If you are wondering how you can catapult the results of your workouts, you might be surprised to learn that doing this muscle group following a hard leg workout just might be your ticket to success.
When a blood flow restriction training leg workout is performed properly, you will likely experience fatigue and “burning.” You might not feel that it is much of a “reward” to feel the discomfort (although, crazy people like me do).
Jokes aside, training such a large muscle group such as your legs using occlusion training has far-reaching benefits for the rest of your body. Testosterone and growth hormone are increased in prodigious amounts, resulting in a flood of muscle-building chemicals swimming around in your bloodstream.
The Norway Experiment
Researchers in Norway at the Lillehammer University College performed an experiment to put those extra hormones to good use. The scientist found out that if you train another body part after training your legs, the smaller body part will increase in size and strength faster than if you had trained the smaller muscle group alone.
Nine males between the ages of 20 and 34 were selected as volunteers for the experiment. The men performed a bodybuilding routine for 11 weeks. Twice a week, they trained the left bicep alone with hammer curls, curls and reverse curls. On two other days, they trained their legs with leg extensions, leg presses and leg curls. After this training session, they worked on the right bicep, using the same training techniques as those for the left bicep.
After the 11-week training period, the right bicep (the one trained after leg workouts) was significantly larger and more powerful than the left bicep for all the experiment volunteers. The scientists came to the conclusion that the higher levels of growth hormone and testosterone present in the body following the rigorous leg workouts contributed to the increased growth in the arm trained on the same day.
How to Take Advantage of Increased Hormone Levels
Because leg training with BFR training bands is very taxing on your body, it causes you to produce greater amounts of growth hormone and testosterone to compensate for the additional energy you are spending. Take advantage of this hormone surge by training biceps (or any other smaller muscle group) that same day or the very next day.
To benefit even more, consider splitting your leg workouts into two separate sessions. Focus on the quadriceps one day and hamstrings on another day. Then pick an arm muscle group to train on each leg workout day. For example, you could do triceps training on hamstring day and biceps on quadriceps day. Although the Norwegian scientists did not follow this particular schedule, it will likely have the same effect as that observed in their experiment.
Now, at this point, I know you’re likely pretty trigger-happy about starting additional occlusion training workouts along with your leg training, but there’s one caveat. Training another large muscle group along with leg workouts (think your chest or your back) may not work as well as training a smaller body part. If you attempt to work too many large muscle groups on the same day without sufficient rest time in between, you might find yourself suffering from overtraining or lacking sufficient energy to adequately train the large muscle groups.
What is Overtraining?
Overtraining occurs when your push your body too hard for too long without giving yourself enough time to recover in between workouts. If you are logging five hours a week of intense gym workouts, you are probably not at risk. However, if you are working out 6-7 days per week (especially those of you doing two-a-days), you may be at a point of diminishing returns. You’re not only overtaxing your body, but you’re also overtaxing your nervous system which kills your strength.
That said, here are several telltale signs that you have been working out too hard.
#1 Extreme Muscle Soreness
It is perfectly normal to have sore muscles for a couple days following a hard workout. However, if you are still sore after three days, be sure to schedule a day off for rest. Extended muscle soreness is a sign that your muscles are not recovering well. Exercising in this state will have a negative impact on your muscle-building efforts. A gym session should last from 45 to 75 minutes with no problem. If your workouts are 2 hours plus, you’re doing it wrong.
Although exercise is good for your mental health, overtraining can have the opposite effect. Those who overtrain have a tendency to become addicted to training. Some may also suffer from body image issues and overtrain in an attempt to “look better.” Remember, there will always be someone “bigger” than you in the gym. Don’t overdo it in an attempt to be the biggest. Grow at your own pace. To avoid overtraining, it is important to be aware of the real motives behind working out. Set realistic goals and stick to your plan. Your gains will thank you.
Overtraining can result in a weakened immune system. If your body is in a constant catabolic state from too much exercise, you run the risk of lowering your immune system and becoming ill. If you find yourself running fevers or catching colds more frequently, you probably need to get some additional rest and reduce your training intensity and frequency. You might also need to increase your supplement intake with vitamin A, vitamin E and glutamine. As for your diet, the average sedentary person needs at least 60 grams of carbs per day, so if you’re working out regularly you’re likely going to need much more than even that.
#4 Increased Injuries
If you are getting injured more often during your workouts or if you are aggravating old injuries, you might be working too hard. When you overtrain, your body does not have the opportunity to recuperate between workouts. At this point, you are “training in a weakened state.” If you continue “pushing through” in this state, you run the risk of increased injury. To prevent overtraining, consider rest periods during your routine. Reducing the intensity of your workouts and participation in active recuperation activities such as cryotherapy, hot sauna, and blood flow restriction training can help reduce unnecessary strain on your body and muscles.
Whether you’re doing traditional weight lifting or working out with light weight with Occlusion Training Bands for training legs, you a great opportunities to carry over the effects of your leg workout by training a smaller muscle group immediately after. Of course, just be sure not to over-do it. Working “smart” by training smaller muscle groups following a leg workout is a great way to keep yourself fit without overtaxing your body, while maximizing your gains.
To your gains,
Kusha Karvandi, PES, CES, CSCS