Also known as Occlusion Training or Kaatsu Training was originally conceived and developed in Japan in the late 1960’s by Yoshiaki Sato and termed KAATSU training. It most commonly involves resistance training with low loads of around 20 – 30% of 1 Rep max (1RM), using wraps, cuffs or bandages applied around the top part of trained limb (usually with a perceived tightness of 7 out of 10).
Research has demonstrated that using low-load resistance training with BFR can produce significant strength and hypertrophy gains. BFR training has been found to yield hypertrophy responses comparable to that observed with heavy-load resistance training. Studies have also shown using walk-training along with BFR to the legs can increase muscle strength and size.
BFR training can be beneficial in producing muscular adaptions and anabolic responses with lower loads and lower volumes than comparable resistance training while giving joints, ligaments, and tendons a break from heavy lifting. The practical application is it can then be used when moderate to high loads are often not feasible in clinical populations or people with injuries and can be used as a rehabilitation tool.
It can also be used as a de-load strategy after a few weeks of heavy lifting or even at times when there just isn’t the mental focus to train heavy on a certain day. It is also good for anyone who wants to mix up their training or something different as a tool to supplement their training.
The muscle growth mechanisms are not entirely clear but metabolic stress plays a role in hypertrophy-
With BFR training you restrict the venous return of blood flow from the muscle (not restricting blood flow to the muscle). By restricting only, the venous return from the muscle, this then causes the blood to pool in the muscle. As the sets of the exercise progress there will be a greater total volume of blood & metabolites accumulated within the muscle tissue. The idea is now as blood accumulates, the muscle tissue is forced to expand, and type II muscle fibres are left to perform a greater portion of the work as the aerobic, type I fibres are quickly fatigued due to reduced levels of oxygen within the tissue. These effects lead to muscular hypertrophy through much lower training loads as would otherwise be necessary during exercises not using BFR.
Some Research on Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR)
A systematic review and meta-analysis of peer-reviewed literature examining BFR training in clinical MSK rehabilitation (Hughes et al)
Resistance Training on Muscle Adaptations Using a Systemic Review and Meta-analysis Procedure (Lixandrao et al)
High Load Resistance Training versus Low Load Blood Flow Restriction Training-
Based on the present data-
The studies have shown that low-intensity resistance training with vascular muscular venous blood flow causes muscle hypertrophy and strength gain.
Muscle Size & Strength are Increased Following Walk Training With Restricted Venous Blood Flow From The Leg Muscle- Kaatsu Walk Training (Abe et al).
This study investigated the effects of daily physical activity combined with Kaatsu (BFR)
The results suggest that the combination of leg muscle blood flow restriction with slow walking training induces muscle hypertrophy and strength gain, despite the minimal level of exercise intensity.
Kaatsu-walk training may be a potentially useful method for promoting muscle hypertrophy, covering a wide range of the population including the frail and the elderly
The Effects of Elastic Band Training BFR on Muscle Size and Vascular Function in Older Women
This study by Yasuda et at concluded-
Guide on How To Use BFR
Below is a video of myself training biceps using BFR. Even using light weights this felt tough!
Jamie Miller- Personal Trainer
UK Fitness Personal Training
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