Occlusion training has been getting the attention of people from all around the world, especially those who are into strength training with weights. The idea behind occlusion or blood flow restriction training is that one can grow strong and huge muscles without having to lift heavy loads. This training also involves the use of restriction bands, which are used to wrap around the muscle areas that are being trained. The purpose of wrapping the muscles is to restrict the flow of blood from those muscles. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? That’s why in this post, we are going to share with you some information from Dr. Jeremy Loenneke.
Dr. Jeremy Loenneke is a graduate of PhD in Exercise Physiology at the University of Oklahoma. He earned his Master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science from Southeast Missouri State University. His research is focused on skeletal muscles adaptations to exercise and strength weight training combined with blood flow restriction.
Blood Flow Restriction – Its Purpose
According to Dr. Loenneke, the purpose of blood flow restriction training or BFR is to let blood penetrate the muscle, and to reduce the amount of it that leaves the muscles. This process is also known as occlusion. He emphasized that cutting off the arterial inflow is not the objective of BFR.
Through occlusion, beneficial adaptations occur in the muscles even at low exercise intensities and lighter loads. Loenneke explains that using BFR when training with weights is beneficial for those who are nursing injuries, or those who don’t have the ability to lift heavy loads.
Levels of Effectiveness for BFR
According to Dr. Loenneke, the effectiveness of blood flow restriction can be divided into three levels or categories:
1 – Application of BFR in the absence of exercise. Without exercise, it seems unlikely for muscle hypertrophy to occur. But apparently, BFR can still maintain muscle strength and mass even without exercise.
2 – Application of BFR with slow cycling or walking exercises. This combination has proven to result in muscle growth. It is important to remember that sprinting under BFR is not recommended. The idea is to train your muscles at low intensities, so there is no need to run or sprint while doing occlusion.
3 – Application of BFR with low load training with weight. Blood flow restriction training is proven to be most effective when done in combination with low load resistance training. Occlusion will yield good results as long as the strength training with weights does not involve heavy loads.
Dr. Loenneke reminds everyone that for BFR to enhance the effects of low load strength weight training, the occlusion training bands should not cut of blood flow totally. Also, it should be performed with low intensity exercise routines like walking and cycling.