SAGA FITNESS | Erin Kearney
BFR Could Be the Answer for You, Heres Why!
What is blood flow restriction and what are the benefits?
You may have heard of Blood Flow Restriction training (BFR), or Occlusion training, but aren’t quite sure what it involves and why people do it. We’ve done our best below to give you the low down on BFR, and how it can be used in your training.
The world’s first wireless, upper and lower limb blood flow restriction (BFR) training cuffs that intelligently calibrate to your optimal occlusion zone.
Where did BFR start?
Blood flow restriction was developed by Dr Yoshiaki Sako. After kneeling for hours whilst praying, Dr Sako found that he had achieved a muscular pump in his calf muscles comparable to performing multiple sets of calf raises.
Thereafter, DR Sako devoted years conducting research into the optimal position for applying pressure with the aim of decreasing blood flow to the working muscle. Since then, BFR has been adopted by sports professionals, military personnel, and bodybuilders alike. More recently, research has shown the effectiveness of BFR in rehabilitation, load management or to help people accelerate their muscle growth and strength.
How does it work?
BFR training involves applying a tourniquet to the top portion of your limb to reduce blood flow. This reduction occurs in the veins, not the arteries, which means that blood pools in the working muscle and makes it think it's working harder than it is. The oxygen availability to the working muscle is also restricted, which helps to activate the body’s type II muscle fibres, which typically only occurs from high-intensity exercise.
The result is a high production of muscle protein synthesis, which is one of the key ingredients for building muscles! Training with BFR offers an alternative method to build muscle than traditional high-intensity resistance training.
By restricting the blood flow to the limb, you are causing the muscle to fatigue faster, without requiring heavy loads. Typically with low-load resistance training, it is challenging or takes a long time to build muscle – this is no longer the case with BFR.
What are the benefits?
Other than helping your body produce a high amount of muscle protein synthesis, without the high-intensity loads, the benefits of BFR are wide-reaching. We’ve included a quick snapshot below:
1. Accelerate muscle growth and strength by accelerating the activation of type II muscle fibres.
2. Decrease load on bones, joints and tendons – if you’re someone who finds it painful or difficult to lift heavy, then BFR is a perfect alternative for you – as you will still get the same strength stimulus without putting a mechanical load on your body.
3. Less pain when performing the movement in full range – research shows that BFR has an analgesic effect on our body – for example, if you normally get sore knees during squats, adding BFR can delay the onset of pain you typically experience, allowing you to work out for longer.
4. Improve aerobic capacity – because BFR reduces your muscle’s ability to use oxygen, it forces the body to become more effective with the supply- this has a carry-on effect that can increase your V02 capacity.
5. Decreased muscle soreness – research on BFR shows that measure of muscle damage such as creatine kinase, lipid peroxides and delayed onset muscle soreness are minimally elevated. This can be useful for individuals or athletes who are looking to decrease the time between training or games.
6. Quicker workouts – as BFR causes the muscle to fatigue quicker than traditional training AND help you achieve high levels of muscle activation, you can also expect to get more work done in less time.
Why The BFR Cuffs by SAGA Fitness?
In healthy individuals, muscle tissue is lost and rebuilt every day. If circumstances stay the same, the body manages homeostasis with neither a net loss nor gain. When injured and inactive, however, muscle tissue degrades at a faster rate and muscle building slows. The decline in muscle tissue contributes to a loss of function and further injuries when not well managed. Scientific research has validated standard creatine supplementation as an effective method to reduce muscle atrophy when used before, during and after rehabilitation. Since MYOCYTIN™ has been shown to be superior to standard creatine, it is a crucial nutritional aid during recovery from musculoskeletal injuries.
If you have tried BFR training in your routine before, you’ll know how difficult it is to gauge when you at the optimal occlusion zone. There are also risks involved if using a rope or band and are guessing the applied pressure.
The BFR Cuffs by SAGA remove this guesswork. The cuffs calibrate your personalized pressure zone, then automatically inflate to an occlusion zone that is optimised for your training. This means there are no manual pumps, no guessing – just a seamless, automated experience.
The BFR Cuffs are also completely wireless and controlled via Bluetooth from your phone. Meaning you can take your work out anywhere.
How to incorporate it into your training?
BFR can fit seamlessly into your training regime. Whether you’re short on time and wear them for the entire routine or are in for a long session, they can be used as an extra burner right at the end to amplify your results. Here is a sample shoulder circuit to try with The BFR Cuffs:
1. Banded Face Pulls (3 sets: 30-15-15-15)
2. Isometric External Rotations (5 sets: 10s each angle)
3. Banded Shoulder IYT (3 sets: 15 I’s, 15 Y’s, 15 T’s)
4. Dumbbell Shoulder Flexion (3 sets: 30-15-15-15)
5. Banded 90/90 External Rotation (3 sets: 30-15-15-15)