20-25 reps.
-After the set, rest ~30 seconds while keeping the occulsive device secure on your arm.
-Perform a total of 3-4 sets.
-Work to COMPLETE FAILURE. When you muscle gets tired, you’re not done, work through the burn and only complete the series when your muscle is shot.
-Increased growth hormone response 24 hours after occulsion training
-Ability to push the muscle to a further degree of ‘failure’ due to a lighter weight
-DOMS is minimal
-ability to use a lighter weight to achieve hypertrophy (which actually holds huuge potential for the elderly)
-Take blood pressure in distal limb prior to performing BFR training – if the individual has some kind of arterial/venous blockage already, it could cause complications.
My thought is that it’s fun to try and it actually has shown some great results in populations others may deem ‘at risk’. It doesn’t fix laziness but it does introduce a new method of training to experience for folks looking to have fun when training. In the same way I don’t believe a specific diet is going to help everyone, I don’t believe this type of exercise is for everyone. But who’s to say it isn’t going to be fun to TRY? As long as you understand the risks and are willing to put your body through it, give it a shot!