Blood flow restriction training (BFR) is a cutting-edge, effective training technique that works by restricting blood flow to the veins, but not the arteries. When you restrict blood to the veins but leave the arteries open, you deliver blood to the target muscle without letting it leave.
This restriction causes an increase in cell swelling. When your cells swell, they sense danger and eventually restructure themselves and get larger. That means bigger muscles for you!
BFR training also causes lactic acid to become trapped in the muscle. Lactic acid is actually anabolic, or muscle-building, and can turn on protein synthesis, so this is another novel way that BFR stimulates growth.
To read even more about how BFR builds muscle, check out my "Ask the Muscle Prof" article on the subject!
Project Mass Trainer Blood Flow Restriction
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Many people call BFR occlusion training, but that's technically incorrect. Occluding your muscles means that you would restrict the blood flow to your veins and arteries entirely. Studies have shown that when you occlude the blood flow to your arteries, it actually decreases growth at that site. We never want to restrict the blood flow to the working muscle!
You'll encounter BFR training on select lifting days throughout Project Mass. On those specific daily pages, you'll see which exercises call for the technique. The information below will help you employ BFR during those or any training sessions.
Put BFR Into Practice
BFR works best on your arms and legs, which are the muscle groups that call for it in Project Mass. To perform BFR training, wrap the top portion of your target muscle—the top of your biceps or upper thigh—with a regular knee wrap. The tightness level should be a 7 out of 10. You don't want to feel any numbness or tingling. If you do, you've wrapped too tightly.
Secure the end of the wrap by looping it under the top layer and pulling tight. After you've wrapped your limb, let it hang free to test how it feels. If you feel numb or tingly, then loosen the wrap a little.
Next, because BFR works best with relatively light weight, select 40-50 percent of what you'd usually lift for a standard set of moderate reps, or even as low as 20 percent of your one-rep max. Lift 15-30 reps per set, and focus on squeezing the hell out of whatever muscle you're using.
Between sets, rest about 30 seconds. These short rest periods will continue to drive blood into the muscle, increase the lactic acid buildup, and increase your pump. This trio of effects will deliver substantial growth!