BLOOD FLOW RESTRICTION TRAINING
Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFRT), is a training method that involves use of a pneumonic cuff (like the ones a doctor uses to take blood pressure) to alter the blood flow into your limbs while you perform certain exercises. This style of training was actually discovered in the 70’s by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, who had a full leg cast on after breaking his leg. For the six weeks that he had the cast on, he practiced blood flow restriction training on his leg above the cast, two to three times a day, and when the cast came off, he had maintained much of his muscle mass.
By restricting blood flow on the limb using a cuff, we can reduce the amount of blood flowing out of the limb, but still allow blood to flow in. When we combine this with very light exercise/loading – such as lifting a light weight or even pedaling a bike, metabolites (what your muscles produce when they work) build up in the limb. This is beneficial, as BFRT “tricks” your body into believing it is working harder than it actually is due to the presence of the metabolites.
BFRT achieves these benefits by:
- Increased release of growth hormones and lactate, which drives muscle growth
- Increased Type II (a.k.a fast-twitch) muscle fiber activation, which means increased muscle growth.
- Increased vascularisation of the tissue (i.e. more blood vessels) meaning your muscles are able to receive more oxygen. This improves cardiorespiratory performance and also means you recover from exercise quicker
- Increase heart rate which means there is a cardiovascular “cardio” training effect as well as the strength training effect