Blood Flow Restriction training is an intensity technique that allows you to lift as little as 20-30% of your 1 rep max, while still gaining the benefits you would receive from heavy weight training. This is achieved by using our easy to use quick release tourniquets at the top of the arms to allow arterial blood flow into the muscle being worked, while restricting blood flow return from the veins. This simply means that you are allowing blood into the limb but restricting it from escaping back to the heart. I’m not going to lie, it hurts like an absolute bitch BUT By doing this you allow blood to pool inside the muscle, creating cellular swelling which will give you an insane pump.
By restricting blow flow you are also restricting oxygen to the muscle which allows your fast twitch muscle fibers to take over. Since your slow twitch muscle fibers are oxygen dependent or aerobic and your fast twitch fibers are not, blood flow restriction training pre-fatigues your slow twitch fibers allowing your anaerobic fast twitch fibers to dominate the movement. This is beneficial because your fast twitch muscle fibers are responsible for greater power output and offer the greatest potential for muscular growth. Finally, due to the oxygen limited state of your restricted muscle the metabolic stress placed on the muscle will promote an accumulation of lactic acid which stimulates an anabolic environment to activate protein synthesis and muscle hypotrophy.
When doing blood flow restriction you want to make sure you don’t occlude the arteries and you wrap just tight enough to restrict the veins. Wrapping too tight would completely block blood flow to the muscle and would defeat the purpose of proper blood flow restriction training. To correctly restrict the veins and not the arteries you’ll want to make sure the tourniquets are not too tight.
Start by facing the quick release button up and insert the band into the buckle. Insert your arm into the loop, button facing up, with the strap to tighten the buckle pointed away from you.
You or your workout partner can easily pull the band to tighten the tourniquet. DO NOT pull from the white clip on the end of the band, pull from the point on the band closest to the buckle to securely tighten the tourniquet. If you feel pain, numbness, or have any tingling sensations shooting in your arm before you even start, you’ve probably put the tourniquets on too tight. You can always check your pulse at your wrist or ankle to make sure you haven’t cut off arterial flow. I recommend wrapping our tourniquets at the very top of your arm, at a 9 out of 10 tightness level since they are thin and designed specifically for your arms. Our tourniquets are meant to be used on the arms only and NOT the legs. For doing blood flow restriction training on your legs you’ll want to use knee wraps which are wider and better suited for your thighs. The knee wraps should be tightened to only a 7 out of 10 tightness level and wrapped around the very top of the leg for restricting the quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Remember you should be using a light weight, 20%-30% of your one rep max is all you’ll need. Going over 50% of your 1 rep max seems to offer no added benefits, so please check your ego at the door. The most studied and popular rep scheme for blood flow restriction is starting your first set with 30 reps, followed by 3 sets of 15-20 reps with only :30-:45 seconds of rest between each set. So that’s 4 total sets, one set of 30 reps and 3 sets of 15-20 reps. You want to really focus on squeezing the muscle being worked and forcing the blood to pool inside the muscle. You will keep the tourniquets on the entire time and release them only after you’ve completed all 4 sets. If you can’t get at least 15 reps you’ll need to lower the weight, or adjust the tightness of the wraps. I recommend doing 1-3 cycles of this, taking the tourniquets off after completing each cycle. You can use our tourniquets to target your biceps and triceps and use knee wraps to target your quads, hamstrings, and calves. I recommend doing isolation exercises rather than large compound movements when doing blood flow restriction. My personal favorite exercise to do are preacher curls, pushdowns, leg extensions, seated hamstring curls, and standing calve raises but feel free to do whatever exercises you enjoy using this protocol.
When Should I Perform Blood Flow Restriction?
Remember everyone, THIS IS NOT MAGIC or a shortcut! It is simply a tool, another intensity technique to add to your tool box.
You can do blood flow restriction training whenever you want in your routine. I recommend doing it as a replacement for heavy weight training when you are deloading or simply want to give your joints a break. It’s also a great tool to use at the end of your normal workout routine to add some variety and fun to your program.
For more information on blood flow restriction training and our quick release tourniquets WATCH the full instruction video on Youtube! You can order our straps at the bottom of this article! Make sure to follow myself @MikeSmithFitness and @NeverQuitPerformance on Instagram and social media.
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