Does Occlusion Training Work?
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Blood flow restriction training also known as does occlusion training was pioneered by sports scientist Professor Jacob Wilson (Phd). He heads up the department of Skeletal Muscle Physiology at Florida State University and spent years researching blood-flow restriction training, called occlusion training or BFR (blood-flow restriction) training.
It may sound crazy that restricting the blood-flow to a working muscle might actually cause it to grow faster. But we are going to briefly discuss the now well-proven positive side-effects from BFR or occlusion training. BFR simply uses pressure cuffs and/or knee wraps to restrict blood-flow slightly, never completely. You need to wrap this cuff or wrap at the top near a joint so that veins are blocked and not arteries.
Sport science can now prove that when BFR is done correctly, your muscle cells reach that point where they're so packed full of fluid/blood that they forced to ei-ther burst or to grow. BFR also works because your oxygen levels in the muscle fiber goes too low as the rushing in of blood forces the recruitment of predominantly larger fast-twitch muscle fibers, giving extreme growth as a result.
When oxygen is too low, the muscle cell rapidly accumulates lactic acid. This may sound like a bad thing, but recent studies show that lactic acid can actually increase protein synthesis. Dr. Jacob Wilson has done extensive research on BFR that shows a shorter rest period of only 30 seconds will optimize swelling and release the most lactic acid directly into the muscle.
It has also been demonstrated that BFR does not require a lot of weight to reach the point of failure or fatigue, often body-weight training is more than enough weight. A sports scientist called Dr. Thiebaud recently conducted an extensive study on the best type of contraction for BFR. He compared concentric (lifting portion) to ec-centric (lowering) when lifting a lift. Studies clearly show that in traditional heavy lifting, the eccentric portion will cause most of the muscle growth, but he found that the opposite happened with BFR.
When using cuffs or wraps the concentric part during the lift is the most important. Suggesting that for BFR to work effectively it needs you to pump reps out, aiming to completely flood the muscle full of fluid and lactic acid. One study done on BFR training produced usable results using knee wraps for legs, and wrist wraps training the arms.
The study asked volunteers to wrap their cuffs/wraps to a pressure perceived by the lifter at around 7 out of 10 when training the legs, and 5-6 when training the arms, would always reliably occlude the veins and not block the arteries. When trying BFR you should never wrap tighter than that.
The problem, as you might expect, is that many lifters don't know how tightly to wrap, to restrict the veins and not arteries. This is not good. But one study ad-dressed the problem directly, and found a simple approach to make sure you're on the right track.
This specific study showed there's no benefit gained from lifting a heavy weight. The published study suggests a weight selection of only 20% to 40% of your 1RM. The weight gets real heavy very quickly when doing 4 sets of 30, 15, 15, and last set also on 15 reps twice or even 3 times a week.
In conclusion, the countless studies done to prove the effectiveness on BFR show that it's essential that your wrap is wrapped around only a small narrow area. Wrapping on a wider area will only put more area at risk from occlusion of your arteries. This won't build muscle it'll destroy muscle because there's no oxygen.
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